We provide several alternative
styles on our worksheets in order to meet the needs of parents, teachers, and schools that
may require a certain style. Nevertheless, certain criteria should be
considered in the choice of handwriting styles when the teacher has the
prerogative. These criteria point rather strongly to a preference for certain styles over others.
Modern handwriting styles generally fall into two broad classes,
which can be generally described as follows:
- Modern Italic
- Printing: Letters are sloped. Some style shift the shape of certain
printed letters towards their cursive counterparts. Round capitals are
formed with ovals.
Cursive: Letters are sloped. Some styles retain a modified shape
capital letters for the cursive capitals.
- Ball-and-Stick (Traditional Block Printing)
- Printing: Letters are completely upright (no slope).
Lower case letters are made with separate circles (balls) and lines (sticks).
Round capitals are formed with circles.
Cursive: Letters are
sloped. Ornate loops are added in cursive, especially to capitals. Some
capitals bear little resemblance to printed counterparts.
The main argument made in favor of the basic ball-and-stick style
printing has been that the letters are most similar in style to the basic fonts
used in beginning reading materials. This similarity of form reinforces
the visual discrimination skills used in reading. While this argument
deserves a level of credence, it should not be overemphasized or
extended beyond its actual usefulness.
The realities of the ball-and-stick printing coupled with ornate
cursive is that the transition from one to the next is difficult, the
rate of reversion from cursive back to printing is high, and the
printing itself is not very neat in appearance (due to the many separate
motions). In addition, the ornateness of the cursive does not lend
itself to legibility of writing.
The italic styles, on the other hand, seek to minimize the change
between printing and cursive, as well as to use more natural (and thus
neater) strokes in the formation of the printed letters.
Note that one of the primary motivations for the development of cursive styles
is to be a time-saving method. This is another reason to prefer a less
ornate version of cursive.
This is especially true with respect to capital letters. In practice,
many adults either use printed or simplified capitals in the midst of
their cursive writing. The italic style provides a very attractive
option for cursive.
Additional contributions towards neatness
and legibility provided by the italic styles include details such as the
form of lower case 't'. The ball-and-stick writing systems typically use a lower
case stick-'t' that looks like a plus sign '+'. In our rendition of 't',
we have modified
the letter to include a lower curve as used in standard printed fonts. This promotes the
connection between the written and published forms, and it also
alleviates future headaches and errors in math, where 't' and '+' can
occur side-by-side in context.
Our basic recommendations on the use of different writing styles can
be summarized as follows:
- Start with an introduction to basic ball-and-stick block printing style while the child is still
learning letter discrimination and recognition but before they are
ready to learn rapid writing. This may be only a short period of
time since the writing reinforces letter recognition. Discrimination
(such as 'b' vs. 'd') does not have to be 100% perfect before they
are ready to move on.
- When they are ready to learn rapid writing, move to an italic
script, which is more comfortable in its slant orientation and less
- Move naturally to a cursive stroke when printing separate
letters has become rapid.
The basic ball-and-stick printing style is associated with "beginning
Kindergarten" in our worksheets, while later Kindergarten to third grade is associated with italic printing,
then italic cursive.
Note that the letter sizes can be adjusted according to the student's comfort and
mastery level. While bigger is generally better for beginning students,
it is possible for letters to be TOO big for comfortable writing. In
fact, at the largest sizes, the child may in fact be "drawing" the
letters rather than "writing" them. Drawing letters (reproducing a
picture) can be useful for learning the letters themselves, but the goal
of handwriting is to move quickly to learning mechanical motions in a