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Calgary calligraphy club teaches handwriting in new work book

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The Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild (BVCG) has produced an extensive work book called Teaching Handwriting to Young Children: A Resource for Teachers and Parents.

It's geared towards children in Kindergarten to Grade 3, but the resource can also help older children and adults learn and improve their printing and handwriting skills.

"Writing helps learning and helps people to be able to think about things and actually form thoughts," said Adrienne Waller, BVCG member and program creator.

"It takes you away from having zero attention span because we watch the internet too much."

Waller has always liked handwriting and is passionate about learning different styles of writing.

She did a lot of research about what would work best to teach young learners today.

"Italic lettering is from the 15th century," she said. "It was something that the Italians created to get rid of the blackletter that the Germans were using, and most of the medieval people were using before the printing press, so this italic font is the only one that you can go from a printed letter to a cursive letter without redoing or relearning the letter form."

Waller's partner in the project was Renate Worthington.

They started working on it in August 2023 and finished in March 2024. 

"I think this has some really fun elements in showing how to teach letters that are easy to do and useful to do, and I think that is maybe missing right now," said Worthington.

"The challenge is how do people that don't know how to do it themselves teach other people how to do it, so picking even a few ideas from this program would be very helpful."

The two also worked on the project with Hetty Roessingh from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.

Thea Paul, BVCG president, says it's a way for guild members to give back to the community.

The entire project was volunteer-driven and is available for free to educators and parents.

"That was critical," she said. "It was on our team and Adrienne to make it copyright-free to get a trade name for it and to set it up so that anybody could use it without having to pay for it."

Paul says printing and writing skills are not a priority in classrooms today, and haven't been for a while, which has resulted in people in their teens and twenties not knowing how to handwrite.

"That's a really big problem, because you get a letter from Grandma, you get a card in the mail, you get something with handwriting on it, and you literally are - it's like a foreign language," she said. "It's like a code that you can't read."

Waller says hundreds of hours went into making the project easy to follow for both teachers and students.

"There's exercises that have them do geometric shapes, which are the basis of all lettering," she said. "And they're connecting the dots, and they're drawing, and they have to be able to go from point A to point B, and have their pencil end up where they want it to end up."

Waller encourages parent to work alongside their children on the project to brush up on their own writing skills that they haven't used in years.

"Parents should be doing this along with their children so their handwriting improves or they can actually learn how to do italic cursive handwriting," she said.

To learn more, you can visit the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild's website

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