Elizabeth FitzGerald teaches homeschoolers how to teach their children to read using Wanda Sanseri’s Spell to Write and Read (SWR) program. Over the years of homeschooling her own children and teaching other parents, she began to investigate whether or not it made sense to teach cursive handwriting from the start rather than beginning with manuscript and transitioning to cursive. She experimented with her own children with very successful results. Cursive First grew out of the need to share her methods for teaching cursive in conjunction with (SWR). Wanda Sanseri initially resisted the cursive first approach, but eventually became a believer and supporter, writing the foreword to this book.
Cursive First teaches a fairly simple style of cursive; it includes simple loops and a moderate slant. A clock face is used to help with instruction along with the idea of a house with a main floor, basement, and attic for alignment. Kinesthetic activities for developing both gross and small motor coordination are suggested in the book, so this isn't simply a pencil-and-paper approach.
The Cursive First book is sold only with other items. The basic package includes the book, a set of cards, and practice worksheets. The cards should be laminated and cut apart. The cards feature models of each lower case letter on one side, and instruction information on the reverse for pronunciation, key words, and formation of the letter. Students use the reproducible practice worksheets to practice writing lower and upper case letters, phonograms as taught in (SWR), and numerals. Practice sheets provide practice with letters and words, but not sentences. FitzGerald suggests that you shift into having students practice their penmanship within their spelling lessons and other writing assignments as they develop enough fluency to do so.
The book serves as a teacher manual, including suggestions on how to align instruction with (SWR) lessons, even if teaching cursive as a transition from manuscript. The book also dedicates quite a bit of space to a history of the development of handwriting and an explanation of the methodology.
This course requires direct instruction although students should be able to actually practice on their own. There is no grade level designation, so it might be used with all ages. While it aligns with (SWR), it will work apart from that program. If you are not using SWR, you will need a package that includes the 70 Basic Phonogram Cards. See the publisher's website for the package options.