D’Nealian vs. Zaner-Bloser

zaner bloser

D’Nealian vs. Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Styles

Today I’m going to be sharing some thoughts on two popular types of handwriting, D’Nealian and Zaner-Bloser. I have included images below of both types of handwriting.
D’Nealian Above
Zaner-Bloser Above

As you can see above, D’Nealian has continuous strokes with curved and slanted lines and Zaner-Bloser consists of straight lines and circles. Here are my thoughts on handwriting with young children:

  • The letters we see in books are written in the “stick and ball” style.
  • Young children are still developing their fine motor skills making it difficult to write continuous curved and slanted lines.
  • The muscles in the eyes of young children are still developing and they have great difficulty distinguishing the “hooks and tails” on many of the D’Nealian letters; for example, the difference between lowercase j and lowercase i as well as the difference between the K and the uppercase R.
  • If young children are taught to write D’Nealian but asked to recognize Zaner-Bloser when they are tested it can lead to confusion and lower test scores.
  • Many districts use D’Nealian in grades K and up so they make their Pre-K students learn it too because those making the decisions are not trained in early childhood.
  • Many argue that D’Nealian helps students adjust more easily to cursive writing that is taught in later grades, but I take great issue with this line of thinking. Instead, we need to focus on developing student’s fine motor skills so their muscles will develop and grow strong and they will be more ready and able to write in cursive when it is time.

What method of handwriting do you use in your program and why?

Photo Credit: Jan Brett

About Vanessa Levin

Vanessa is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping kids and teachers through her professional development sessions. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.

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