Free Cursive Program

If you have children who struggle with their handwriting, then this free cursive program from the McGuffey readers is for you.

I think we’ve had just about every type of child among our fifteen. We have had energetic types, and quiet thoughtful types. Some have been great at drawing, others prefer sports. While some of our girls love to write, our daughter Patience prefers to talk.

So, we let her talk all about everything she learns, but we still need her to write things down because, you know, that’s a good thing, right?

Because she has trouble making her hands cooperate with her brain, we tried all sorts of cursive programs, including Spencerian (based on old-fashioned copperplate) and some modern ones, but she continually struggled.

Finally, I took out my handy-dandy home-made McGuffey’s script pages I had created from the revised readers a few years back, and it CLICKED!

All-of-a-sudden (or at least after about 10 pages of practice) she could write legibly and neatly—hallelujah!

I believe it has helped her so much because it is simple, straight-forward and does not require any slant.

I had plans way back to share this free cursive program with everyone, but I thought I should try and get the pages perfect—you know, with all sorts of software editing and the like. But I just have not found the time to get them perfect-looking, so I put the project aside.

When I realized how much this program has blessed Patience, I decided it was time to put it out there to bless others (besides, I have a brand new, hands-free scanner that works amazingly, so it must be God!).

So, here it is (warts and all). You are perfectly welcome to download, print, and use these pages as you see fit with your child(ren). Just start at the beginning and proceed as slowly or as quickly as you wish.

Download the free pages here.

Also, I think it would be a good idea to republish a post I wrote about handwriting a little time ago. Hope it gives you some motivation!

Here it is:

Researchers are confirming what educators have known since the dawn of time; handwritten work increases retention, comprehension, and higher brain function.

On some levels this sounds counter-intuitive, even “archaic,” in an age where we are surrounded by digital devices. Many are arguing children need to have more keyboarding skills and less handwriting skills in order to navigate in a technology-rich society. However, numerous studies are being produced which suggest otherwise.

It all goes back to Common Core:

According to the CCSS [Common Core State Standards], handwriting instruction is no longer mandatory when students progress
beyond Grade 1. After that time, states can choose to teach manuscript handwriting, cursive handwriting,
or a combination of both by invoking the right to augment the standards with an additional 15% of content
that they deem appropriate.

So, basically, children in most public schools are not even receiving handwriting instruction past the ball-and-stick scribblings of first grade. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that this lack of handwriting competency is working to decrease working literacy.

In a recent study entitled “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard,” researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer found that students who take notes by hand perform better on conceptual questions than students who take notes on laptops.  They concluded that students who type their notes tend to transcribe the lecture and to process the lecture only on a shallow level.  Student who take notes by hand actually digest the content and reframe it in their own words—a process that increases both understanding and recall.


And further:

Research findings suggest that self-generated
action, in the form of handwriting, is a crucial component in setting up brain systems for reading
According to Dr. Karin Harman James, associate professor of psychological and brain
sciences at Indiana University, handwriting appears to contribute to reading fluency by activating
visual perception of letters and improving children’s accuracy and speed for recognizing letters.6

(Handwriting in the 21st Century)

Still further (from same source as above):

Without consistent exposure to handwriting, research indicates that students can
experience difficulty in certain processes required for success in reading and writing, including
• retrieving letters from memory.
• reproducing letters on paper.
• spelling accurately.
• extracting meaning from text or lecture.
• interpreting the context of words and phrases.

There is also ample evidence that simple “printing” does not go far enough. In order to receive the greatest benefit a child needs to learn cursive. Here are some reasons why:

  • Fine motor skills. In cursive writing, the strokes used are continually changing according to the word being written. These movements are more demanding and cause the child to actually think about what they are writing.
  • Brainpower. Cursive writing causes different parts of the brain to be used in order to complete each letter. Combined with repetition, this increases both cognitive development and function.
  • Treatment for Dyslexia and ADD/ADHD. Did you know there is an actual treatment for dyslexia involving cursive handwriting?Children who have trouble with memory and focus find that writing in cursive helps them to stay on track and keeps their thoughts connected (see this PBS story).

This is more than just interesting information. It is vital to the education of our children.

Even with all of our increasing technology, the literacy rate in America has continually declined for the past 100 years.

According to John Taylor Gatto, draftees during WWI were tested and showed a 98% literacy rate, while draftees for the Viet Nam War only had a 73% literacy. There really is no telling how low our “working” literacy rate is today, but we do know universities are seeing an increase in entrants requiring remedial classes.

About half of first-year college students discover that, despite excellent GPAs and getting into college, they are not ready for continued studies after high school, according to The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Taking college-prep courses, earning high school diplomas, and passing state high-school exit exams — none of it is sufficient to ensure that these students are actually ready for college work.


In all of the education literature from the time of almost complete literacy, there is rarely a mention of the learning woes we complain about today. Could it be we have lost some vital keys to helping children learn? What were the secrets our predecessors knew that we have lost sight of?

The recent research sited above suggests there is a connection between the emphasis on handwritten work and a competent knowledge of the English language. Educators of the past, without any scientific studies or massive educrat-style papers to back them up, knew this intuitively.

To them it was simply common-sense.

Children of the past actually learned to write in cursive before they learned to “print” their words (I was shocked when I first discovered this, but I have read first-hand accounts that confirmed it). This practice kept their minds focused and kept them engaged. They had better retention and knowledge of written material because they were intimately acquainted with it.

It seems this is why a country teacher in a one-room schoolhouse could manage so well. Her students were not trapped into lower-level comprehension and cognitive ordering skills; they could sit and concentrate because they were naturally connecting one thought with another as they copied quality language materials.

