- Me: (While visiting in a classroom) You are working so diligently on your penmanship right now!
- Learner: Penmanship? This is my handwriting practice, Mrs. Van!
- Me: Yes, but in my elementary school days, my teachers called it penmanship.
- Learner: You must be really old ’cause that’s a word my Grandy uses. 🙂
Our conversation moved into the realm of this child working so hard for a special handwriting award for the week—most improved cursive writing. She spoke of a news article her mom shared with her about a young girl from another state born without hands who recently won the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Award for $1,000 (way to go, mom, for sharing positive news stories with your child!). This little girl’s story made the rounds of conversation within the group so we did some quick research together to find the article online. It turns out the young girl, Annie, carefully manipulates her pencil between her forearms to control her strokes when writing. The picture with the article was a powerful testament to her diligent practice. My young friends chimed in: “If she can do this with no hands or fingers, then certainly all of us can do this as well!” 🙂
Transitioning from manuscript to cursive is a daunting task for young learners, especially in this digital age of keyboarding. In fact, it’s hard to justify WHY we need to practice our penmanship when there are so many other demands on our instructional time. I may be old (and with that comes some wisdom I hope), but clearly signing my name on official documents or writing a personal note of thanks are skills I appreciate having. Here’s hoping we all take a moment to reflect on the power of penmanship.