Sometimes I imagine myself a fly on the wall of the Library of Congress, two hundred years hence. I see people standing around the hand-written Declaration of Independence puzzling about what it says, because they cannot read it.
Reading cursive writing is becoming a lost art.
Writing in cursive has fallen by the wayside of academics for so many of us because we keyboard or text.
Cursive and Spelling You See?
However, as beautiful and beneficial as cursive is, especially for dyslexic children (because the flow of cursive writing keeps them from flipping letters) it does not have a place in Spelling You See.
Parents often ask if a student can use cursive for Spelling You See in their copywork. I know that parent intimately.
When a parent asks that question, they have my heart. They are looking for a “twofer experience”, thinking that they can use Spelling You See to teach both penmanship and spelling. They are crestfallen when I tell them that doing copywork in cursive actually defeats the purpose of the copywork.
The Purpose of Copywork
Let’s remember that the purpose of the copywork is to help us commit to long term memory the common spelling patterns we encounter. We have to do copywork in print, because we read in print.
In fact, Dr. Holinga, the author of Spelling You See, says that the neatness of the copywork is not an important concern. I have often heard her refer to it as “sloppy copy”. The purpose of copywork is so that we can visually recognize the word patterns. As a student’s encounters with passages of copywork continue, the proper patterns become committed to long term memory.
We hear often from parents that their children hate holding pencils. I know that struggle is real. Boys in particular really balk at the process of learning to write with a pencil.
I think that if parents knew how truly important it was for their child’s brain development, they would not find it difficult to make their children pick up that pencil. The neurological act of using a pencil on paper, and the resistance that the pencil offers the writer – neurologically different from a smooth glide of a ball point pen — helps to organize the brain. It opens those pathways in a way other educational endeavors do not. If you have a child who is truly resistant to writing, keep in mind that ten minutes of copywork will accomplish the goal of the exercise. What you will also find is the student who truly melts at the thought of those ten minutes of copywork will become less resistant as time continues.
I know how important it is to choose which hills you are going to take, regardless of the battle. I have been choosing those hills for over thirty years. The copywork of Spelling You See is so much more than just a brief spelling exercise. The benefits it yields will meld into your other academic endeavors. The confidence it will produce in your student is well worth the effort. Go take that hill, and remember to hold the same kind of determination the drafters of the Declaration of Independence held – they would not be denied, and neither should you, when it comes to your child’s best interests. To paraphrase a popular phrase: Be calm and copywork on!