Friday, October 7, 2016

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting Review

For the past 13 years, I haven't had to fill out many forms. Oh, it's not that we haven't needed to. I mean, we bought a house, had 5 kids, purchased vehicles, and experienced other times when paperwork needed to be filled out. You see, my husband does the majority of the writing. It's not that my handwriting is poor, but that my husband's can be nearly perfect. In fact, in college, our friends used to tease him that his writing looked as if he printed it directly from the computer with a Comic Sans font. It's unusual for men to write so clearly. And it's not that it just magically came naturally to him. He worked to make his handwriting better.

I've noticed recently that my own handwriting seems to be getting sloppier. Maybe it's because I rarely use an instrument to write across a page anymore, but instead rely so much on typing on a computer (hey, my WPM has improved, ha). Or maybe it's because I don't have to write neatly. Or is it because I'm just not taking my time to write properly? Whatever the reason, I've decided I want my handwriting to look nicer. So when we had the opportunity to use a product from Everyday Education, LLC, I chose  the digital version of  Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting. For myself.     

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a simple program that teaches a child step-by-step how to read and write well. The 60 lessons teach phonics-based reading and italic handwriting. It's not solely for young children starting school though. There are 4 different ways to use this book.

  • To teach young children to read and write.
  • To teach children with reading difficulties to read effectively.
  • To teach children to have fast, legible, attractive handwriting.
  • To teach yourself to have beautiful handwriting. 
As I mentioned, I chose to use this myself. After I downloaded the book and started to scroll the pages, I thought, "Oh, man, what did I get myself into?" I took a calligraphy class in 6th grade and struggled through it. Since I have a type A personality and therefore don't enjoy doing things that I'm not good at, I have stayed away from calligraphy ever. Sad, but true. Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting teaches italic writing, a form of calligraphy. I was concerned.
The letters in italic writing are formed much differently than typical manuscript writing. Instead of making the letters round and curved, they are more jagged and asymmetrical. After 34 years of knowing that you write an O as a perfect circle, it seemed wrong to write it like an oval. The author describes why italic is a better choice though. "It is the easiest style to learn, the fastest to write, extremely legible, and beautiful to look at." She goes on to explain that the typical style of printing that children are taught now is very difficult to write and is discouraging because of it. It's more natural to write those O as ovals, and will therefore encourage a sense of self-confidence in the child and promote good writing.

The book suggests starting at Chapter 6: Handwriting Practice for those choosing to simply improve their writing and not needing the reading instruction. The first 5 chapters teach letter formation and reading, along with handwriting practice. Since the italic style of writing is very different from what I am used to, I figured it would be best to choose some practice pages from the beginning of the book, in order to get a grasp of the proper formation. I felt like my 4-year-old working on a handwriting page, ha. Trace. Write. Trace. Write. Trace. Write.

It was definitely strange starting out, trying to change my brain into making my hand form the letters differently. I haven't practiced nearly enough, but, as with all things, it gets easier over time. I appreciate how the author states that everyone will have his own style of italic. Manuscript printing gives no margin for difference, so this acceptance of variables is nice. She explains some of the differences like upright versus slanted, joined compared to separated letters, wide as opposed to narrow letters, edged pen in comparison to a regular pen, and the difference of adding serifs. Of course, there are example of each style along with practice pages, making it easy to duplicate.

Perfect Reading, Beauitful Handwriting is easy-to-follow and written in a conversational way. I plan to continue working through the pages myself and also switch to using this with my children. I already see characteristics of this style in their writing and have been trying to correct it. Now I realize that I may just need to change my own thinking, instead of my kids' writing.  


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If you'd like to read more reviews of this book or of one of the other resources used by some of my crewmates, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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