I've heard only good things about Classical Conversations, but I always assumed it was a complete program that would require rethinking my current homeschool line-up. I didn't realize until recently that you could purchase items separately and enjoy only the books that spark your interest. Prescripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations definitely sparked my interest, so we gave our first Classical Conversations publication a whirl.
Cursive writing has cropped up in the news quite a bit lately. Cursive writing is not included in Common Core standards. 41 states have adopted those standards, and only 2 of those have opted to re-include cursive anyway. Other states are also considering dropping cursive because it isn't assessed on No Child Left Behind tests. As we all know, children excel when we teach to the lowest common denominator < /sarc>, so it is inevitable that cursive falls to the wayside while schools teach to the test, but not to life.
Sadly, something beautiful and important is dying out. Cursive is much more than a 'pretty way to write.' There are myriad benefits to this skill that is now known as an art form. Psychology Today recently published a piece entitled What Learning Cursive Does For Your Brain. Let me tell you, it does a LOT. Recently it has even shown itself to be significant in courtroom trials.
As homeschooling families, we do not currently have to comply with Common Core standards. Hopefully, it will stay that way. I am thankful that this means our freedom to teach this very helpful skill to our children isn't dependent on the results of the cursive debate.
Passages and Illuminations is a copybook intended for students aged 9 and older. The copywork text is from American documents and includes the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the Mayflower Compact, and more. Also included are excellent quotes and speeches from great historical figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan.
Also included are Illuminated letters to copy. These range from basic to ornate and are simply beautiful. It made a nice change in the handwriting lessons throughout the week and seemed to highlight the fact that cursive writing really can be a work of art.
The book includes the piece to be copied with a row of blank lines underneath each line. The writing is light enough to trace, if you prefer. I've read that tracing doesn't actually benefit the brain, so we skip straight to copywork. I used this book with my son, Joel who is 13 years old and he wrote directly in his book, but it occurred to me later that it does not need to be a consumable workbook, but would make a great book to refer to instead. I'll need to order another one next year for my girls and remember that fact next time.
Copywork Lessons took Joel around 10 minutes to copy carefully. The illuminations could take him upwards of an hour if I let him, though I encourage him to keep these at around 10 minutes as well. He didn't want to copy them so much as he wanted to just invent his own.
We do copywork lessons each morning after our 'circle time' and before math. It doesn't take very long. Joel does copywork one day and illumination copywork the next. There are 146 pages in the book and we skip Fridays, so there is plenty of copywork to keep him busy for the year.
It does not include cursive instruction, but is intended for students who have already mastered the basic skill of writing in cursive. Instead, it is intended to hone and maintain those skills. It is the 4th book in a series, so if your student is in need of more instruction, you would benefit more from an earlier book in the series.