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What is SmithHand?

SmithHand is a new method for teaching handwriting.

Because SmithHand is a true cursive hand instead of a copy hand (like other methods) it's achievable as taught and therefore needs to be taught only once. It can be written with speed yet retains its legibility. It is written with the natural motion of the hand and uses the stroke over which the writer has the best fine motor control. It results in flowing, elegant, practical handwriting.

SmithHand writing.. . We call it the "phonics" of penmanship

Explore our site to learn more about the SmithHand Writing Method.

 

Origins of SmithHand Writing Methods

A while back, I spent a year in a 4th grade classroom with other kids learning the finer points of cursive handwriting using the Palmer Method for public schools. It was a challenge trying to form the large, awkward letters, but I did my best to try to master the method. We used lined paper worksheets, laboriously copying the example our teacher put on the board, and then used copy books and theme tablets to write sentences and paragraphs from the exercises assigned.

My name begins with B, so we soon came to a letter I would use often. The upper case B was plain ugly, always reminding me of  the profile of Hitchcock’s face created for Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television. The lower case b was just as bad, reminding me of a decrepit kangaroo with a saggy pouch. Both were difficult to make, but because we were told to make them that way, I tried. Then there were letters like D, H, Z, and that greatest of all letter disasters, Q. In all the books and all the efforts I made, everyone assumed it was a 2. It was impossible to write anything with speed, and for years when I tried to use the cursive hand the look of a 4th grader’s writing was the best I could do. Although I would never have let it show at school, there were many quiet moments after school when I shed some tears over the effect it was having on my self-respect. I assumed something was wrong with me because no effort of mine

At the time, I noticed that a classmate rival, the cerebral Margaret, didn’t bother to form her letters the way the lessons showed. She invented her own handwriting form that year while we boys tried to do it “right.” I found out later that other girls wrote the way she did, and I failed to note the irony that they tended to get better grades for cursive handwriting than I ever did. Adding to the mystery was the fact that she had a batting stance like Musial, and was usually chosen fourth or fifth for our softball teams, right after me. This made no sense to me, but I chalked it up to another of life’s mysteries.

My saintly fifth-grade teacher usually did not require me to write much in cursive, so I reverted to my adapted stick-and-ball printing which, if only barely legible, was at least much faster than cursive. All that year, and for the next 30 years that followed, my rapid printing and much abbreviation carried me through high school, college, and grad school. At least I could decipher it, mostly.

As an undergrad history major, I was already a veteran antique hunter, because antique shops are little haphazard museums of historic artifacts. In county courthouses I discovered the beautiful, flowing Spencerian handwriting taught by the Spencer brothers in the 19th century. With an interest in books, I began to discover that this handwriting had been taught in public schools until about 1900, when it was replaced by the Palmer Method of Business Writing. I bought a copy of the Spencerian method book of 1874, and sat down with calligraphy pens to learn it. It was surprisingly easy, and even I could make beautiful letters, words, and paragraphs if I went slowly enough, something I had never been able to do with Palmer’s plan of misery. For fun I used Spencerian as calligraphy, but for classroom work it was always scratch printing.

There my skills paused until an opportunity came along in 1997 to take some time off and think about what to do next. I decided that I might make an attempt to create an alternative handwriting method, so I began work on an alphabet. It took me two solid weeks to come up with an alphabet that could be written smoothly but still be legible by anyone. Then I created a method to teach it using the four basic strokes first, then the letters in difficulty order, starting with i. I had it printed up and took it to a small home school curriculum show near Omaha. I decided to call it SmithHand, like shorthand for faster, truly cursive writing. To my surprise, homeschool parents bought it eagerly, and soon reported that it worked so well that they wanted it for their other children, and sometimes for themselves. They began to ask me about manuscript lessons, and in that way I created SmithHand manuscript. Which also began to sell well for younger children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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