This is great news for those of us who homeschool our children.

We are not hampered by Common Core or any of its predecessors. We can connect with our children on the highest levels using the same, simple methods that insured competency a century ago.

And the great thing about it is that it is so very, very inexpensive! (I think this is what scares educrats more than anything). Teaching children well doesn’t require a lot of money. It doesn’t even require a degree in anything. It simply requires an adult who understands a few basic methods and a child who is eager to learn.

And this (finally) brings us to the practical side of this post.

With just a few modifications, you can teach your child to write in cursive with the same method used by the wise teachers of long ago.

Besides being simple enough for a young child, it is also easy for mom, and it’s cheap to boot.  I’ve been using it for years, with wonderful results!

I know, there are probably a hundred programs out there, even free ones that are ready to be printed out, and they are so cute! However, none have stood the test of time quite like this one. There is no slant, and the lines are easier to follow than the modern versions. Even the capitals are simplified and easy to produce.

It also fits in with the rest of our language arts program, which is almost exclusively comprised of vintage learning materials.

(Think about this: Back in the day the McGuffey readers were first being published, copybooks with lines did not exist, and yet children from that time grew up with great penmanship. The above is an actual handwriting example from the year 1893 done in the old way by dipping a pen in ink. Children can do more than we think they can).

Here is an example of one of the pages with script from a revised reader:

Hope this gives you loads of instruction and help–many blessings to you and your children as you write God’s word and make it a part of your thinking!


24 thoughts on “Free Cursive Program”

  1. Wow, I have been waiting for this, thank you Sherry for putting this all together!

    Do you recommend starting this before children learn to print? Have you tried doing cursive first with your kids? I’ve always been curious about this, but I’ve never known anyone to try it.

    Thank you so much, love that you named one of your daughters Patience, it’s beautiful ❤️

    Much love and blessings!

    • You are very welcome. That’s a good question. I have always started with printing, although I understand why this one would be easier to use at first. Thank you, we love our Patience very much. She definitely needed the name, and she is the cherry on top of our beautiful family!

  2. Thank you, Sherry! I am repeatedly blessed by your generosity and servant’s heart attitude. The pages look completely “perfect” to me. I enjoy your simplistic and minimal designs, as well as your beautiful and artistic ones. You will never truly know what a blessing you are to so many mamas. Both of my boys have struggled with cursive and we will be using this resource this year. When I think of you, a quote by Mother Teresa always comes to mind.

    “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”

    • So glad I could create something that would be useful to you, Jill. Your writing is so beautiful, and it is such a blessing whenever I see you have commented. Do you blog somewhere?

      • I was a writer for several years and had my own blog, but I do not currently write anywhere. You are very observant and discerning to pick up on the fact that I share your enthusiasm and appreciation for the power of words, both spoken and written. God bless, Sherry!

  3. I love the McGuffey script! It is so beautiful! I was wondering, have you been able to find any information about what this type of handwriting is called and why it seems to only be found in the revised McGuffey readers? I just want to learn more about it and cannot find anything. I’m interested in the history of handwriting and how and why different styles developed.

    • Interesting question. It is very possible that this script was exclusive to the McG’s. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, and I also study different types of script.

    • I really like the McGuffey script as well. I would love to have a McGuffey script font that I could use to create copywork pages for my children. There are times that I have difficulty with handwriting, but I can type. Has anyone found a font that is at least very similar?

      • The closest, modern penmanship I found is a script developed by Calvert Homeschool. They do not sell it separately and you have to buy their whole language arts package to get the handwriting books.

        Here is the blog where I found it:

        According to this web site,, it looks like the McGuffey script was developed specifically for the McGuffey readers during the time when library hand was being integrated into school curriculum. Library hand was developed by Thomas Edison and Melvil Dewey to form a standard, easy-to-read script for filling out card catalogues for libraries. Though pretty, this vertical script writing style went out of favor when typewriters replaced handwritten card catalogues. Because of the shape of our hands and arms, slanted cursive styles were easier to write quickly and fluidly than the library hand vertical cursive styles. Thus, we went back to slanted cursive and the vertical scripts went out of style and never really came back.

      • Hello from France,
        I also lived in Porugal and the vertical cursive (McGuffey style) is still taught to all children first and only, in Portugal, Spain and France. I must say that I’m partial to the slanted from the Americas.

  4. Thank you for your hard work and diligence. I cannot download the cursive sheets, it just keeps spinning.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you are having difficulty! I just did a test and the file downloaded instantly. Perhaps if you give it a day or two and try it again it will download for you. I hope this helps 🙂

  5. Thank you! I have a child struggling with cursive, and this is perfect! We can go through it as many times as is necessary now, and I love this script. I think I will print one for myself.

  6. Sherry, Im super excited about this handwriting freebie you have put together. I’m wanting to use it for my 4tg grader and 2nd grader, but feel the copy work may be too much for my 2nd grader. I was wondering if you had any other handwriting courses or pages (especially since I will need something on bigger lines for my younger two that will begin school in a few years).

    • I’m so sorry, but I don’t. You could make some yourself using a primary writing pad, and it probably wouldn’t take very much time. You would also be modeling for your children which would encourage their own writing–win/win!

  7. Could anyone give me a step by step method of how to teach this? I need an example.
    Do you:
    Introduce one letter every ___
    They practice it until they master it , then move on to the next?

    • I simply had my daughter complete one line at a time, and that may mean three to five days a week. If needed, we could print a page out and go over ones that were giving some trouble. Of course, what a child can do naturally at the age of 7 will be greatly different at the age of 11, and sometimes we need to practice patience and understanding til they get there.


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