I was given a great opportunity to review “Cursive First” by Elizabeth FitzGerald. The program was written to pair with Wanda Sanseri’s “Spell to Write and Read” and “The WISE Guide”. I do not have the two other products, so my review will come from using it as a stand-alone program.
My husband was born and raised in Europe – Germany to be exact. When he was younger, cursive was taught before print or manuscript. So, when I started to teach our children to print first, just out of habit, he wondered why I was doing that. Then, I started to hear that it was better to teach cursive first anyway.
As I began to search for just the right program, I found that most cursive penmanship curriculum was directed toward much older children. I really felt like I needed a program aimed more specifically to my young ones in order to achieve the best outcome.
In searching the internet far and wide, I finally came across Cursive First!! I was thrilled and so was my husband!
My Favorite Part
Overall, I have really enjoyed using this program and will continue to as my new ones begin learning how to write.
The very first thing I wanted to mention about this program is that it is very very cost effective. You can reproduce the practice sheets for every one of your five, ten or fifteen children!! The program is very reasonably priced to begin with, but when you factor in that you can reproduce the necessary pages, you’ve really got a winner with this one!
What You Get
When you get your package, you will receive the Teacher’s Manual, the Practice Sheets, and the Card Set. It is a complete set with nothing more to worry about.
The Teacher’s Manual breaks everything down for you so well, I read through it once or twice and really felt like I had a handle on the system. I typically need a scripted program to feel like I’m doing a good job of teaching my kids. But, this system makes so much sense and is explained so well in the manual, I didn’t need it after the first or second lesson. You can certainly adapt this program for use with the youngest child just beginning to learn to write and with the older child that is struggling with what he or she has learned.
The Practice Sheets are the reproducible pieces of this program that your children will write on to practice what they have learned. Each letter, number or stroke is on a half sheet of paper and each reprints the directions so it doesn’t matter how long you’ve gone between the original instruction and the practice time. There are tracing guides and blanks spaces for them to move out on their own.
One thing I wish was a bit different is the amount of tracing guides – it would be nice if there were more. I think a younger child needs more time to train their muscles to perform these new tasks. It is very easy to write in your own tracers with pencil, though, so it isn’t a huge issue.
The Card Set includes tools to help you teach the student how to form the letters and pictures of the letters or numerals themselves. I happen to have a laminator at home and laminated these cards immediately. The added benefit to laminating is that we can use washable or dry-erase markers on them and wipe it off. On the back of your cards are very detailed instructions regarding what to say to teach the child the motions. (Notice that the lower case and upper case will be taught separately.) I love that the instructions on the back help you to consistently use the same terms and phrases for the same strokes they use. This helps the children to be more clear about what they are writing.
How My Children Reacted
We started the program toward the end of last year and, unfortunately, hit some bumpy spots in our personal lives so our daily schedule was thrown totally out of whack. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten as far on the program as I would have liked by now. But, no matter when I pull those cards and practice sheets out, my children are always eager to start working on them.
We, with the help of tips in the Teacher’s Manual, have a fun time learning the letters together! First, we write in the air and they just love the physical aspect of this! (Talk about handwriting without tears!!) I let them stand up on the table – I know, call me crazy! After they have practiced a few times using their whole arm in the air, they are ready to sit down and use the practice sheets.
The children I have used the program with were 4 and 3 when we started and are now 5 and 4. They are a girl and a boy, respectively – both of them love it and are doing great. I have an older boy who has great cursive writing and two more coming up the ranks. Can’t wait to use this program with them!
Purchase and Cost Information
The website for Cursive First will give you a MUCH more in-depth discussion as to why cursive is better taught before printing and how it is done. Their website is very informative and easy to use. They also have a sample that you can download and look at before buying. Their web address is LITHBTH Educational Services.
You can get the whole program for $20! Like I mentioned earlier, this is certainly a bargain even before you factor in that you’ll never have to buy more of the consumables! When I looked at the order form, the shipping came up at $5.50 without asking for my zip code, so it must be a flat rate.
I hope this review helps you in your quest to teach your children Cursive First! Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!