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    Copy Work 101

    March 14, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I don’t write about our homeschooling very often. Much of this stems from the fact that we are, in the scheme of things, quite new at this. I love what we are doing, but I think I am in the stage of life where I have a lot more to learn than I have advice to dispense.

    However, when something is really working for me, I like to make it known in hopes that it might help someone else.

    Almost a year ago, I posted about my Great Penmanship Triumph. I had found a {free} handwriting worksheet generator online, and it was working great for us. It was true then, but circumstances change, and there was still a lot I didn’t know about writing at that time.

    The major flaw, as I see it, in the particular generator that I had linked to, was that the font size didn’t shrink enough. Think back to kindergarten and the giant rules on the manuscript paper you used. Now, think about college rules. It is apparent that, eventually, we all learn to write in a smaller size.

    Moreover, in observing my son I noticed that, for him, writing in the larger size was actually more difficult. I don’t know that this is true of all children, but it certainly was of him. The A, for instance, was so tall that he had trouble writing the lines straight enough. A smaller A, however, was no problem.

    And so, a few months ago, I set out to look for a more permanent solution. My hopes were that I could find a font instead of a worksheet generator. This way, I could design worksheets of varying lengths in my word processing program on the computer. There would be no need for Internet access, nor a special handwriting software program.

    Before I tell you my criteria, I think I will share the long-term goal. Goals are important, because they actually help you define criteria. For instance, one of the goals we have for our son is that, one day when he is {much} older he will have a reading journal. In this journal, he can record quotes from books, along with his own analysis of what he has read. I believe that this will help him maintain a lifestyle of learning when he is grown.

    Now, this is only one of many goals. Obviously, I expect him to learn to write clearly, using proper punctuation and grammar. It is my belief that much of this can be picked up through the act of copy work {by which I mean copying something down exactly as it is written}. I expect him to be able to write for longer periods of time. This means that he needs to work up from one short worksheet to several pages covering, perhaps, several short paragraphs of material.

    There is actually a lot available in the world of fonts, and so now I will share my criteria before I tell you what we ended up buying:

    1. Varying sizes. I wanted this font to get big enough to use for my beginner students, but small enough for a student, like E., who is transitioning.
    2. I wanted this font to have options to print with rules, or without. I wanted to be able to print a blank ruled line underneath the line printed with words.
    3. My little students start out by tracing, so I wanted the option to print the letters as dashed or dotted, still also having rules.
    4. Ideally, this font would also have a cursive option so that we could use the program well into the later primary and even elementary years if necessary.
    5. I wanted the individual letters of the font to look as close to how we were already learning to form the letters as possible. No need for confusion because I taught him the q had a curve or angle at the bottom and a new font we bought just drew it straight down!
    6. I wanted to be able to print the font without rules for a big student. Maybe type a short paragraph at the top and then blank rules at the bottom for copying, was my thought.
    7. Not too expensive. Even though this will be serving many students over many years, I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for it.

    In short, I wanted a font that was incredibly flexible and perfect for the job. And I wasn’t sure there was one out there.

    But there was.

    I have been using it for two weeks. I have already noticed marked improvement in E.’s writing. He gets a worksheet daily. They are long, printed on legal rather than letter paper. Sometimes, they are two-sided, especially if it is a poem. He mainly copies excerpts from books we’ve been reading for school. Oh! He also copies his weekly memory verses each Monday.

    This font is fabulous. It has so many print and style options that I don’t know where to begin in singing its praises. It meets all my criteria, including the cursive option. There is an added benefit in that there is something for cursive called LinkLetter. The font actually teaches the computer the correct way to link the letters so that the worksheet will print out exactly the way we teach real handwriting. This means that the letter “o” connects differently to an “e” than an “a” and so on.

    So…what did I buy?

    I bought a font from Education Fontware, Inc. They had many different fonts available. I scrolled through all of them until I found one where both the print and the cursive that went with it were the most like what I envisioned my children learning to imitate. I am sure that this will vary by family, which is why it is so nice that they have such a huge selection.

    I am very picky about handwriting, and some of this is because writing has been one of my son’s more difficult skills to learn. So I really looked at those letters. I wanted capitals that weren’t too narrow or too wide. I made sure the letters were formed the way I had already taught him to write them. I made sure the numbers were formed the way I had already taught him to write them. I made sure the cursive wasn’t too flowery.

    I picked Frank Schaffer-style.

    By the way, they also have a great font called Handwriting without Tears-style. I have read many praises for this font from parents of left-handed children. If you have a lefty, you might want to consider this font, even though it looks a bit strange to a righty. The fact that the cursive is straight up-and-down makes all the difference to a lefty.

    And that’s that. I am sure you now know more about our handwriting adventures than you ever, ever wanted to know.

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  • Reply Victoria August 20, 2018 at 4:58 am

    Thank you so much for this. I really need this in my life!

  • Reply Heidi June 4, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Thank you for the font resource! Are you still glad you did this? I think I’m going to buy this tomorrow!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 5, 2018 at 8:58 am

      I really am glad! It’s one of those tools that I didn’t appreciate at first, but that has served me well for a whole decade! I still have a couple children who need a bit of help, so I type up models for them regularly. I used the font most weeks this year still! 🙂

      • Reply heidi June 5, 2018 at 10:38 am

        Thanks for getting back to me!

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