Cursive First: An Introduction to Cursive Penmanship

Historically cursive was taught first to our nation’s children. Today, reading and dyslexia experts are rediscovering that teaching cursive first–before print or manuscript–improves long-term penmanship skills, helps children learn to read, virtually eliminates reversals, and enables children to read what is written by others. Cursive First introduces children to writing numerals, the cursive alphabet, and the most common phonograms of the English language. The package coordinates with the instruction found in the highly successful Spell to Write and Read and The WISE Guide by Wanda Sanseri, and can be used with the beginning writer or an older student transitioning from print to cursive.

Why teach cursive first?

You can read an abridged version of the first chapter from Cursive First on the rationales for teaching cursive as the initial penmanship here.

What’s included in Cursive First?

The Teacher’s Manual includes discussion and instructions aboutCursive First Package

  • the rationales for teaching cursive first
  • developmental considerations and how to prepare the young child
  • the reference tools used to teach penmanship
  • how to teach cursive penmanship to beginning or transitioning writers
  • how to use the practice sheets
  • detecting visual and perceptual problems

The Practice Sheets

  • include detailed instruction and dialogue for teaching numerals, cursive strokes, and the first 26 phonograms
  • utilize narrow ruled, dotted lines for practice
  • provide brief and specific practice of phonograms under current study
  • teach lower case letters separately from capital letters
  • teach connections between letters from the very beginning and in the natural context of multi-letter phonograms
  • provide solid and dotted line models for writing, but quickly wean the student from tracing to more active learning and writing
  • can be used as masters to copy as many times as needed for each child in your classroom or family

The Cursive First Card Set

  • provides practice for reading the first 26 phonograms in cursive to encourage instant recall
  • includes instructional dialogue for writing the phonograms and sample of cursive writing
  • includes instruction cards for teaching numerals and cursive letters
  • is ready to cut apart and laminate for durability
  • is printed on yellow card stock to differentiate them from other phonogram or spelling rule cards.

The 70 Basic Phonogram cards (sold separately)70 Basic Phonogram Cards

  • These cards help your student read and write the letters that make up the written language we call English.
  • If you have the Core Teacher’s Kit for SWR, you will already have these cards, so all you’d need is the Cursive First package.
  • If you’re planning on using Cursive First separate from SWR, you’ll need the phonogram cards. See our Cursive First FAQs page for more information on why we recommend this.

The Phonogram CD (sold separately)

  • The audio CD helps you learn the phonograms so that you can teach your students correctly.
  • Your student can listen along to the CD as well.
  • Together with the 70 Basic Phonogram Cards, the CD or mobile app completes your Cursive First package (available from Google Play or iTunes for your mobile device).