Some of my children have beautiful handwriting and some don’t.

“What are you going to do when you go to university? Your tutor won’t spend time trying to decipher your essays. If he can’t read them, you’ll fail.”

My eldest children went to university. “Handwritten assignments aren’t accepted, Mum. See, I didn’t need good handwriting after all!”

So I was wrong. Times have changed. Good typing skills are now more valuable than beautiful handwriting. Even I don’t handwrite much these days. I type most things. So how can I insist my children acquire a skill they don’t see me using? Mostly my children type their stories and blog posts just like I do.

But at some point they have all decided that they’d like to learn cursive writing regardless. Usually they notice a friend can do ‘running’ writing and they want to be able to do the same. Maybe cursive writing makes them feel more grown up. And then I offer to show them how…

I have taught my children the basics of ‘running’ writing in a very relaxed manner which probably accounts for the fact some of them have less than perfect handwriting! No one liked using handwriting workbooks. And no one, especially me, liked the Foundation font, used in those books.

All I do is write a few sentences on a page: the more interesting the words, the better. After showing my children how to form the letters and join them together, they then copy them out.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have children with perfect handwriting?  I imagine someone saying: “Wow! Your children write so beautifully!” I can just see the big satisfied smile on my face. I feel so proud of my children and my teaching methods… but that’s all a dream. I have let go of all that. These days I try not to fuss and nag and criticise. I have learnt not to insist on perfection. I have decided that handwriting can always be improved if they ever decide there’s a need.

But if anyone does want help, I am there with suggestions and I am always on the lookout for useful resources to strew in their pathway…

The other day I found something I’d never seen before: adhesive clear sheets with guide lines for practising handwriting.  I bought a pack plus a clipboard to stick one to. Then I waved the board in Gemma-Rose’s general direction.

“What’s that?”

“It’s something to practise cursive writing on.”

“Cursive writing? Could you show me how to do that?”

I wrote ‘Gemma’ on a line using a fine-pointed black white-board marker, showing Gemma-Rose how to form each letter and join them up. A little while later she had a whole page of ‘Gemmas’.
A day later and she wanted to know how to write ‘Rose’.

There were three adhesive sheets in the packet. When Sophie realised this, she asked if she could have one. “If I had a sheet and a clipboard and a marker like Gemma-Rose, I could improve my handwriting,” she said.

So for a few days my youngest girls have been writing away. Soon Gemma-Rose should be able to write cursively and maybe Sophie’s writing will become more presentable. And I won’t have had to nag her once about her messy writing. 

I just love self-motivated learning, don't you?

So does handwriting matter? Perhaps I will come to regret my relaxed attitude. Is beautiful handwriting a skill worth insisting on? What do you think?

In case anyone is interested, I bought the adhesive handwriting sheets in Big W for $10 

Here's an interesting link: Sandra Dodd talking about Cursive, Unschooling, Change, Musings

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  1. Yes, handwriting does matter. I even read somewhere that children who learn "running" writing are more creative and generally do better, than those who don't. I'm glad my children are enrolled in an old fashioned school, where flyent handwriting still is a skill to be learned. And yes they also use computers ;)

    1. Uglemor,

      Thank you for visiting my blog and stopping to share your opinion.

      I do appreciate that 'running' writing is a good skill to have. All my children can do it fluently and without effort, and they are all very creative too, especially in the areas of music, art and writing. Did you read that it is beautifully formed cursive writing that is important or just cursive writing? It would be interesting to find out more...

      It sounds like you are very happy with your choices for your children. That's what's important: doing what we feel is right with our own children.

      Thank you for commenting. It is good to share.

  2. I think it depends on what's important to you, Sue, don't you think? If you value cursive writing, then it does matter but, if you value something else more, then maybe it's not quite so important.

    I had a friend who had First Class degrees, including a doctorate and he wrote beautiful letters, yet his handwriting was an untidy scrawl. It didn't matter - it just reflected his mad scientist personality. My own handwriting is mediocre but I can do finely detailed portraits. Maybe, I value art more than handwriting - though, I do like and admire beautiful handwriting when I see it.

    Probably, doing what we feel is right is what's important, as you say:)

    1. Vicky,

      If I think cursive writing is important and my child can't see the value, maybe we are going to come into conflict. Maybe some people will think that conflict worth it. I am trying to take a more gentle approach. I am inclined to be relaxed about the whole thing until the child decides for herself there is a need. A skill is soon learnt if a child sees a reason and really wants to learn it. I think cursive writing can be learnt as an older child or an adult. I remember being fascinated by handwriting as a teenager. My older girls also love experimenting with the appearance of their handwriting. What happens if a child never decides there is a need to improve his handwriting? So far this describes Callum who is 20. He is still surviving very nicely with his untidy scrawl.

