I'm so excited to announce our first March Break Children's Handwriting and Cursive Writing Camp, along with a bonus optional Calligraphy Class at the end of it. March Break Cursive Writing Camp in Toronto
If you sign up for both at once, you save $10 off the total cost. All supplies provided, children ages 8+.
For the four-day cursive writing camp, Michele Nidenoff, one of our calligraphy teachers, will be working with students to teach the basics of forming cursive letters. Everything from posture and grip, to the slant and consistency of letters, and how to form and join different combinations, this four day intensive course is designed to give your children a very solid foundation to establish life-long penmanship.
On Friday, Mark Lurz, head of the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto, will be teaching an introduction to calligraphy class for children! This is for kids who want to take it to the next level, and are ready to learn how to make beautiful, calligraphic letters beyond just cursive writing.
You do not need to attend the March Break Cursive Writing Camp to attend the Children's Calligraphy Class on Friday - you can sign up for either one, or both! If you sign up for both, though, you save $10. You can register online, over the phone (416 799 5935), or in the shop. You can always call or email as well if you have any questions.
We'll have all supplies necessary, as well as nut-free treats and juice for break. Space is limited.
There are all sorts of reasons why it's advantageous for kids to learn cursive writing, including, but not limited to:
|Monday, March 14th||Tuesday, March 15th||Wednesday, March 16th||Thursday, March 17th||Friday, March 18th|
Cursive Writing Camp with Michele Nidenoff, $165
10 am to 11:15 am
|Calligraphy Class with Mark Lurz, $65 10 am to 12 pm|
- When cursive is mastered, it's faster and easier to write in cursive than it is in print.
- Most private schools are continuing to require learning cursive writing, and as public schools begin to lessen their focus on it, in the workplace, cursive writing may become a marker for a certain type of education.
- Studies are showing that in class, taking notes by hand is more effective than typing.
- Students who have good penmanship often have more confidence in how and how much they write, so in school, they focus more on learning than on the process of physically writing.
- Studies are showing that there is link between creativity and writing by hand.
- It can be fun! Just like some children may enjoy drawing, some children may enjoy writing, and this is a way to give them structure to learn the skill properly.
We just got in these two new products from Clairefontaine that we special ordered weeks ago, specifically for handwriting and great for kids, and along with so much great interest from the recent Globe & Mail article on cursive handwriting, I thought I would share some tips on teaching your child handwriting. Seyes, or French-ruled paper has been pretty popular ever since we started carrying it - with people looking to improve their handwriting, people looking to learn, calligraphers. If you're not sure on how to get started with Seyes-ruled paper, I wrote a blog post on using it here. The tricky thing about the Seyes ruled paper is not only are there so many lines, they are also pretty close together. If you read my post on improving your handwriting (as an adult), you'll know I think it's easier to learn and master handwriting by practising larger first, especially if you're not quite at the stage where fiddling with smaller o's is working for you. We just received in a larger sized Seyes ruled paper in two formats: loose leaf and in an A4 notebook. This is the same Seyes ruling proportionally, except about 25% bigger. This is also, of course, perfect for kids. If they're ready to move on to more precise cursive, or a bit more of a challenge, help them learn how to write "French-styled" cursive. If you're looking for reasons to teach your child handwriting, you can check them out here, but I suspect you're already convinced, or you would be here. Here are a few tips on helping your kid learn cursive handwriting:
- Go to your local bookstore, or a place that sells materials to teachers, like Scholar's Choice, and pick up a workbook on cursive writing. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend one over another, as cursive handwriting isn't too complicated - just look for one that gives lots of room for practise. You can get a special notebook for your kids to practise writing stories or copy out sentences on separately.
- Get your child a special pen, maybe one that they pick out on their own. Even if you're a traditionalist for blue inks in thank you notes, maybe your kids can still practise in green or purple or pink. If they can only write with this pen to practise their cursive handwriting, it may be an incentive to practise.
