Iris Hatfield, founder of New American Cursive Penmanship Program, is the only major cursive handwriting proponent to have come from a handwriting analysis business background. Ms. Hatfield spent over 40 years working as a professional graphologist for a variety of companies, who hired her to analyze the handwriting of prospective employees, based on their handwriting sample and job applications.
Over that time, she analyzed over 50,000 handwriting samples for businesses. After analyzing that many, she saw a significant decline in the ability of job applicants to write legibly. These applicants, although bright, were having a difficult time filling out the applications. Some of them had writing equal to second-graders — they could not fluidly communicate with the written word.
Because Iris is an expert in the penmanship area, many homeschooling parents as well as parents of private school children, kept asking her to recommend a good penmanship program to use in teaching their students. She saw the need for such a curriculum before most people realized the schools were not teaching handwriting anymore.
Ms. Hatfield soon realized that something had to be done to remedy this potentially disastrous situation. At first, she hoped “someone” who was in the cursive handwriting field would have a system that would be easy to use but effective. After studying and researching cursive programs available, Iris could not find one that completely met the criteria of an easy-to-teach, easy-to-learn, graphologically sound, penmanship program that achieved the end result of legible, attractive, fluid handwriting. After this research and study, she finally realized that the “someone” to develop such a curriculum was Iris Hatfield! She then set out to develop what is now New American Cursive (NAC).
She gathered handwriting experts and educators from around the country and developed her program. She took out extra strokes and loops and simplified the alphabet to make it easy enough for even a 1st-grader to write a legible cursive. Iris and her team wanted a simple, but legible classic alphabet and the NAC is a clean and simple foundational alphabet that today’s student can build on. It is faster than the average student by 2nd grade, their students are writing an average 37% faster than non-NAC writers.
Iris offers a list of tips for left-handers, as well. The NAC book is left-handed friendly, bound at the top. Two of the NAC students won the World Handwriting Contest, which Americans typically do not win. The first winner was Grazia Ferraro in 2011, who was a first-grade left-hander. The other winner was Braxton Hartsine, also a first-grader, in 2013.
A Teaching Guide is included in the NAC primary workbooks, and they offer an online training program for parents and teachers, but it is not essential to teaching the program. Iris Hatfield states, “Every handwriting tells a story. Do you want your student to be apologizing all of their lives for their handwriting? Or do you want them to have a legible, fluid handwriting that will serve them well for the rest of their lives?” For homeschoolers, the answer is a simple, solid affirmative.