From the archive...
The following discussion was originally posted on the (now discontinued) LOE Forum.
What is the logic behind the order in which the cursive letters are taught?
I am homeschooling my 9th and 10th children and using your program with them for the first time. My other kids were taught manuscript then cursive using generic cursive workbooks that generally taught the easiest letters first. So far in my usage of Foundations A Cursive, my children have been introduced to a, d, g, c, o, half of f, qu, and s. I can't find much logic in this (other than a is the base for d and g and q). Why not even include e or l in the early lessons? I'd love the know the thought process behind the ordering of all the letters, not only the ones mentioned please.
This is a great question, and it's something we have thought very carefully about!
In both Foundations and Rhythm of Handwriting, the main consideration is grouping the letters by the initial stroke, so that children learn letters that begin with the same stroke together before moving on to letters that begin with a different stroke. This helps with developing muscle memory, makes learning individual letters easier, and means you don't have to learn as many isolated strokes before you can start learning letters.
If you look at the Cursive Quick Reference Chart, you'll see that at the point where you are in Foundations, you have taught the Curve letters and are now beginning the Swing letters. You'll move on the e and l when you get to to Loop letters.
The secondary consideration for Foundations, in terms of which stroke group to teach first, is giving children a good assortment of consonants and vowel phonograms by the time they are ready to start applying their skills in phonemic awareness, phonogram knowledge, and handwriting to read and write words in lesson 21. You want them to have early access to phonograms used in a lot of short-vowel, one-syllable children's words.
For example, we start with Curve and Swing letters, meaning that by the middle of level A students have learned letters like a, d, g, c, o, s, t, i, p, and j. This equips students to read words like dog, sit, cat, dad, and top very early. If we taught Loop letters and Bump letters first and the phonograms available by lesson 21 were l, b, f, e, h, k, n, m, y, v, x, and z, we'd have some different limitations on which words to work with.
However, stroke type is the most important one; when people are teaching cursive to children who already know the A-Z phonograms, we tell them to teach the letters in groups by stroke type but that they can start with whichever group they choose.
The commenter wrote back with a followup question:
Interesting, thank you for showing me the logic in this. Would it be correct to assume that the manuscript book teaches letters in a different order than the cursive book teaches?
Not in Foundations, because there is only one teacher's manual for each level (A and B) and it is used for both styles. The cursive and manuscript handwriting instruction is provided side by side in each lesson so that teachers can use either one. So you introduce them in the same order no matter which style you choose.
Though the grouping by stroke type is a little more perfect for cursive, it actually works quite well for manuscript as well; for example, a, d, g, c, o, qu, and s, the first phonograms Foundations A teaches, are all Roll letters in manuscript, and the next three introduced, t, i, and p, are all Straight letters. In some cases students who are doing manuscript do not learn every single letter in a stroke group back to back, but they still learn them in clumps grouped by initial manuscript stroke. This allows students to work with the same phonogram, reading, and spelling activities no matter which style they are using.
In our Rhythm of Handwriting curriculum, on the other hand, the order is different in the manuscript book than in the cursive, since there is no other consideration to accommodate besides initial stroke type and the programs are completely separate. Each book groups letters by initial stroke.