Teaching D'Nealian or Modern Handwriting

When I first started homeschooling, like most moms, I researched everything. All the different methods and curriculums for every part of learning. For handwriting (if you didn’t know) there are a ton of different styles of handwriting and a ton of different ways to teach handwriting. Ultimately, I chose to go with the D’Nealian style of handwriting, also known as Modern Style.


D’Nealian is written at a slight slant in both manuscript printing and cursive. I personally am attracted the slanted look. Here are my pros & cons of this style.

The pros of this style:

The transition from manuscript to cursive is easier.

There are fewer shape changes between manuscript and cursive compared to other styles of handwriting.

It looks prettier (IMO).

The cons:

D’Nealian is uncommon. It’s harder to find workbooks or practice sheets in this style and children are more exposed to the traditional straight up and down style. 

Some children have a harder time learning the slants compared to learning straight lines.

Homeschool Teaching handwriting

When it comes to handwriting, admittedly, I can be pretty strict.

I like Charlotte Mason’s logic on how to teach children handwriting and the importance of properly forming letters and not allowing bad habits to form.

For actual letter formation, I will not move on to the next letter until I feel they are doing the very best of their ability. Because we had a lot of long gaps in handwriting last year it wasn’t until recently that Genevieve has fully finished learning how to properly form all the letters. I plan on starting my other kids a little sooner on their letter formation to hopefully not prolong the process.

The handwriting curriculum I use is Delightful Handwriting from Simply Charlotte Mason. It’s wonderful! I have no complaints and a major plus is it comes in two options, print or pdf.

delightful handwriting D'nealian

Tips I have for teaching handwriting are:

  • Be patient. It is totally normal for them to write the perfect letter one day and the next day it’s like they have never even seen that letter in their life. Frustrating, yes, but it’s fine and will pass.
  • Be consistent. Learn from my mistakes and don’t go a really long time between handwriting lessons.
  • Practice sensory style. It’s super helpful (and fun) to start practicing letter formation using rice or sand on a sheet pan. My kids also really enjoy practicing on a chalkboard or dry erase board. Then once they feel ready I will give them a crayon the first couple tries on paper before going to straight pencil and paper.
  • Make sure they have good posture and proper pencil grip. I know this may be a duh! comment but it does really help. Also not letting them get in the habit of slouching or laziness.
  • Have the kids evaluate their work. Ask them questions like “So how do you think you’re doing?” “Which letter looks the best?” “Which one looks the worst and why?”.
  • Praise. I know another duh! comment but I myself will sometimes forget to compliment on the hard work or nice job they do.

As of right now, Beaver is currently writing in cursive, Raccoon is doing manuscript, and Hedgehog just started her letter formation. Here are some examples of my children’s handwriting.

I will start providing copywork sheets in D’Nealian/ Modern style handwriting soon. All handwriting worksheets will be available in the Subscriber Hollow page. If you are not subscribed you can click think button below so you can get access and receive updates when new handwriting worksheets are available.


How do you teach your children handwriting, got any cool tips? Do you use a unique style/ method or are you more relaxed/ go with the flow type of mama? Comment below and if you find this post helpful in any way please share!