Five years ago, Covenant made a curriculum change, replacing the teaching of manuscript handwriting in kindergarten with cursive handwriting. At the time, it seemed like a radical change. The national discussion had just begun questioning the value of cursive in a school’s curriculum, and now we would be asking the youngest students to master a subject that since the 1940’s had been tackled no earlier than second grade. Our research, however, showed us that this change would benefit our students, so we marched forward. Over the ensuing five years, I have seen some wonderful results.
The majority of our kindergartners have been excited to learn this method of handwriting that in their eyes, only adults use. It is not easy for them in the beginning, but they learn during the first few weeks other important lessons such as diligence, perseverance, and carefulness. When they begin to see progress they are reminded that faithful practice does indeed reap rewards. By the end of the school year, the students are not only writing cursive words but reading them as well. They also have the ability to “translate” printed words into cursive. Having these skills in their “tool boxes” in kindergarten helps to make the students’ handwriting more automatic in later grades, freeing up their working memory to concentrate on the ideas they wish to express in written assignments.
Kindergartners love their names so we use that innate love when teaching cursive. As we teach a letter, the students who have that letter in their name are then required to write it in cursive. An exciting day arrives when they begin to connect some of the letters, and even more thrilling is the day when they can write their entire first name in cursive.
Some of the words used in Covenant’s curriculum guide to describe our goals for handwriting are beautiful, legible, consistent, habits of neatness and showing respect (to the reader). Starting the process of inculcating these traits as early as kindergarten is a step towards developing not only a student who writes well but a student who has developed these worthy attributes in all areas of life.
– MaryLynne Martin, Covenant Kindergarten Teacher