- Have everything set up in one place, or in a box, so when you're all finally sitting down to practise, you don't have to go hunting for that pencil sharpener or more worksheets.
- Consistency is key - better 15 minutes a day, or every other day, than 2 hours a week. This also has the advantage of not making it turning it into a crazy two hour writing session where you all come out like zombies.
- Watch them form the letters, rather than just looking at the final product. The letters may look good, but it can be hard to tell sometimes if they're forming their letters in one stroke (properly), as opposed to breaking them up, and joining them up separately.
- An occasional treat, like practising cursive handwriting at a cafe with a hot chocolate, may be something to keep the learning fun.
- I give out stickers, both for completing a section, but also smaller stickers to acknowledge a group of letters or words that are particularly well done. Kids need some incentive for doing the work, but also for doing it well, which has the added bonus of incentivizing them to learn what is good.
- As much as learning should be fun, there are some things, like multiplication tables and also cursive writing, that just need to be practised. While you shouldn't become a drill tyrant, sometimes your child just needs to put in the hours to develop that muscle memory.
- Lead by example with your own handwriting, or at the very least, show them what they're aiming for and why it's important. Remember, you're teaching them a skill that can be helpful for the rest of their life, and they should know that too.
I am so thrilled to tell you that the Globe and Mail published an article on the lost art of cursive handwriting and its place in our ever-changing and fast-paced world. I knew it was coming, mainly because Dave McGinn, the reporter, contacted us a few weeks ago to ask about our Children's Handwriting Class and the parents that bring their kids and how it's all going. I feel like every once in a while an article pops up sharing a study on learning cursive writing or letter writing or hand writing in the classroom, and I think it's because as the world collectively speeds along, amassing information exponentially, there is some pause in our society about what we may be losing as we race ahead. Here are a few reasons why everyone, and children in particular, may consider learning cursive writing:
- The hand/mind connection when you write in "joined up writing" helps your mind also join up thoughts and ideas. Check out this article for more details. To me, this is the number one reason: it helps you think, be effective, be creative. Writing by hand in a journal to help you debrief after a long day, taking notes in a meeting (rather than typing rote dictation of things being said), firing up neurons to get your brain thinking. This article outlines all the ways writing by hand, and cursive writing in particular, helps you think, aiding in memory, people with learning disabilities, cognitive development, the list goes on.
- Confidence - having clear, legible and effortless handwriting can give the writer confidence, whether it's sending off a thank you note to your boss, or a letter to your grandmother. For school-aged children especially, struggling to form letters (neatly) can take up precious brain space that could be used to understand or form new ideas. I think being embarrassed about something as integral to us as our hand writing is a bit like being embarrassed about your voice.
- Cursive handwriting can truly be beautiful. Your handwriting can be something that sets you apart, and makes people stop and pause and remember you. It can be an art form, and one that just requires a piece of paper and a pen.
- Speaking of being set apart, as the public school system increasingly de-emphasizes cursive writing while the private schools system still requires students to learn it, more and more graduates of our public schools may be at a disadvantage when they struggle to read notes from their boss or sign their name. Cursive handwriting may become a marker for a "higher level" of education.
We just had our Children's Handwriting Class earlier this afternoon, which was a lot of fun! We had a few kids come over to the shop and I was a bit more prepared this time with some folders and worksheets and my favourite stickers. I learned about pet hamsters and new teachers for the school year, and the kids practised some cursive writing in purple and green and pink ink. Inspired by kids learning cursive writing, of course I think about all you adults out there. We do offer calligraphy classes, but I'm more talking about 'regular' handwriting for taking notes at the office or writing a letter to your grandmother. We sometimes get customers who come in to get a fountain pen because they have an interest in improving their handwriting, and so having the right tools is important. For a lot of us, we sometimes think we'd like to improve our handwriting (we'd like to lose weight, we'd like to clean out the garage, we'd like to...), but we just haven't found that perfect starting point. When people ask how to improve their handwriting, the short answer is: there is no magic - it's just practice, practice, practice. Seeing a group of kids in front of me, admittedly some more eagerly than others, picking up their pens to practise their e's and i's and t's over and over is a great reminder that handwriting is a skill that can be learned at any age. In case you needed some encouragement, I thought I would put together some general tips to learning cursive writing or just improving your handwriting in general.
