I have had cursive writing as an academic goal for Vincent the last four years running. Four years! We first came to Waldorf when Vincent was in grade 3 which is normally when cursive is taught. I purchased the special fountain pens and extra refills for the lovely copywork I pictured us doing in our main lesson books. This did not happen in third grade. Fourth grade? No. Fifth Grade? No. Sixth grade? Hallelujah, YES!!
Over the years, I have tried many different approaches: workbooks, free printables, using my handwriting as a guide – nothing worked. Vincent has always struggled with coordination and flow in his physical movement, and I came to realize this correlated with issues related to handwriting. Knowing something cognitively, however, did not necessarily translate to how I was teaching. And if I am being honest here, I didn’t want to address it from a wholistic perspective. I just wanted him to write in script – damnit! – how hard was this??!!
A couple of things happened this year that helped me to change my thinking and I was (finally!) able to take a wholistic, long view. We started with form drawing in September (like we always do) but this year I was committed to it in a different way. We followed the forms in The Write Approach Book 1 – step by step, form by form, week by week. It was not easy. The flowing nature of the forms and the progression of the movements was all very hard for Vincent. I thought we were going to come to blows one day when I introduced this “wave” form. We struggled through a few lines over a couple of days and then put it away to rest.
In October, I attended a eurythmy workshop with Cynthia Hoven and also scheduled Vincent for 2 private curative eurythmy sessions. I have shared my personal love of eurythmy before in this space, but watching Vincent struggle profoundly with body geography, fluidity and space was about more than I could bear. I swear 90% of his energy and awareness is in his head – I have always known this – but I never made the connection that that doesn’t leave a whole lot left over for the rest of his body. Ms. Hoven gave us several practice sequences to address specific concerns. Four days a week we worked with copper rods, rice trays, jumping movements and walking exercises. In addition to this gross motor movement, we also kept practicing our written forms with The Write Approach.
By February, Vincent was much more at ease with the flow of the pen across the page and I thought we could just jump right into the letters. I had the expectation that he would be able to write a sentence in script. When I asked him to do this, he gave me a blank stare. He had absolutely no idea how to go from something typewritten to writing it on his own in cursive. So we backed up and started with book two of The Write Approach series. Here the letters are laid out very logically as to how and where they are formed on the page. Using these pink handwriting books in conjunction with the suggestion of gel pens in this great blog post, proved to be a winning combination.
We are continuing our eurythmy practice and daily cursive writing practice at least through the end of this year. I am so proud of Vincent for sticking with the program. I know he feels a huge sense of accomplishment every time he goes to write something in script – even if it is endless lists of cars and NCAA basketball teams!
**One thing I want to say about The Write Approach books: they are very difficult to use as workbooks. The tight binding and the spacing of the practice lines were a deal breaker for us. So I used the books more as a teacher’s manual and had Vincent copy the forms from the chalkboard onto big manila paper (12 x 18). When he proved proficient with a form he then copied them onto good white drawing paper (again 12 x 18). We used the handwriting books only when he moved onto book 2. His writing is still rather large, but otherwise fluid, straight and nicely spaced.