Showing posts with label Handwriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Handwriting. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Manual with CD Rom, and Fix-It...Write

With all the handwriting programs out there-how is one to know which to choose from? It isn't easy, in fact-it can be down right daunting. When I first started homeschooling, I found one I really love. It is Italic based and for the most part, my kids have decent handwriting from using it. Notice, I said "most part" because with all things, folks (and that includes children) tend to morph their handwriting into their own style. That little trait tends to lend itself to some nasty looking stuff if someone doesn't rein them in. My eldest son had the most beautiful handwriting until he hit 5th grade and then, well-it turned south. I frankly wonder what happened and how I could have reversed this. My eldest daughter writes well, but sometimes I need spectacles that magnify to read it. My middle child has intertwined printing and handwriting to her own style and so-like mother like daughter-you just never know what you'll get! That leaves my baby, who luckily may be saved from this somewhat neglected issue. He is just in the throws of practicing handwriting, and now that I have the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting program-I can set him on the road to legible handwriting for life.

Now I had never heard of this particular program, so I was very excited to receive this to review. I also requested the Fix-It...Write for the reasons listed above-we need help with our handwriting! The basic set contains a lovely, spiral bound manual with very clear and precise instructions on how to achieve this style of handwriting. Not only does it take me step by step through the process of teaching it, it offers many different ways to practice. The best part is the CD Rom you upload and use to gain teaching tips, steps for the levels and printable worksheets to practice. I love how I can move worksheet choices that fit what we are working on, into the "My Pages". It simplifies the printing process for me and anything that makes things easy-is a welcomed friend in our home.

This style is so beautiful and very easy to read-two extremely important issues when considering a handwriting program. It reminds me of Calligraphy mixed with Italic with a sprinkle of class. What is so brilliant about it is that it is easy to learn! I decided to back the bus up a tad to start my boy on the Intro Level, then I added a splash of the First Level lessons in after he had the basic strokes down. With the BFH, you can skip around a bit betwixt levels [recommended by the author] so your child will not be bored. I love the pictures that contain the basic quick strokes for practice-they capture my son's interest (and mine)and keep it. I am partial to the rooster actually, as he is quite the character. We are thoroughly enjoying the entire process, and will continue to use this until we have achieved our best handwriting.

As for the Fix-It...Write program, well here is something I need for a few of my family members-including myself. I was taught the usual style and frankly never liked it, so I tweaked it to fit me, but now I have a mixed blend of print/Italic and Classic handwriting, which when in a hurry, turns to the dreaded "chicken scratch" most cannot read-including me. The lovable part of the BFH Fix-It is how it is set up to compliment your current style, and offers two lesson sets-one using those who tend to use the Italic style more;, and for those who favor the Conventional way to write. The Fix-It program is designed to take the student (of any age), through at least 2 weeks worth of material. The end result is a lovely blend of style, and clarity that was otherwise lacking.


Because BFH is a print as needed program, you will have some time, and expense using your printer. One money saving solution is to print one practice sheet of whatever it is you want to work on-say, the fluency sheets and the alphabet practice sheets (one for upper and one for lower), then laminate it (not as spency as one would think, if you buy a 50 pack of sheets, they are only 20 cents each-and be sure to put 2 papers per sheet). Then once laminated, use a washable Vis-a-Vis marker on it. That way the student can practice 'til the cows come home, all the while saving trees, and your money. Once they have practiced it enough to be able to write it out nicely, offer up a couple of the pages to do in pencil. Or use lined paper-either way you are not devouring ink, and paper each time a child practices.

My son loves the laminated sheets, not only because the pen flows over it nicely; but because it is an excuse to use his mini-squirt gun (to zap it with water for erasing)...ah, boys! Gotta love em.

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Product Insight

The BFH Manual comes with two different CDs-one for Windows application, and the other for MAC. You load up whichever applies, and go from there. The actual guide itself is non-consumable, so, you can use this one program for all your children. Because you have a CD Rom, you can print as much as needed, for as many students you will educate in your home.

The Fix-It...Write comes ready to pop into a 3-ring binder. You would use one per person, since this is consumable. It comes with the instructions to correct your C.S. [chicken scratch] tendencies, a supply list to complete your mission, and it even contains some practice sheets as well.

The BFH font can be purchased and down loaded onto your computer-that way you can create all sorts of documents, flashcards, extra writing sheets and so forth for your children. I am planning on using it to reinforce reading and seeing the handwriting style as often as possible.

I only have two minor complaints about this particular program. When using the CD, there appears to be no back button, so it takes a bit longer to navigate. That would be a nice addition [I have received word from the author and her computer tecs that they are considering adding that in a future revision] I had to go the long way around to get where I needed to be-but it is minor, so I will survive. Also, the font you download-there seems to be missing components (IE: several punctuation and additional niceties like dashes, the star and others) which make the process of producing additional resources, for the children, difficult. I want to be able to use this font to make copy work sheets, flashcards, type up Bible verses, and so forth-but with those missing pieces-I cannot always achieve the look I want. I am trying to see if I missed something there, but either way-I can still use it for many, many projects.

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Homepage
$65.95 for BFH Manual and CD Roms (encompasses everything you need to teach this)
$17.95 for Fix-It...Write Manual
they also have desk strips available for .25 each
and don't forget-to be able to create your own worksheets, flashcards and whatnot-you'll need the font download ($25)
Beginners HWing- $29.95
without the TE for Beginners-$20.00

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage for more reviews on this and many other wonderful products.

**Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting provided me with the free copy of the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Manual/CD Rom Set, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.