- Find a pen you like. You could even have a dedicated pen for this purpose, so it becomes a treat to practise your handwriting.
- Get a notebook that you can use just for your practice. I find larger A4 sized notebooks are good because you have lots of room for your hand and wrist to get full lines and sentences in. By having a notebook or even a binder of pages, you can also see your own progress.
- Seyes ruled paper is great, but if that's not your thing, graph paper is also good. This helps you form consistently sized letters. Write large (rather than your current size), so you can get a better view of how you are forming your letters and compare it to how you should be forming your letters. Finding graph paper or even writing on every other line may help you to do this.
- Write slowly. Take your time forming your letters correctly - if you just practise the same way you're currently writing, then you probably won't see too much improvement or change.
- Try not to grip the pen so hard, which I know can be difficult when you're trying to focus at the same time. The harder you squeeze your pen, the more jagged and jerky your letters become, and the more difficult it is to create flowing letters.
- Go to your local library and get a physical book with samples of cursive writing and how to correctly form the letters. I'd like to do a separate post on the resources out there that are the most helpful, but I think I need a bit more time to try them out myself, and also maybe take a few photos so you can see what's in the pages. You can find a lot on the internet, especially videos, but it's nice to have a paper reference to look back and forth at, without having to rewind to see what direction the strokes are in. Also a paper book is nice for a cafe visit ;)
- Copy out your favourite poems, essays or even write out the words you hear while you're watching Netflix at night. Try not to zone out too much though, since you should take care as you form each letter.
We just had our first Children's Handwriting Class! I think it was a success, but I think to really find out how it was you'll have to ask the students (haha!). I guess I should've given them popsicles on the way out ;) We actually had a waitlist of kids to come, so I think there are both parents and children interesting in handwriting. Even if you're not interested in this whole "lost art" business, learning a skill can only be helpful to someone in life, especially something like cursive writing that aids in reading and writing. We were supposed to have a few more kids, but we had two cancellations at the very last minute, not enough time to contact our waitlisted kids. In case you have just started reading the blog, I used to be a public school teacher before we opened up the shop, so I figured I could handle teaching a small group of kids cursive writing. I thought I'd be able to ease back into the saddle, but it was totally different! When I was a teacher, I sometimes reviewed or taught cursive writing, but only briefly, in late June after report cards had been turned in. In June of my last year of teaching before the business, I had the kids draw 3D or perspective drawings (which I had taught for geometry) on the top half of the page and cursive write a caption at the bottom. It was really interesting because the sheets where you have a blank top half for a drawing and lines for writing on the bottom are usually for much younger students, and you get the stick figures and crayons. When you looked at these kids' sheets, though, you would have to do a double take because middle school students can really surprise you at perspective drawings - it's a skill that can be taught. I wish I had kept a few of them to show you! I actually would only spend maybe 1-2 class periods on it, which is around 60-80 minutes, and I would usually expect to be able to not only get through the entire alphabet, lower and upper case, but also have time for the kids to practise and review. I think I grossly overestimated how much would get done with today's class, mainly because some of these kids were still mastering printing and had little experience with cursive. I had some other things planned, but I only got through a few letters of the alphabet! The youngest students in this class were 7-9 years old. I think in schools, if cursive writing is taught in Grade 3, they will do one one letter a day. Cursive writing is a skill that needs to be learned and practised. So of course, practically speaking, today was just a toe in the water. So, there are a few things I think I'll tweak for next time! Because I had such a range of kids, from kids that had not quite mastered printing, to kids that already knew how to form cursive letters and maybe only needed a bit of practice, for the next class, I'm going to be doing a more learn-at-your-pace style. Kids that already know the basics of cursive can go on to practise the letters they have a hard time with or practise entire sentences or poems. Kids that haven't learned any cursive at all can take