Are Cursive Handwriting and Phonics Magic?
Cursive may not really be magic but something almost magical happened when I introduced cursive handwriting to my students. The magic occurred as I combined cursive handwriting and phonics. A whole new world seemed to open up for my students.
Let me backtrack a little and share my experience. I hope this will inspire you to embrace both cursive handwriting and phonics in your classroom or home.
This was a new school year and I had a new group of students. I was excited. I loved teaching and I loved seeing children learn.
There is magic when a child makes a discovery. That new knowledge can never be taken away from that student.
Teaching allowed me to participate in the educational growth process of young people. I counted it as a privilege. I counted myself blessed.
Change is good
I made a change in my career and was given the opportunity to work in a small school. There were new freedoms and challenges in this new school. I had an opportunity to mold the learning process into something special and I was ready!
Time, however, was still a factor. There was never enough of it. Significant challenges remained..
Many of my students did not like school. They had experienced environments where drills, worksheets, and workbooks took up much of their time. It seemed that the love of learning had been sucked out of their daily experience.
I understood my challenge. These students needed to regain their love of learning.
Learning Should Be Fun
Sadly, there was very little in the way of fun when it came to school for these students.
I am convinced that learning should be fun and exciting. This is the best way to take in new information. If you enjoy doing something, you are going to take every opportunity to do it. When something excites your mind you are going to pay attention to it.
This is one of the keys found in the Charlotte Mason approach to education.
I wholeheartedly embraced Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning. The core of her approach centers around nurturing the gifts and callings the Lord has placed in each child.
Children are naturally curious and want to learn.
But reading a book was like pulling teeth. Wonder and imagination had not been encouraged in literature.
Multiplication practice was not fun. They were not encouraged to seek out interesting patterns in math. This turned learning math into pure torture.
My dream is for my students to have fun while their learning. Deep learning happens when children are engaged and enjoying the learning experience.
Can Cursive Handwriting and Phonics Be Fun?
In an effort to bring the fun back into school for these students, I tapped into what they found interesting. It is important to see what excites a child. This clues us into their destiny. We can nurture the calling and destiny that the Lord has placed into these children. This is an important foundational step in education.
I asked my students what their interests were. Some were interested in history, others wanted to learn more about inventors while others wanted to know about how to make illustrations.
I tried to include material that reflected their interest. I also listened to their general conversation in order to gain a better sense of who these young people were.
What were they destined to become and what had the Lord placed in their hearts to do and to be?
When you watch children play, we get an idea of what interests them. That is what is going to engage them. The challenge for adults is not finding out what they think is fun but rather what do they want to learn about. What do they want to learn how to do? I believe this is what makes part of their play life.
There are other things that draw children to play. I am convinced that learning new things is an important part of playing.
Can You Combine Cursive Handwriting and Phonics?
Thankfully, my questions helped make the school day more fun for the students. The spark was there but it was flickering and could easily be snuffed out.
Any little resistance or challenge in learning something could squelch the desire to learn. How could I give my students something that would help them persevere when challenges arise? The challenge is where growth happens. You push against something that resists you. If you don’t have that resistance your muscles cannot be exercised and developed.
Several weeks went by before I could find the time to slip in some cursive handwriting instruction. I knew I wanted to teach cursive but there were so many other things that needed to be addressed. My students needed to be hungry.
This is key to teaching anything.
Keep them wanting more!
Cursive handwriting is a skill that students need to have in order to read important documents like the Constitution as well as grandma’s recipe for sweet potato pie.
This is a skill that they need to sign their name on documents like checks and drivers license.
Sadly, cursive handwriting instruction has just about disappeared from many of the elementary classrooms. With the rise of computers, there seems to be the thought that teaching cursive handwriting is not really necessary.
In fact, there are several reasons that children should be taught cursive handwriting. One of those reasons is that cursive handwriting is a personal art form. There are teachers in classrooms that are taking the time to teach cursive. Many thanks to you that are making this effort.
It does not require a lot of time but it does require consistency. More importantly, it opens up a whole new world for our children.
Is There a Connection Between Cursive and Phonics?
Interestingly, some of the students that did not like school found it unpleasant because they had challenges with phonics and phonemic awareness. Phonics is all about understanding the symbols we called letters and the sounds we make when we see those letters.
If a student cannot make the correct sounds when they see a letter or a combination of letters, they will find it difficult to read and spell. Reading is key to understanding everything else you do in school. You may be good at math but if you can’t read, understand and apply the math you have learned, the student will struggle.
