My Cursive

What’s the Best Order to Teach Cursive Letters?

Teacher in classroom in front of a chalkboard teaching cursive

There are a couple of ways to help students form letters in cursive. While we hesitate to say there’s a best order to teach cursive letters, the most popular method is effective.

The best order to introduce cursive letters is by grouping them into similar shapes, sometimes called “Letter Families”. (This order is especially beneficial for those teaching in the classroom. We explain more in the benefits section, below.)

Note these groupings, or families, usually refer to lowercase letters.

For instance, drawing an “a” begins with the exact same motion as beginning the letters c, d, g, o, and q. In fact, letter families are as good a place to start as any.

Ordering Letters Families, Groupings, or Drawing Shapes

wave cursive letter family

In our Teacher’s Curriculum, we call these letter groupings four different names:

  • “Wave Letters” since the motion is like drawing a small 2d wave.
  • “Loop Letters” which are letters that begin with a big looping motion
  • “Castle Letters” are the lowercase letters that come up to a sharp point, before continuing the rest of the letter shape.
  • “Hump Letters” which are the letters that mound (such as “m” and “n”)

Here are the Groupings We Suggest as the Order to Teach Cursive Letters

  • Begin with the Wave Letter Family: a, c, d, g, o, q
  • Next, Move to the Loop Letters: b, e, f, h, k, l
  • Thirdly, Teach the Hump Letters: m, n, v, w, x, y, z
  • Lastly, Instruct Students How to Write Castle Letters: i, j, p, r, s, t, u

Benefits or Ordering Letters by Shape

There are a few reasons why this teaching order is valuable:

  • Speeds up both teaching and successful learning: Teaching a group of five to six letters (with similar shapes) is faster to teach and learn than going letter-by-letter.
  • Builds confidence in students. If a learner gets letter “a” right off, but struggles with “b” it slows things down and may dishearten a student. But learning a shape, which is applied to a group of letters build confidence (once the shape drawing skill is attained).
  • Makes for clear-cut lesson plans. Either today, or this week, we’ll learn the “Wave Letters”

A Quick Word on Teaching Letters from a to z

Usually, students begin learning cursive between 2nd and 3rd grade. Ask most at that age to recite the alphabet, and they’re likely to break out in the song.

Key point: There’s potential value in teaching cursive in the same order as students learned their letters, from a to z. While the suggested order is what we recommend, we would never say you’re wrong for using the age-old order of letters!

Additional note: We do understand the controversy with teaching cursive, we’ve even expounded on it here.

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