Planning

Beautiful Handwriting

Charlotte Mason used a book called A New Handwriting for Teachers, by M. M. Bridges. It contains a few pages of instructions, and then “ten stiff, thick pages” for the children to copy from. 

Since I am trying to remove workbooks/printouts from my life (I solemnly swear that paper breeds!), I decided to see how Ms. Mason used the program, and if I could recreate a sequence for it. I went through programmes 90 – 95 (one programme is one term or 12 weeks of schooling) on Ambleside’s archives, and copied the assigned sections. I choose these terms because they are continuous. I copied the relevant sections here. Happily, I found an easy to use sequence, assuming that some of the 8s are really 3s. (I have read a lot of old books, and many times some of the letters and numbers are unclear. Also, common sense says Charlotte would not have assigned card 8 to children still learning their letters. But I could be wrong!)

Beginners

  • Use card 4, covering basic strokes and lowercase letters according to stroke or shape.
  • Focus on either the right half or the left half each term.
  • Two terms:
  1. Left-hand half of card 4 (straight lines;letters i, t, u, r, n, m, h, p, f, l, b, v, w)
  2. Right-hand half of card 4 (curved lines; letters o, c, e, a, d, q, j, g, k, s, x, y, z)
Form IB (around 1st grade)
  • One letter to be mastered each lesson. (Teacher to study instructions.)
  • Write, or print, letters and words from dictation as well as from copy. (See Home Education, page 234 – scroll down to “Writing”).
  • Use card 3 (lowercase) and card 5 (numbers & letter combinations).
  • Three terms:
  1. Card 3, Lines 1 & 2 (letters a-n; 20 letters including variations)
  2. Card 3, Lines 3 & 4 (letters o-z; 19 letters including variations)
  3. Card 5, Lines 1 & 2 (numbers 0-9); Card 3, Line 5 (8 letter combinations or variations)
Form IA (around 2nd & 3rd grades)
  • Two letters to be mastered each lesson. (Teacher to study instructions.)
  • Transcribe (copy) from reading books. Write words and short sentences from dictation.
  • Three terms:
  1. Card 1, Lines 1 & 2 (letters A-K); Card 3, Lines 1 & 2 (letters a-n)
  2. Card 1, Lines 3 & 4 (letters L-T); Card 3, Lines 3 & 4 (letters o-z)
  3. Card 2, Lines 1 & 2 (letters U-Z); Card 3, Line 5 (letter combinations & variations)
Form II (around 4th to 6th grades)
  • Practice card 3 (lowercase).
  • Use card 6 as a model.
  • Two perfectly written lines a day, transcribed from favorite passages of Shakespeare or poetry.
Form III & IV (around 7th to 9th grades)
  • Use card 6 as a model.
  • Choose & transcribe passages from poetry, Shakespeare, and other books.
Notes from “Home Education:

  • Children started at the blackboard, then moved to a pencil and finally to a pen.
  • Children using the blackboard should rub out any letter that doesn’t meet their standards, so that only a perfect word (the objection of early lessons) is left.
  • Start with a medium size for letters, not small. Don’t make the child ‘labor’ on large writing. (CM says it is easier for the small hand to become a scrawl, and bad habits are to be avoided. Older children use small hand.)

So I will be using card 4 for Andrew,who is 6 years old and full of energy. I believe Charlotte uses the example of six perfect strokes, so that is what we will do at first. I know his frustration level will go down, because the work will be shorter and simpler than what I asked him! I will have him use the whiteboard. 

My older boys have been doing Penny Gardener’s “Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children” (again, a great program, I just don’t want more worksheets), so they should be able to transition to this slightly fancier style, especially if I print properly lined paper for them.

For my 8 year old, David, I will use cards 1 and 3. He pays good attention to detail, and I think he will like the simpler, freer method. I will also do some dictation with him – he could use the challenge.

My 10 year old, Jonathan, is a big picture guy, hard worker and easy going. I will probably have him study cards 1-3, and then have him decide what letters he needs to practice. When he feels confident, we will move to card 6 and two perfect lines a day.

I plan to use the 12 Rules of Good Handwriting as well (I can’t find the regular page, but archive.org has a copy). I’m not sure if I will turn it into a catechism (question & answer), add it to their memory work, or just print a copy (with all the blinking letters, LOL) to review often.

I’m very excited to see what Charlotte used in her schools (simple, but deep), and I hope it will be a help to someone else out there!

3 thoughts on “Beautiful Handwriting

  1. I’m fascinated that Mason only set two perfect lines in grades 4-6. I was feeling kind of guilty that my 10yo was only doing two perfect lines. Now I’m feeling much better!

  2. Oh, I found your (I assume it was your) resource on the Simply Charlotte Mason Organizer for handwriting and am using it. Now I found your post! Thanks for figuring out what was used by CM – I’m trying it out this year with my 5yo, and will use with my 7yo and 10yo too….

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