When I first began homeschooling, an occupational therapist, Nancy Kashman, gave me a copy of Handwriting without Tears, which turned out to be a great handwriting program for Pamela. Jan Olsen, also an occupational therapist and handwriting specialist, developed this style to allow children with fine motor delays to write with simpler letters and strokes. We were discussing this "new" handwriting program in our day, when a listmate recalled to our mind that Charlotte had discussed a "new" handwriting program in her day:
A 'New Handwriting.'--Some years ago I heard of a lady who was elaborating, by means of the study of old Italian and other manuscripts, a 'system of beautiful handwriting' which could be taught to children. I waited patiently, though not without some urgency, for the production of this new kind of 'copy-book.' The need for such an effort was very great, for the distinctly commonplace writing taught from existing copy-books, however painstaking and legible, cannot but have a rather vulgarising effect both on the writer and the reader of such manuscript. At last the lady, Mrs Robert Bridges, has succeeded in her tedious and difficult undertaking, and this book for teachers will enable them to teach their pupils a style of writing which is pleasant to acquire because it is beautiful to behold. It is surprising how quickly young children, even those already confirmed in 'ugly' writing, take to this 'new handwriting.'" (pages 235-236 of Volume 1)The parallels between a "new" handwriting program in our day to that of Charlotte's day are just amazing:
* Both have vertical lines.
* Both teach letters in an order based upon the strokes needed.
* Both start with what they considered to be the simplest strokes first.
* Both reduced the number of ornamental flourishes a letter had in comparison to other styles of the day.
Moreover, on pages 233 through 235 of Volume 1, Charlotte herself gave tips for teaching handwriting very similar to those used by Jan Olsen in her program, backed by modern research!
* "Let the writing lesson be short; it should not last more than five or ten minutes."
* "First, let him print the simplest of the capital letters with single curves and straight lines."
* "When he can make the capitals and large letters, with some firmness and decision, he might go on to the smaller letters––'printed' as in the type we call 'italics,' only upright,––as simple as possible, and large."
* "By-and-by copies, three or four of the letters they have learned grouped into a word––'man,' 'aunt'."
* "At this stage the chalk and blackboard are better than pen and paper."
* "Set good copies before him, and see that he imitates his model dutifully."
* "Do not hurry the child into 'small hand'; it is unnecessary that he should labour much over what is called 'large hand,' but 'text-hand,' the medium size, should be continued until he makes the letters with ease."
Compare Charlotte's advice to what Jan Olsen describes as advantages to her program and you will conclude what wonderful powers of observation Charlotte had: workbook design, teaching strategies, teaching method, time management, and research.