I am a cursive first kind of girl. I do realize that many people aren't even learning cursive anymore but learning cursive first has lots of benefits. I like that the letters start and end in the same place - every time. Plus, you really can't confuse b and d when you write them in cursive. My son's cursive is looking great. People are always surprised that he writes it. Truly it isn't a big accomplishment - it is easier to learn than print if you start with it. The problem is trying to switch kids midstream - that's what makes it difficult. Handwriting is important to us because my husband's handwriting is pretty much illegible.
I have started "writing" lessons with my 4 yo - at his request. Although I own the cursive first book, I use Peterson's Handwriting techniques. I do like cursive first's use of the clock face (loop around to 2 o' clock and then trace back) so I use that with my sons. Peterson has online workbooks (print and cursive) that show you the premise behind their program. For both print and cursive the basic concept is to break down the letters into repetitive moves and then link them together to make letters. The four basic moves in cursive are sharp top, loop top, round top and roll top. I then teach a "bottom loop". I also teach the r as a slightly pointed roll top - instead of a roof top- like they do it. Really I just use their rhythm leader sheet (print and cursive) and teach it from there.
The writing is functional but not pretty. I also don't believe in teaching kids through tracing pages - so we do other things to practice. Montessori uses sandpaper letters and my older son used those when he was this age. Right now we don't have any letters available (although you can make your own). To start off I just wrote the form on our white board with a dry erase marker and named it - sharp top. Then I had my son erase it using the pointer finger on his right hand while saying the form. He is four so he is still working on small motor skills. Soon I think we will move to the salt tray where he can make his own letters and erase easily. I am not in a hurry but he feels like he is learning something important and I feel like he is learning the correct form from the beginning. Even my 7 yo wants to get in on the act and draw letter parts for him to erase. The 2 yo thinks erasing is VERY fun.
At some point we will start typing but I want my sons to feel like they can write easily and legibly. I am also pleased because all of the programs we use have copywork in cursive for the younger age group. So he has had lots of practice. A little bit at a time really does work!
Also, Lulu has a 14% off sale going on now. If you are interested in Learning Language through Literature or Write Through History now might be a good time to get them. I have also been reading a lot about TPR (total physical response) and TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) or CI (comprehensible input) as methods for second language acquisition. Lulu also sells I Speak Latin by Andrew Campbell (Latin Centered Curriculum) which uses TPR methods to teach the language. There is usually a 20% off sale around May - if you can wait until then.