We’ve been introduced recently to a unique company, Laurelwood Books, which produces and sells some beautiful materials for homeschoolers. Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received their cursive handwriting program, Patriotic Penmanship, to use and review. In particular, we used their Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book.
What is Laurelwood Books?
Laurelwood Books is a company which provides, as their tagline reads, “homeschooling books, help and advice.” In their shop, you can find everything from curricula of all sorts (science, math, language arts and more), to excellent books, CDs, DVDs, and other material interesting to the homeschooler! These range from time-honored classics to newer publications. (I have to tell you that one of their current specials pictured on their website is a Nancy Drew novel that I owned as a grade schooler, years ago!) Crew reviewers received one of a great variety of curricula to review, including Latin readers and workbooks, penmanship books, and books for state study.
Author Mary Ellen Tedrow of Laurelwood Books has created a penmanship curriculum with books for every grade level from 1st grade through 12th. The series is entitled Patriotic Penmanship, and it’s composed of books featuring noble and inspirational quotes about America, faith, and life for students’ handwriting practice. The softcover books (which are consumable, for one student’s use) teach manuscript printing in grades 1 and 2. Grades 3-6 (which also have one book per grade) continue student work in cursive. The last two books in the series are one book each for Junior High (grades 7-8) and High School (grades 9-12), both continuing cursive work.
We received the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book. It is an 8 1/2″ x 11″ softcover book with a laminated cover. The inside pages are white (and smooth), and since it’s a consumable cursive handwriting book all the work is done in this. You will need one book for each child. (No other materials are required.) Mary Ellen’s instructions for the parent are short and sweet: each week, start by reading the entire quote to your child. Then, assign to him the amount of work that he can capably complete each day. Her lovely reminder to give grace to your children as they write, allowing them some creativity, is really appreciated in our house!
There are 30 lessons total in the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book, plus a couple of pages of alphabet practice at the beginning. This makes it perfect to use for one year’s work in handwriting/penmanship. Each week’s lesson begins with a quote; each one is either from a historical figure from America’s (or world) history, a Scripture passage, or from influential Christian men and women. You’ll find wonderful words which encourage, inspire, and uplift, from sources like:
- the Declaration of Independence
- Wernher von Braun
- Benjamin Franklin
- Harriet Beecher Stowe
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Abraham Lincoln
- and more!
These beautiful words from Scripture, from poetry, and from landmark speeches will be not only excellent for penmanship practice, but for the heart and mind of the student as well.
After you read the quote to the student, he’ll begin the Tracing and Writing Practice. Each quote has two lines on which handwriting is practiced: first, a line where the words are printed in dotted format, where the student traces over them. Following that is a blank line where he’ll rewrite the words he just traced. When he has completed this section, he’ll move on to the Full Quote, designed so that the entire quote is written on the blank lines given. Then that’s the end of that week’s lesson!
Since we’re working on this during the summer, which is more of a “homeschooling lite” time for us, we didn’t complete 5 days in a row of penmanship work (as directed in the note to teachers), but more of a 3-day schedule. Otherwise, we basically followed the plan set out by the author. Jackson, who just completed 8th grade, started with the alphabet practice. Then, we moved on to other quotes in the book. He’d generally complete about 3 lines of a quote per lesson, which works out to six lines of handwriting, since the quotes start with tracing and follow that with the freehand writing.
I LOVE the quotes that Mary Ellen has used in this book. They are truly words that will lift the spirits of anyone who reads them. I like her encouragement to assign to your children just what they’re capable of completing in a day. However, it did take us a bit of time to get used to this new format. Jackson hasn’t done tracing in his handwriting practice in quite awhile, and I think this can overwhelm a student IF you don’t follow Mary Ellen’s recommendation, since at the beginning of each lesson the quotes are first traced, then rewritten on a new line. I think it just looked like a lot to him at first. But he did ease into the new format.
When I applied for this review, I wasn’t really sure if I should have asked for the Junior High book or the High School one. Since my son officially starts 9th grade in the fall, I decided to ask for the High School book. And the first thing we noticed when we opened the book was that the lines (which are the standard handwriting lines, with a top and bottom unbroken line, and a midpoint dotted line) were really small! The pages he worked on during middle school were quite a bit larger and had much more space for writing. However, I do think that this was a change we’d eventually have made in the fall anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing; just something new for us.
I haven’t really seen a lot of handwriting/penmanship books for high school students. However, I had already planned for Jackson to continue to work on this subject, even if it was solely from using copywork pages. I really do believe that handwriting practice accomplishes important work in students’ brains. Plus, even if our culture continues to become more tech-focused and most people communicate electronically, there is still importance and blessing that can be communicated via the handwritten word. Don’t you still love getting a handwritten note from a friend or family member?
Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book offers homeschoolers an uplifting and quality way to practice their handwriting as they are being exposed to beautiful words. Wouldn’t this also be a fantastic adjunct to an American history study? I can recommend this curriculum for any mother who’s seeking a handwriting program for her high school homeschool students. It’s a concise and lovely way for students to work on their penmanship!
You can visit Laurelwood Books at these social media spots:
Their website, Laurelwood Books
Or via email, at email@example.com