Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homeschool Review: Handwriting 1 for Young Catholics

First Son practices writing four days a week. We do dictation once a week, copywork once a week, and either use this book or write a letter to a friend or family member two days a week. (When we write a letter, First Son dictates to me. I write it out for him. Then he copies it. If he's been more verbose than usual, he takes two days to copy it.)

First Son learned the Zaner-Bloser method of handwriting in kindergarten with this book. He loved it, especially the silly illustrations (all in color). It was too short, though, not even enough practice for handwriting one to two times a week for the year, so I purchased an additional practice book.

For first grade, I wanted one book that would last all year and bought Handwriting 1 for Young Catholics on CathSwap (never used). It's a nice thick book with lots of practice. Even working through two or three pages each day we practice handwriting (again; once or twice a week with the book), he is not even half way through the book.

In the beginning of the year, each letter is introduced (one page of uppercase letters and one page of lowercase letters). A larger letter at the top includes dots where the writing should start and arrows showing the directions. Written instructions also clearly state how the letter should be formed. Each letter (and number) has twenty examples to trace. (There's room to write beside them as well.) Though it's not the Charlotte Mason way, I usually asked First Son to complete the whole page and then we'd talk about the letters that were best formed, often circling them because First Son liked that. (We're changing to an approach more like Charlotte Mason this week.)

After one practice page for each uppercase letter, lowercase letter and numbers up to 10, there are full pages to trace and copy for letters organized by similar strokes. We've just started those with a few days of "l" and "L." As we continue to move forward in the book, there are words and sentences, some of which are religious and Catholic in nature like "Pope Pius gave a talk."

Interspersed with the pages of practice are full-color illustrations of stained glass windows depicting religious themes that match the letters (the Last Supper when practicing "L," for example). First Son (and First Daughter) love the illustrations. I think I would have liked illustrations on the pages with the practice letters as well. If we were tearing the pages out of the book (they are perforated), First Son would hardly see the illustrations at all. The book doesn't lie exactly flat, so leaving the pages in the book means First Son has to manage writing near the binding. He hasn't complained, though, probably because the book is landscape and his practicing is usually not very close to the binding.

Handwriting practice is not particularly fun, but I think it's important. This book worked well because it has lots of practice and the illustrations are beautiful. I think we'll ask First Son to practice handwriting a little during the summer as well, especially since we have lots of pages left in the book, but I'm going to be more like Charlotte Mason and require something like six perfect letters and then he's done, even if he still has a lot of room left on the page. I plan to purchase Handwriting 2 for Young Catholics for second grade, which will introduce cursive handwriting about half-way through the book.

This is an honest review of the book. I did not receive anything in exchange for this review. I purchased the book (second-hand, but unused and new). I do not receive anything if you follow the links to Zaner-Bloser or Seton.


  1. Thanks so much! That was very helpful!

  2. JenniferM, I'm glad the review was helpful.


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