For some reason, some students find phonics difficult to master. Each student has different skills and learning styles.
Whole Word Reading
Students may find it easier to remember a word by looking at the word and memorizing it. This is more in line with the whole word reading philosophy. Whole word reading has been taught in school but it is limited in its ability to give students strong reading skills. Whole word reading does not help a child apply skills and strategies to read unfamiliar words.
Reading phonetically is a skill that once mastered can be generalized to other words. It is a powerful tool that allows a student to decode new and unfamiliar words. It is like giving a child an important tool for his reading toolbox.
I liken the Whole Word reading approach in comparison to Phonics to the idea of giving a man a fish as opposed to teaching him how to fish. This may be a stretch, but I do believe the child that relies more heavily on phonics is better equipped to read more material.
Here is Where the Magic Begins!
As I introduced cursive handwriting, I was pleased to see my students get excited about practicing writing their name.
Birds began to sing and I believe I heard a violin or two. My students actually asked to work on another cursive handwriting sheet. That was AWESOME!
It occurred to me that I could combine their spelling list with cursive handwriting. This encouraged them to give some extra time to their spelling list which resulted in better spelling grades and improved handwriting. The end of the process gave the students a special sense of accomplishment.
I took that experience and created cursive -phonics cards that could be used to practice cursive handwriting as students learned the letters and sounds of their spelling words.
Interestingly, it does not take a long time to teach cursive handwriting. It is a matter of demonstrating a few of the strokes and allow the students to practice the strokes and the letters.
Cursive Handwriting is Personal.
Cursive handwriting is unique and personal. One of the beautiful things about cursive handwriting is that each student will develop their own unique style of handwriting which is a personal form of expression. Writing in cursive is also unique to the individual and is an important individual identifier.
This is another way that individuals are different. Our differences make us special.
Admittedly, adding cursive handwriting into your school day may not make your student love school but it can be a step in the right direction. My students responded well to learning cursive handwriting and I hope you find this to be true for your situation.
Blash Cursive-Phonics Cards
The cursive phonics cards can be laminated and used with dry-erase markers for extra practice as well as left as is and used with a pencil. Students
Every teacher has that student that seems to hate school. My student was a fifth-grader that was a good reader but a terrible speller. He also had terrible handwriting and seemed to think that school was solely for hanging around with his friends and talking video games.
In the busyness of the typical school day, there seemed to be little time for teaching cursive. There was no specific time allotted for teaching cursive. I was determined to fit it in somehow.
I created handwriting sheets with the students’ names written in cursive. The students were excited about learning how to write their names in cursive and even though there were several errors, they were proud of their efforts.
My most reluctant student was so excited about his writing that he took a picture of his work and sent it to his mother in a text.
Phonics and Phonemes
When a child understands that a symbol has a sound meaning, they are able to make a sound when they see that particular sound. Letter combinations also have certain sounds and some combinations hold more than one sound. The challenge is learning what letter or letter combination holds which sounds.
The smallest unit of sound is called a phoneme. The more practice children have with connecting phonemes, or symbols, with sound, the easier it is for the student to make that sound in combination with other sounds that form words.
Working with and playing with sounds and symbols brings smoothness and fluency in reading.
We can add practicing cursive writing with practicing the sounds of letter and sounds
Blash Cursive-Phonics Cards Freebie
The Blash Cursive-Phonics Cards can connect cursive handwriting with letters and sounds. Students can practice looking at a sound while making the sound. Then they can practice making the symbol as they make the strokes of each letter in cursive. They can then progress to connecting consonants with vowels. These are blends that students begin learning when they progress through the process.
These are two skills that children see adults doing that they cannot do without help. Children spend a lot of time watching adults. They want to see if they can do what the big people are doing. This is how our children learn how to walk and talk. They are willing to endure the falls and stumbles because they are reaching for a new level of independence and mobility.
Practice Makes Perfect
The same is true for language. Small children copy making sounds. They put together sounds and then words that allows them to communicate. The more listen and practice the better they become at communicating with parents and other adults.
You can create cursive writing sheets for your student to practice writing his or her name.
This site also allows you to create sheets with paragraphs for your student to practice. You may want to create a worksheet with scripture or famous quotes that you would like your child to memorize.
If you are looking for something that you can use to start your child learning how to write in cursive you can use the cursive phonics cards I have created. I have even included boxes under the pictures that can be used to help your child focus on each individual sound. They can also practice blending sounds together and sounding out whole words.
They will be on their way to reading which will open up a whole new world of adventure for them. Does your child know how to read and write in cursive? Does your child have reading challenges?