Monday, April 13, 2015

Memoria Press ~ New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 ~ REVIEW

Does your child struggle with writing in cursive? My youngest daughter did struggle with it until we had the chance to review New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 from the wonderful company, Memoria Press. She is now writing her name and everything else in cursive. It's been a wonderful accomplishment for her.

A Little About Memoria Press

Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy-to-use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. It was founded by Cheryl Lowe in 1994 to help promote and transmit the classical heritage of the Christian West through an emphasis on the liberal arts and the great works of the Western tradition.

New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 is the first book in the New American Cursive program. It was developed by Iris Hatfield, with over 35 years of experience in the handwriting field, the book improves the process of teaching handwriting and allows students to start at a younger age.  It was designed with the first grader in mind. I must say that I started late and my daughter is in the third grade. Was it still beneficial for her? Very! Do I believe it is perfect for a first grader? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I wish I would have had this when my daughter was in the first grade. I don't think we would have struggled with cursive as much as we did. There is a wonderful page in the workbook that talks about the benefits of starting cursive training early.

New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 uses a delightful meerkat as a teaching guide. Mr. Meerkat is adorable! In the beginning of the workbook there is a page introducing Mr. Meerkat and also a link to learn more about meerkats. My daughter loved learning that meerkats are among the few animals known to actively teach their young.

How did New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 teach my daughter to write in cursive?

The New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 breaks down learning cursive in a bunch of different but very effective and easy ways. 

The first thing my daughter learned about was the Three P's of Penmanship. 
  • Posture
         My daughter learned about how important it was to place both feet on the floor and sit straight
  • Pencil Position
         She already knew how to properly hold a pencil, but this was still good to review. 
  • Paper Position
         She also learned that her paper should be slightly off-center towards her writing shoulder.

I appreciated the fact that illustrations are included for the Three P's of Penmanship. Seeing the illustrations helped my daughter understand what was being asked of her.

The next step was to learn to correctly write the letters. There are three exercise pages per cursive letter. 

  • Instruction 
        In this step my daughter learned how to correctly form the letter.

  • Practice
        This is where my daughter was able to trace and then practice writing the letters.

  • Play
       This page allowed for additional exercises as well as free space for artwork and trying out new            letters.  My daughter loved that Mr. Meerkat showed step-by-step how to form the letters. 

As my daughter progressed through the book and began to master letter formation, she was then able to focus on the Three S's 

  • Size
  • Slant
  • Spacing

I loved the fact that unnecessary strokes are eliminated in this program.  The New American Cursive alphabet has 26 fewer strokes than the top three most common cursive programs. I believe this was very beneficial to my daughter. She didn't seem to show much trouble in learning and writing the letters. Even though the letter forms are simplified they still retain the classic form for legibility. The workbook was simple, clear, and effective for my daughter. 

There is also a teacher's guide included in the front of the workbook. This was helpful for me, as I was able to make sure she was using the book as needed as well as offer additional help and support. In the back of the book there is a wonderful handwriting evaluation checklist. I loved having this! It was very helpful in seeing the areas that my daughter may or may not need more help in. It is recommended to test correct letter formation and connections on a weekly basis.

Final Thoughts

My daughter worked in New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 for about 30 minutes a day and she thoroughly enjoyed it. This was a true blessing for her and I know that it would be very beneficial to other families as well. It was really fun as a mother to see her excitement when she finally got it. It really was simple and effective. I highly recommend it!

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