Mamas, Don't Let Your Children Grow Up To Write Sloppy!Melissa
An odd topic, I know. But one that is oddly close to my heart. My father was a calligrapher. He wrote books on Italic handwriting. Some were professionally published; others were self-published. Many were used in schools. Now, he did not always have beautiful handwriting. His conversion to italic was a momentous historical event in our house. It changed his life so much that he set out to share this gift with others, thus the books The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting and Italic Handwriting for Young People. In our home, handwriting was of the utmost importance. I grew up aware of the great controversy on how to form the letter “e.” Two strokes? Or one? Loopy handwriting was forbidden. As were ballpoint pens. We had pens galore in my house, but only a couple of ball points (used for pressing down through carbon copies only). Otherwise, we used felt-tip pens or fountain pens. The use of ball point pens was akin to sacrilege.
Fast forward to my adulthood. My dad passed on in 1990; his books went out of print, and I homeschool my children. What am I to do about handwriting? No methodology met my scrupulous examination. Time went on. I wished I had access to his books. I tried buying Italic Handwriting for Young People on line, but it moved too quickly for my younger children. And (don’t tell my late father this) I really didn’t care if they knew how to use an edged fountain pen. I just wanted them to be able to form their letters properly! I knew how I wanted my children to write. But I didn’t know how to teach them. So I pretty much didn’t. A book here, a book there. Different styles, different levels. I didn’t stick with anything. And next thing I knew, my oldest was in high school and her handwriting was not exemplary. (Sometimes not even legible.) I was embarrassed. I, of all people, should have taught my child how to write properly. With three children still in the formative stages (one in middle school rapidly approaching the point of a permanently established hand) I realized I could not do this again. I could not allow more of Fred Eager’s grandchildren to have handwriting that doesn’t even have a consistent slant! So I swallowed my pride and chose a handwriting program. Sure, I know my dad’s program was better, but at least my kids are learning something! Now, in just a few short months of consistent practice (and appropriate badgering for neatness and proper handwriting in schoolwork), I have hope for the first time, that the legacy of beautiful handwriting will continue into the next generation. I believe their handwriting will be legible, look like an adult hand and will give them the self-confidence that comes with beautiful, lovely handwriting. All it took was a decision and some consistency. This to say, I don’t care of you use a one-stroke “e” or a two-stroke “e.” I don’t care if you outlaw ballpoints or bring back the beauty of an edged pen. But for heaven’s sake, Mamas, pick a method and stick with it!
Now, with the help of Bright Ideas Press, I have turned my father’s handwriting into a font. In Illuminations, we have used this font to create traceable copywork. I have found that, in addition to their copywork, my students still needed a series of books to teach the methodology behind their letter shapes and give them regular practice with those specific shapes. My choices: Getty-Dubay or Barchowsky.