Ever heard of The Palmer Method of handwriting? Many of us around the country in small, slower schools were still being taught the Palmer method of cursive handwriting in the ’60s. It was considered a big step up from the excessive flourishes of Spencerian writing. Italic and D’Nealian hadn’t yet become options.
I admit, with embarrassment, handwriting was just one of those things I wasn’t thrilled about teaching my children. The fact is that no one can read my handwriting — including me. Among all of the A’s I received in classes the C’s (at best) in handwriting were a dark blot on my “Permanent Record.” There was nothing more provoking than writing a score of meaningless letters on paper. The intensity of the exercise made one want to run around the room a dozen times. So when it came to teaching my own something I didn’t highly value myself — the results were as you might expect. My mother writes beautifully. I write like my dad. We come from a line of engineering-type minds. My children write like engineers.
If you would prefer to do better than this when it comes to your own children — to do as I say, not as I did — then I can highly recommend the Palmer course of handwriting. It is a course — meaning it has a defined purpose with the goal of producing a student who can write legibly, and it treats handwriting as a science.
In teaching writing, as in other subjects, the final result should be the criterion. Pupils who follow absolutely the Palmer Method plan never fail to become good penmen.
Of course, the key to success or failure is not completion of the course, but the attention to detail, and the investment of the time it takes for each individual student to master each step. That amount of time will be different for each student — advantage: homeschool!
If studying the pictures on pages 8–10 closely, as recommended in the instructions, doesn’t send you careening out of the house for a brisk walk, then you’ll be ready for “Lesson 2: Physical Training in Penmanship Practice.”
One strong suggestion — keep it light. The Palmer Method was once used to keep delinquents in line. We’re just trying to teach good penmanship here.
A. N. Palmer
Brief bio and Palmer cursive chart.
The Palmer Method
Entire course (from the 1915 edition) online in easy-to-follow lessons. Read “The Palmer Method” intro, and then move on to the lessons via the menu at the top.