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My 4 year old is ‘learning to write’ with me

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Hi everyone,

It has been a while since I visited the forum and did any calligraphy, three little boys can make your time and energy fly away ;)
But this holiday week I packed my new walnut ink and oblique pen and I started to write and learn something new again. Years ago I started with Copperplate and modern, and for some reason I did not want to dive into that right now, so I am a brand new Spencerian student :)

My eldest son joined me in practicing yesterday. While I was struggling with not letting my wrist touch the paper and the different shapes, he was trying to join his letters in a letter to his stuffed animal and writing the ‘most perfect k’. Very cosy.

This september he started to learn how to write in cursive (he skipped a grade) and to be honest: I was a bit hesitant when I heard that school is teaching cursive instead of print. I hated learning cursive as a kid and the first opportunity I got I started writing print because that was a lot faster. - Did anyone else dislike learning how to write at school and now loving Calligraphy? -
My son can write in print and in some way it seems more practical to really perfect that instead of learning a whole new, more difficult way, to write. He is also very young and I see him struggle a lot more more with cursive - he is a bit of a perfectionist
When he made mustard he wrote all the labels very clear and now that he is trying to write cursive I need to subtitle what he wrote :D

But it seems that despite all that he really likes it, so what do I know ;)

Now that I am learning something new too I can show him that new things are always hard, even for mommies. Every time we make a mistake we fist-bump, so I hope he’ll be a bit sweeter for himself while learning.

How was learning how to write for those of you that have kids? Did they correct you too when you weren’t writing the ‘proper’ r? :D

I attached some pictures for the curious ones out there. We don’t have a printer in our holiday home so I am writing on regular old paper. Spell check did not work so I hope I did not make any mistakes. But in case I did: fist-bump!

Erica McPhee:
Oh this is so fun to see (and read)! Wonderful work all around. And what a great advantage your kids will have! Thanks for sharing!  :-*

Hi, @sanne137 - It's great to hear that your child's school is teaching cursive.  Please let me add some encouragement!

The research from the last ten years or so indicates that learning handwriting and using cursive (in particular) aids children's learning outcomes in several ways.  Here's a short layman's summary about it:  And here's a more technical article:

I'm a university educator and researcher in the history of material book culture, and the outcomes we see for our own students' learning and retention of information correspond with the research.  The difficulty & laboriousness of handwriting/cursive itself seems to support and enhance the learning outcomes.

I learned how to write in cursive via the Palmer method when I was a young student, and inflicted shared that method with my kids throughout their school years.  They didn't love it at first, but we treated the process as matter-of-factly as learning math or reading or piano.  One just graduated and started college; the other is not far behind.  The elementary school taught cursive, but didn't follow up on it in middle school, so I reinforced the practice at home.  However, their advanced placement courses in high school emphasize[d] note-taking by hand, on the strength of the educational research, and my boys discovered that they could much write faster with cursive than print, because you don't have to lift your pen up between letters!  They kind of think of it as a super-power, along with being able to touch-type.  And as teenagers, they are also truly impressed at how much additional household income comes from my side-hustle in calligraphy & art.

We made it more fun for them to write by hand - and in cursive - by supplying them with guidelines marking x-height, ascenders, descenders, angles, etc, and also with interesting fountain pens and colored inks.  Jinhao makes one that looks like a shark!  It's fillable with any fountain pen ink, and it's very very cheap - only a few dollars.  I even got a bottle of "invisible ink" that glows under uv light - and that motivated them to write a lot of secret messages.  We also taught them how to write in Chinese and Japanese - which is easier and more fun with a fountain pen - and I'm sure they retain a little more of it because they did it all by hand.  In Asia very young children still learn how to write with fountain pens, so there are a lot of great options out there: Pilot, Platinum, and Jinhao all make pens designed and priced for children.

As for those "r's" -- You can remind your young calligraphers that there are two forms of cursive "r" that co-existed historically: the "French" and the "English" and both are "proper"!

So, best wishes on your parenting journey!  I'd tell you that it goes by fast, but I'm also keenly aware that some days are faster than others.
--yours truly, K

Thank you Erica for your nice words! That is really sweet.

And thanks for your response K!
It is really interesting to read that cursive in particular can help you learn other things better. I do remember from the 'learning how to learn' MOOC that studying should be 'hard work', not just underlining things, so you will retain it better. I can certainly see that the difficulty and work of cursive can help with that.

And how awesome is it to have a fountain pen with invisible ink! What an amazing idea! I have a couple of jinhao pens and a simple Waterman but I definitely have an invisible ink shaped hole in my life now! I know what I will ask Saint Nicholas this year! :D So cool! Oh and maybe another one for my son ;)

And very cool to be able to earn money with something you really like to do. I am not an entrepreneur, and do not have the confidence to let myself be seen.  Really awesome that you do. I admire that.

I was thought to write with a fountain pen as a kid. We had to 'earn' it after writing with a pencil very nicely. Our cursive was a lot more rounded than the Palmer method. Maybe that's why for me print was a lot quicker? They are a bit less rounded right now so maybe that's a plus in the speed department. The a and d for example, I had to go up, write a circle until 1 or 2 a clock and then go back and make a circle counter-clockwise. That took up so much time.

The cursive is nice though, maybe that's also the reason I started with Copperplate because I was used to the round shapes. Oh and I learned a fancy t and x, with curls, I still really like both.
We could transition to Bic pens and print in the last grade of elementary school if we wanted, and that's also when I developed my death grip. Now gone after a lot of practice.
Spencerian is so so different than what I learned at school but I do notice that the letters are faster if written as handwriting instead of calligraphy. I can't get used to some of the letters though. The Q, I and and both W's are just very different :D

Oh and about the 'proper' r: it wasn't even about the English or French one, my r didn't have a horizontal squiggly line so it was al kinds of wrong haha  ;D

This is the cursive that our elementary school is teaching now and the (German) cursive that looks most like what I was tought at school. :)


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