Preferred Style:

Mobile: No images
Low Quality (Default): Small Images
High Quality: Large images, shadows, colors. Do not attempt on dial-up.

If you have a recommendation for a new color scheme, please tell us about it via the Contact Us page.

SmithHand Handwriting

by Bruce Smith, Ph. D.

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: SmithHand Manuscript Method kit (book, two practice pads) $18.95. SmithHand Cursive Method kit (book, two practice pads, pen) $16.95. Available from the SmithHand web site.

Bruce Smith, Ph. D. came up with the idea for SmithHand while he was doing some research and discovered the popular method of handwriting in the 1800s, Spencerian penmanship. Using some of the principles of Spencerian, he has developed an attractive cursive that can be written quickly. The letters are rather plain without lots of loops and fanfare of Spencerian, but the goal with Dr. Smith's program is legible handwriting at a rapid speed. Dr. Smith suggests that if you wait until the child is genuinely ready for cursive, you will only have to teach it one time.

The cursive program consists of two 100-page pads of SmithHand lined paper, a pen (not reviewed), and a workbook that includes a discussion of student readiness, instructions for the parent, and ten lessons. Each lesson introduces several skills and the student is expected to achieve mastery on a skill before moving on to the next. Basic strokes are covered first.

Lowercase letters are introduced in families similar to the way they are introduced in Spencerian. One lesson is devoted to numbers and "formal" uppercase letters and another lesson is devoted to "informal" (manuscript) capitals. A grading page is in the back of the workbook for those parents who would like to use it. The workbook is reproducible for family use, but the author asks that the books are not re-sold or reproduced outside of the family.

The pad has lines of the recommended size and helps the student to achieve the correct slant of the letters.

A King James Version Cursive Writing Exercises pamphlet is available as a supplement. It contains thirteen Bible verses written in SmithHand cursive for the student to model.

At the request of homeschooling parents, Dr. Smith wrote an additional program to teach manuscript. The workbook includes a discussion of readiness, instructions for the parent, fifteen lessons, and a grading chart. The manuscript letters are slanted, but they do not have loops or connectors. Basic strokes are introduced, followed by lower case letters, numbers, and capitals.

Wall card sets are available for both manuscript and cursive and all parts of the program are available individually or as the set mentioned above.

Recommendation: SmithHand is a no-fluff, fundamental approach to handwriting at a very reasonable price. In fact, it is a bargain given that you only need teach it once. Because there is not a set lesson per day/week, you can do "short lessons" tailored to your child with a minimum of parent preparation. SmithHand cursive is an excellent primer for those wanting to move on to Spencerian penmanship after mastering cursive. resources related to this review:

Interview with Bruce Smith, Ph.D. on developing elegant handwriting
Review of Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children
Review of Handwriting Without Tears
Review of Cursive First
Review of Something Worthwhile Handwriting Exercises
Review of Copy Book by Leigh Lowe
Review of Educational Fontware
Interview with Michael Sull, master penman
Interview with Dave Thompson, president of Educational Fontware

Find more helpful reviews on's Review Page Index!

Reviews represent the opinions of the authors rather than the views of