their own time to learn each letter individually before moving onto the next one. Of course in order to learn cursive writing, it has to be practised regularly, whether it's at home, or in a more formal setting like a classroom or a workshop like ours. I'm still working it out, but there will be different rulings of paper rather than graph paper, more structured worksheets and folders, (optional) take home practice sheets and stickers! I have already broken out my old box of stickers from when I was teaching. Yes, even students in Grade 7 can get into stickers... although I think it's the enthusiasm of the teacher that makes the students ;) As we go along, I'd like to do a blog post on more practical tips on teaching children handwriting for you at home, especially if you don't live in Toronto and can't send your kids here. I think learning the skill of cursive writing is like learning to ride a bicycle, once you learn it, you've learned it. You may be a bit rusty if you don't practise for a while, but you know how to do it, and you can pick it up again. It's important for the brain and hand connection, for historic and artistic reasons, for self confidence, for fine motor skills. There are a few studies that show kids with learning disabilities sometimes find cursive writing easier and better than printing - here's an example from PBS - mainly because there's a flow to the writing, rather than disjointed marks when you print and lift straight lines that need to be put all together into letters and words. Our next class is going to be on Sunday, September 20, from 2-3pm! Any new students will receive a Platinum Preppy fountain pen with their first class, although they can also bring whatever they'd like to write with. Old students can use their Preppy from their first class or they can also bring a pencil case or whatever they like. Rest assured, if students come to class empty handed, we'll have something here for them to write with. Register by e-mail, phone or in shop. And just for fun, here's a photo of Caleb after he dropped all the "Hello, My Name Is" name tags on the floor, 15 minutes before the class began. Obviously he is looking for his own name, while practising downward dog.
Edit: Thanks for all of your interest! The class is currently full. Please e-mail to add your child's name onto our waiting list. Stay tuned for more classes! I'm getting back in the saddle! We're going to be hosting a handwriting and cursive writing class for kids on Sunday, August 23, and I'm teaching! It's like riding a bicycle, right?? ;) While calligraphy is a beautiful art, cursive writing is skill that can be useful throughout someone's life. These days, the debate on cursive writing being taught in schools can be heated, but whether or not your child's teacher is teaching it, or if you feel strongly about your child learning, the fine motor skills of cursive writing can only be an asset. In many ways, there is a lot going on in a kid's brain when they're learning in school, and I think if they are confident in physical act of writing, then their brain can focus on learning the new ideas being taught. Additionally, handwriting and cursive writing can be something that is relaxing and enjoyable. Smooth, flowing curves and even lines, the hope is that your child's writing is something he or she can take pride in forming. With school barrelling around the corner in September, this is a good way to flex those fingers and get writing again. This one hour class is a chance for your child to spend some time with a pen and paper, and to learn or practise some cursive writing. Students need to be at least eight years old, and have mastered printing skills, ideally at least entering Grade 3 in the fall. Their printing writing doesn't need to be neat or perfect, but they need to be able to print all of the letters confidently - they need to have mastered printing in order to be able to effectively learn a new way to write the letters. This class is taking place from 2:00 - 3:00 pm on Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. It's free, and each student will receive a Platinum Preppy in his or her choice of colour. If your child has another pen, pencil or favourite fountain pen they'd like to use, please bring it along! Parents or care-givers are more than welcome to hang out around the shop, or grab a coffee in and around Leslieville and give your child a chance to just sit and have fun. Space is limited, and you need to register to hold your child's spot by sending us an email, giving us a call, or visiting us in-store. You will receive a confirmation email upon registration as well as an email reminder the week before the class. Please let us know in advance if there are any special needs or accommodations. The goal here is to introduce or reinforce cursive writing skills and hopefully enjoy it! Practice makes perfect, though, and while I'm not giving homework, students should be able to go home and continue to practise some of these skills ;) If all goes well, we may have more classes!