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06 March 2018

CursiveLogic and Art of Cursive {Crew Review}

For this review, CursiveLogic was kind enough to send us their CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack, which has two parts: a student workbook and a webinar, as well as The Art of Cursive, which is an adult coloring book. The student workbook is designed for teaching someone who is new to cursive. The adult coloring book is an abbreviated course for adult learners or students with some cursive experience, with a very clever system of working the necessary practice into  lovely coloring sheets.

Before I started to teach Dragon(7), I watched the webinar, which is an just under an hour long. It's geared toward a classroom teacher, but nearly everything is completely relevant to a homeschool situation. It goes through the student book page by page, describing precisely how the program is intended to work, and how to take advantage of the opportunities for multi-sensory learning that are built into it, with instructions for both right and left handed students. While I watched it I thought it was dry and probably overkill, but when I began teaching I found that I drew on it considerably more than I'd expected to; I am glad that I had it to learn from: I'm really not sure that I would have been as successful at helping Dragon with figuring out how to do cursive without it.

The lessons lay a careful foundation in terms of introducing correct posture and other foundational ideas before they ever pick up their pencil, which I really liked: this suits how I like to teach very well; I feel that it's worth the time to start slowly and carefully, taking the necessary time to lay a solid foundation, which makes later work go more smoothly. I'm not sure why, but cursive has been difficult for Dragon to learn; this is the second program that we've tried. But all the effort CursiveLogic puts into laying the foundation really has paid off. I think that their multisensory approach they use really sets kids up for success. There are verbal cues, sensory tracing activities, tracing while you write, completing incomplete letters, and only then after all that does the child attempt to write independently of any marks to trace. Even still, Dragon needed to go back and revisit previous steps. But it's all laid out in a way that made that easy, and the webinar definitely helped me know what to do to help him when he struggled.

I do wish that there was a place that I could go to get extra tracing practice; the CursiveLogic format is excellent, and it would be useful to me to have the ability to complete the entire sensory progression quickly at the beginning of the lesson a couple of times, and only then move into new materials, but there are not enough spaces for the relatively large amount of practice that he's going to need. Printables would be a very nice addition.
**A commentor pointed out that there are dry erase pages at the back - what a cool feature!

These are some of Dragon's first efforts. He was all over the place, and even after lots of tracing, discussing the way that the lines are supposed to guide the letters, doing the recommended chanting as he writes, and all the rest: it was just terribly difficult. But I'm pretty sure that's his challenge, and no failing of the CursiveLogic system. In fact, I think that the many methods of support that CursiveLogic gives the student are why he's making progress and will eventually be successful.

He doesn't have a lot of endurance for the work; his frustration rises very quickly, and we put it away after very short lessons, rather trying to push through the frustration and spoil the whole experience, so we're not very far into the book; the work they expect to be done in a single sitting we usually do in four or more. But he is showing some good progress with what we have done, and I am excited to see that, however slowly we are going, it is working.

CursiveLogic's course for teaching cursive to kids is great, but they also sent us their adult coloring book. Actually, it's more than "just" coloring book, though it is that. It's got some pages in the front for reviewing and practicing letter formation.

After he'd done those, he did some of the coloring sheets. These were interesting: the cursive strokes are worked into the picture. They're too fat for colored pencils to be effective; you need fine line markers. But it seems to have really helped him; his writing has improved nicely during the review period. He was particularly pleased to find a picture of a fountain pen because I said that when they complete their work on the lowercase alphabet I will buy them a fountain pen, and he was super excited to get his.

 One thing that I really appreciate is the way that they deal with letters such as /o/ and /b/ that have that dip on the letter. This changes the way that the next letter connects, and this has been difficult in our previous work with cursive. But the way that this program is set up, they make these connections easy and simple. Although Hero is only doing the short adult course, because I had seen the webinar I was able to successfully coach him through this part, which previously had been mysterious and difficult for him.

For an adult coloring book, you have to deal with the adult awareness of how the pen and the paper interact: does the ink bleed through? I love a good pen. I won't use a pen that doesn't feel good to write with, and I don't like things bleeding on or through paper; makes everything ugly. I tested several different things, and I was very pleased to find that whatever I used on these pages, it seemed to work: pencil writes nicely, and erases well. Colored pencils go on smoothly. My preferred pens write well and do not bleed through to the other side. I originally thought we'd do the pages primarily in colored pencil, but quickly realized that the letters were a little too wide for that to be attractive, so we switched to markers. Finepoint markers probably would have been ideal; CursiveLogic suggests using Crayola, but we had similar medium point markers, which do bleed through a little bit. It's not so much as to be a problem. I worked on this coloring sheet, testing how it would hold up:

I decided on a two-tone approach, with marker on the cursive strokes and used colored pencil on the backgrounds, because it's got a finer point for getting into the many small spaces. I understand now why it is that my son did most of his in the same color: this is a time-intensive activity. But it's soothing and pleasant. And I feel like it did help me to improve my writing, even with only doing just the little bit that I did, plus figuring out what to tell the boys to get their writing to look better.

On the back of the page, you can see that it did bleed through some, but not enough to make the writing spaces unusable. However, you'd have to be careful what pen you chose to use, or it would bleed through and spoil the picture, which would be a huge bummer.

Before we started, Hero(11) did a writing sample so that we could see the difference that it makes as we work through the books. He has worked on his cursive off and on, but still struggled with both reading and writing it at the beginning of his work in the coloring book.

After he'd done several coloring pages, earned his new fountain pen, and voluntarily switched most of his written work into cursive, I had him give me a sample again. You can readily see how much his writing has improved in the past several weeks.  He's still got a few kinks to work out, but I'm really happy with how he's doing. And what's even more exciting to me is that he's figured out the letters well enough now that he's reading cursive without a problem, which has always been a challenge. Neither book directly addresses that, so I guess it's just that he's hit a point where the practice at writing it just made things click. I like that a lot. It always makes me feel bad for teens when I find that they can't read cursive; it leaves the essentially illiterate to so much of our history.

I can say that all both CursiveLogic products have been a great fit for our family: CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack gave me the tools and support that I need to successfully support a student that's finding cursive very challenging, and the The Art of Cursive has been a great tool for helping my son finish growing into genuine fluency in both reading and writing the standard cursive script. And, they've even given Homeschool Review Crew readers a discount that's good to the end of March:

To read more reviews from other Crew families, click the banner below:


At Home where life happens said...

I also feel that more practice is needed which is where those dry erase pages at the back came in so handy. We loved having those for the extra practice. These are great products aren't they? We have really enjoyed CursiveLogic. - Lori

Ritsumei said...

Oh cool! I hadn't noticed that! We'll definitely be using those now. Thank you!


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