When kids are learning to write cursive letters, they need to connect cursive lines together appropriately right from the start. Teaching correct connectors between letters is essential for cursive accuracy and legibility.
Connecting Cursive Lines
Connecting cursive lines letters is especially important with some of the letters that have a tow rope connector between the letters. Cursive b is one of these letters.
Cursive v and cursive o are other tow rope letters, meaning that the connecting lines between these letters and the letter next to them is at the middle line and changes the motor plan to the letter following the tow rope letter.
This resource on teaching cursive b has more information on this difference in motor planning in the letter formation.
If cursive letters don’t connect properly, one letter can look like different letter. Connecting the letters together requires practice and instruction. The more a child succeeds in proper cursive connectors, the more legible handwriting will be.
If the letters don’t connect correctly and it can be hard to read handwriting. This is especially true as we get older and practice the incorrect forms. Your hand will become accustomed to producing the incorrect forms.
Tip: Use these strategies to teach cursive letters with a tow rope connection.
When forming specific letters, it can be easy to merge letters or for a cursive writer to form commonly connected letters in an alternative manner. You may find this is true when you write a letter e and e connected together. One cursive writer may make this letter combination completely different than another person who connects letters in a different way.
The motor plan that you have in your mind for forming two letters together may remain the same with practice. Letter speed and rhythm has a lot to do with unique formations and connections of cursive letters.
Think about an adult hand writing or your own handwriting. The cursive letters are probably fluid and not exact as you might have learned in a cursive handwriting guide book or in second grade cursive writing instruction. This is because you have develop your own style of cursive. This has happened over time and with practice.
Cursive Line COnnecting Exercises
Cursive lines can be practiced with specific activities to support the development of this skill.
Tips for Fluid Cursive Lines between letters
Try to incorporate different letter directions and sizes of joining strokes when working on the flow of connections.
Backward Chaining in Teaching Cursive Letter Connectors
Backward chain letter formation- Backward chaining is a common strategy for tasks such as teaching kids to tie their own shoes or to fasten zippers. It can be used for learning cursive handwriting connectors, too!
With backward chaining in cursive writing, it’s important that this strategy is only used with letters that are very well established. Try this tool only when a child is very fluent with cursive letter b, for example. Then: students can start out with a bold-typed cursive b.
They can write in a black magic marker or trace over a worksheet. Students can use a highlighter marker to trace over just the connector of the b. They can do this several times across a sheet of paper, tracing over only the connector line of the b as it travels to the next letter. Students can even trace that connector over to connect to other letters such as cursive e, cursive a, cursive i, etc.
Then, ask students to complete the whole letter b, connecting it to the same letters that were practiced above.
Practice backward chaining with cursive letters by forming big motions of the cursive letters. For example, don’t as students to start at mid loop of the b.
Direction change in cursive letter connections
These letters require precision and pencil control for legibility. Cursive writers need to have a relaxed style otherwise the retrace required in these letters can make the retrace wide.
Look at your own cursive handwriting. You may notice that some letters are not formed or connect exactly as you were taught in grade school. Adaptations to cursive result in personal cursive writing styles and can be completely legible.
It’s important for kids to learn to correctly re-trace and connect letters when they are just learning. As they grow and develop their own personal writing style lifting the pencil for these letters is fine.
Cursive letter s has re-trace as well as directional changes that use different pencil control and motor plans.
Looking for more ways to work on cursive letter connectors? Try any of these creative cursive writing strategies or these handwriting activities.
Some top handwriting programs for addressing skills like letter formation and cursive connectors:
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Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.