      I agree that beautiful handwriting isn't necessarily a sign of intelligence. I am sure there are many creative, intelligent, genius type people who scrawl beautifully!

      Someone on FB described handwriting as an art form. Some people value it and express their personalities through it. Others don't.

      Thanks for your comment, Vicky!

  3. You raise a good point. I now simply can't write. I do OK on the keyboard but writing a letter would take me ages. And my hand writing is not so good anymore. New technologies like computers and calculators are eroding old skills. Some children have difficulties with mental arithmetic and don't know their times tables.

    At work it's the same. Either a computer to read and type emails and reports; or a dictating machine and someone else types it for you.

    God bless.

    1. Victor,

      I am the same. I just don't hand write enough to maintain my skills. I don't actually enjoy handwriting much so I'm not inclined to keep up the practice! Yes, old skills are being lost. Maybe one day we will look upon handwriting as we do calligraphy. It is a beautiful skill to have but not really necessary any more. I was talking with the girls about the huge changes in technology over the years. When I was at school, I could never have imagined having my own laptop computer to write on and send emails... What technologies are yet to come? No doubt there will be things well beyond our experience and expectation.

      Now mental arithmetic and times tables... there's another can of worms! I do actually think these are necessary skills and I look for painless ways that will enable my children to gain these skills. But again, I think children need to see where they are going to use the skills in order to motivate them to learn them. Skills in isolation don't make much sense.

      I'm very glad we have computers and I can type this comment otherwise we wouldn't be having this interesting conversation!

      God bless.

  4. Sue
    My oldest son just smiled at your opening paragraph:)
    After years of being more relaxed I have come to the point that I regret not being more vigilant with our older childrens' writing, I do feel handwriting is important and I firmly believe in running writing. (full disclosure this is after some of my children do not have good skills in this area) with my middles and youngers I'm more vigilant at watching their letter formation at copywork time.

    I'm interested in knowing more about running writing and creativity??

    1. Erin,

      Yes, sometimes a parent's opinion and a child's can differ! I think Callum enjoyed telling me he didn't need handwriting skills to complete his university degree!!

      I can really understand you wanting your children to have good cursive writing skills. I guess you want to give them a good foundation of basics which will serve them a lifetime. I know this requires a lot of effort on your part and I admire that.

      I have actually considered doing the same myself. I wonder if some people would equate my 'relaxed' with 'lazy'. Maybe they think I am putting my children at a disadvantage by not taking the time to drill my children in these skills. I question myself about this too. But I think it comes down to the basic philosophy of trust: I trust my children will learn what they need to know, when they need to know it. And I am on hand to encourage and help where I can.

      Running writing and creativity? Yes, that would be very interesting if Uglemor can remember where she read about this.

      I was thinking about Ken Robinson's books on education. He tells many stories about children who failed at school. They left school with no or little skills (according to the school's definition of skills). Later they discovered they were actually very creative and they went on to be hugely successful. But could they do cursive writing? It would be interesting to know!

      It is always such a pleasure discussing homeschooling with you, Erin.

      God bless!

  5. I personally love the act of writing. We learned in grade school with fountain pens and I always loved it. I don't think it really matters...I mean, it has to be legible, sure, but it is true that most things are typed these days. I will teach my children. I do wish I had the old fashioned (1920's) way of learning in the States. I don't remember what it is called, but my grandmother's best friend, who is 95, has the most enchanted handwriting.

    1. Elisa,

      I remember fountain pens! And ink stains all down my fingers! Yes, some people have beautiful handwriting, real works of art. I guess I could also have such handwriting if I worked at it. I could also learn the piano, so my children tell me! It just a matter of wanting it enough, I guess.

      Could you find an old attractive handwriting font online maybe, and use that to teach your sons handwriting?

      Thank you for your comment!

  6. I think your daughter is doing well!

    1. Dana,

      Thank you! That compliment will please Gemma-Rose and encourage her to practise.

      God bless!

  7. Hey Sue! I went to a convention this weekend and attended a session where the lady talked about this very thing. We are looking at this from the idea of handwriting for handwriting's sake. She contends that handwriting is very important to the development of reading skills - how learning to write the letter at the same time you learn the letter sounds utilizes more parts of the brain and helps ease the information into long-term memory. Here is an article from her website She also recommends starting handwriting instruction with cursive over print. You can find articles on her website that list her reasons for that too. It was a great session: all about teaching reading to wiggly or kinesthetic learners. She had some fantastic ideas for painless games and activities.

    1. Pam,

      That sounds like an interesting session you attended! I will follow the link and find out more. I remember one of the how-to-read books we used to have, had writing exercises that went with each reading exercise. Sounds like you've come home all inspired with lots of things to think about and maybe put into action. Getting together with other homeschoolers can be really inspiring, can't it?

      God bless!


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