In some schools, teachers are told which form to teach (D’Nealian and Zane-Bloser are the most common current styles) with older teachers remembering and knowing the Palmer method.
If no one is mandating which style you teach, then which style should you choose? The short answer is, it doesn’t matter. Choose whichever style you like personally.
If you are unfamiliar with different cursive styles, here is a great page which shows many different styles, and lists them by name (most of which have only slight differences).
Personally, I have a definite preference for either Zaner-Bloser or Palmer over D’Nealian. Most teachers either love or hate D’Nealian. (I hate it.) The main difference is less in in the final result than in the teaching method. But whichever method you choose, if you teach it well, the result will be just fine. All slanted styles are readable and acceptable. (Vertical styles are not acceptable in America, for reasons I will go into in a later post.)
If you have school materials and desk tapes in a given style, stick to the style (because if you teach it differently from a wall chart or desk tape it will confuse the students). If you have no materials, it really doesn’t matter even if you slightly mix styles. If you don’t like one particular letter in a style (for example, I don’t like the capital W’s with rounded bottoms), then substitute a different style for that letter in your own cursive worksheets. Choose the letter styles you like, and practice them until you feel you can make them really well (including on the chalk board or white board while writing in front of students).
D’Nealian adds tails at the end of each letter which connect to the following. Traditional cursive methods instead add a lead-in stroke to each letter, which connects from the previous letter.
The problems I’ve encountered with D’Nealian are with correct letter formation. Because students being taught in manuscript (the D’Nealian slanted printing style) usually don’t get the slant right (because their teachers haven’t insisted they turn their books and papers since Kindergarten), what usually happens is that the students write vertically with big tails (which is all wrong). Thus, all the small l’s with tails look like capital L’s right in the middle of words. This is only one of the many problems I’ve found with D’Nealian.
It’s much easier (in my opinion) to get the correct slant by learning other traditional methods of cursive. In any case, teaching correct slant and turning of the paper will be dealt with in a subsequent post.
The next post will deal with writing the cursive masters.