Who in their right mind would try to teach cursive AND manuscript to a child at the same time?  Sounds crazy, right?  I would have agreed with you years ago, but I’ve learned a few things that have completely changed my mind.  

How open-minded are you when it comes to trying something new with your children?  What I’m going to share with you might not rock your world, but it may change your mind!  

teaching handwriting

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Why Would I Want to Teach Both Manuscript and Cursive Together?

I was determined to teach my own children cursive first.  I had an education background and educational therapy certification that both said I needed to go that route.  I developed the handwriting course I wanted to use and went to work.  It was successful!  I felt so amazing that my child knew cursive and actually had great handwriting at an early age until my ultimate teacher/mom fail.  

We were in a public situation where my 2nd grade son was asked to print something, and he couldn’t do it.  It was so awkward!  That was 7 years ago, but that was when I started asking the questions.  

Why wouldn’t teaching cursive and manuscript together work?  Is there a scientific reason for teaching the two several years apart?  How could you do it without overwhelming the child?  What would a program like that look like?


Well, I am happy to say that after years of pondering, and more crazy experiences like the one I mentioned above, I have found the answer!  

It is called The Joy of Handwriting Success.  It is a handwriting course that takes my cursive, my manuscript, and the NEW dual program and fits them all together to give you the most complete handwriting program out there!  

How Does Teaching a Dual Program Work?  

I’m glad you asked!  My program uses a basic set of steps that can be taught at multiple ages and abilities.  There are suggestions for simple modifications if your child needs more help or even a little less.  If you’d like to see first hand my method of teaching handwriting, here are a few of my tips.  


1. Introduce the letter by showing students a flash card. Show an example of the cursive letter and the “letter you read.”  You can also go over phonics sounds for reinforcement at this time.

2. Introduce the strokes used for the letter and demonstrate them by tracing with your finger. Use verbal prompts. (i.e. uphill to the middle of the house, over, back and around the house and make a tag for a)

3. Have the student trace the letter a few times with their finger saying the verbal prompts out loud while he writes.

4. When they are ready for paper, demonstrate correct pencil grip and posture. Introduce the student’s name as soon as you feel the student is ready to start writing on paper. They may only be able to trace it for awhile.

5. Have the student verbalize each letter as they complete it, saying the writing prompts at first. When they are comfortable with writing the letter just say the name of the letter or its phonetic sound.

6. When the student has completed all letters and is proficient in them, introduce capitals and complete steps 1-5 with each one.



• If you have a student that has not started forming letters with a pencil yet, you may want to do steps 1-3 only.

• Create a small sandbox. I use a small plastic box with a snap tight lid and put enough colored sand in it to cover the bottom. Have students write the letters in the sand before moving to paper.  Chalkboards are also great to practice on because of the friction.  (I do not suggest using white boards.)

• You may want to go through all the letters once without using paper. This gives the child time to get familiar with writing before they even pick up a pencil.

• Do steps 1-3 until you feel the child is ready for pencil and paper.

• Start over with step one and go on to the rest of the steps with paper. Form words as students are ready to read them.


• Follow all the steps in order, skipping the sandbox if students are already starting to write comfortably on paper.

• Have students start linking letters into words as soon as you have completed enough letters to do so. For example, if you complete the vowels and uphill letters have the students practice writing words like: rat, tar, two, rate, too, tot.

• Start using copywork as soon as they are linking letters. This promotes automaticity and mastery.  You can find some of my copywork here.  

NOTE: With any child, if you notice frustration, do not push them to go further. Take a step back and have them practice at a level that does not cause frustration. Move on when you see confidence at that level. You can use a daily lesson page as many times as you need to, in order to achieve automaticity.

CLICK HERE to get these tips and a Bonus Poster in a free PDF!

 Then come back and check out The Joy of Handwriting Success Course!

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