Guest post by Dana Hanley
I never thought much about handwriting when I started homeschooling. I never thought about its principles or developed any particular philosophy of what handwriting was or how good handwriting should be developed. I taught it exactly as I had been taught: through repetition and drill, expecting perfect conformity of letters. I must confess that I have had no more luck using this method with my daughter than my teachers had with me.
Each of my daughter’s letters are formed neatly during handwriting practice, but this neatness fails to carry over to any writing she does no matter how I emphasize the importance of neatness. By the beginning of this school year, I decided that maybe she needed something more than just more drill and began searching for a handwriting program that went beyond merely how to form letters.
Reading the introduction to The Palmer Method of Business Writing, I knew I had found something which fit my educational philosophy and our attempts at using the Biblical Principle Approach.
The copy-book has but one purpose–to secure absolute mechanical accuracy. The copy-book headline is usually first carefully penciled by a skilled penman after a given model, and shows none of the individuality of the penman employed in its construction. The penciled copy is given to a skilled script-engraver, who engraves it by hand and further perfects it wherever possible. This impossible and lifeless ideal the child is required to imitate through long, dreary pages of copying. No wonder he fails!
Yes, I despise rote copying as much as my daughter! But this was the first time I had heard that there was another way to teach handwriting. According to Palmer’s method, there are four components to neat and efficient handwriting, each as important as the other.
When a letter is poorly made, it may be due to one or all of four causes–first, the position may be poor; second, the muscles may be rigid, preventing easy action; third, the mind may not have a good picture of the form; and forth, movement direction may be wrong. (p. 30)
The book seeks through successive exercises to teach students these basic principles of handwriting so that they may be applied at all times, in all assignments.
Unfortunately, the book is out of print. I purchased a used copy through Amazon, but it has been out of print long enough to also be in the public domain. Scanned copies are available for free from several sources online, including The Internet Archive.
Dana homeschools her five children using the Biblical Principled Approach. She blogs at Principled Discovery.