Tuesday, April 21


We had an opportunity to review a different handwriting program. Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting sent us two programs to try. These lessons were soooooo much simpler than Peterson's. There is some reading at the beginning, but it is laid out nicely and is a great foundation to refer back to as you progress through the lessons. It is an open and go program, taking no more than 15 minutes per day. It isn't divided into lessons, so I can't tell you how long the entire program would take to complete. Instead, it is divided into skills and you work on each skill as needed.

BFH is a unique style of handwriting. It does not look like traditional cursive nor print. It looks more like Italic with a dash of calligraphy thrown in for good measure. The curriculum does not follow a typical print model followed by a conventional cursive. You begin with a unique print that includes a few end tails that quickly progress to joining letters together. But as the book says: "It is not strict adherence to a model alphabet, nor to its join rules."

I remember hours upon hours spent practicing the same letters over and over again, perfecting my cursive penmanship. I still write well to this day....when I'm trying. But when I jot notes to myself or take notes while studying, my handwriting mutates into something completely foreign from my regular style. Sadly, I cannot always read those notes back to myself. When I am in a hurry, my handwriting shows it....as it does for most of us.

The goal in Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting is "maximum legibility with maximum speed." These simple lessons prepare students with a framework and their own style develops. This is the case in any handwriting lesson. Most of us begin with traditional lessons but few of us write with the method we were taught. We quickly develop our own unique handwriting style, which too often looks nothing like the cursive flashcards tacked above the chalkboard. This method does not look like those flashcards either, but it is attractive and VERY legible. It doesn't mutate, it just develops personal flair.

The Pros:
Relaxed handwriting that avoids hand strain and doesn't frustrate the students.
Speed with legibility - GREAT for taking class notes. A MUST for any future doctors out there who need to write quickly but wants to be extra nice to those reading their charts.

I just really, really like traditional cursive. It's pretty. I love the Palmer Method. Barchowsky is by no means unattractive, but it is built for function rather than art.

Another con might be the price. It costs $65.95 for the program, which includes manual and cd-roms. The cd contains worksheets, workshops, and activities to help you build your student's pages and develop their method. It is non-consumable so all of your students can benefit from it. You print only what you need from the cd, so it will not add much to the price by way of ink or printer paper.

The other program we were given to review is Fix It....Write handwriting program. It is almost more of a handwriting bootcamp. This is intended for older students and adults who have already learned cursive but wish to improve or change altogether. The program takes only two weeks to help you adjust your current method. There are 95 quality pages, pre-hole punched and easy to follow.

Because of the price of the BFH program, I've debated whether or not I could recommend someone use only the Fix It program in place of the other. I don't recommend it. The BFH is to teach a student handwriting. The rhythm is imperative and takes practice and drill to make it natural. Also, with the method, some letters just don't mix. You should not connect all letters, just the letters that fit the concept. If you are looking for a writing program, the details, drill, and rhythm covered in the Fluency curriculum are necessary. If you are an older student or adult looking to improve your existing handwriting, the Fix-It program is what you are looking for. It is much cheaper at only $17.95 .

For other thoughts on this program, be sure to check out The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Crew blog.

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