Cursive handwriting should be a functional, legible, flowing transition from print. Cursive writing styles differ and some need re-learning each letter and its upper case letter. For this reason, some parents chose italics which merely joins the letters already learnt in print.
Most handwriting programs offer exercises with practices in the slant, or the joining stroke, and then teach the same shaped letters in groups. This reinforces the techniques needed to learn the new style.
When a child is mature enough to learn cursive, about 9 to 10-years-old, and has mastered printing and can write at a reasonable speed, then he/she should start learning cursive.
I have found that my children are reluctant to follow the published handwriting programs, but have willingly traced over their laminated charts with a whiteboard marker. With daily repetition, they quickly learn most letters and use their charts on a stand for reference while they do their copywork, dictations or narrations in pencil. And with this system, I have found that they learn the style quickly, and write with ease and confidence.
My eldest daughter wrote perfectly – I mean it – flawlessly! She loved doing beautiful cursive writing! I have never, in all the 10 years of my professional teaching experience, ever seen handwriting like hers! BUT, it came at a cost – speed. She needed much more time to complete her written assignments. As she has matured and her workload has increased, she has needed to lower her standard of perfection, speed up and yet still write legibly. She still can write beautifully, but this is for cards or special notes.
Conversely, my 10-year-old needs to slow down, try perfect her writing and try keep the slant and size of each letter consistent. She needs encouragement to slowly write her copywork or dictations.
If your handwriting program is causing unhappiness and reluctance, try these charts. You can download my Handwriting Cursive chart.