Handwriting Models


Petra Černe Oven



Students learn both print and cursive letters in Grade 2. While the curriculum doesn’t specify any particular handwriting model, the style popularised by Rokus Publishing House’s Na vrtiljaku črk is commonly taught.

The Strokovni svet Republike Slovenije za izobraževanje, or Expert Council of the Republic of Slovenia for General Education, regulates general education up to pre-university level, alongside the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Zavod Republike Slovenije za Šolstvo, or National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (ZRSŠ). It is responsible for preparing curricula and providing teaching instructions. It also approves textbooks for primary and general secondary education based on the curricula, that teachers can choose from.

The education system consists of three levels: primary school (6 to 15–16 years old), which is compulsory; secondary school; and tertiary education, which comprises university, faculty art academy, or professional college. Students are always taught their native language. This can be Slovenian, Hungarian or Italian, depending on the area of their schooling. Most schools in Slovenia are state-run and funded, though some fee-charging private, international and alternative schools, like Waldorf and Montessori, also exist.

The 2011 literacy reform introduced two models for letter acquisition: sequential acquisition of uppercase and lowercase printed letters, and simultaneous acquisition. Teachers have the freedom to choose between the two approaches. The primary school curriculum in Slovenia, which was last published in 2018, focuses on developing reading and writing skills, and while detailed guidance is provided for issues related to literacy and understanding, no official recommendations regarding handwriting models for teaching are included. It does, however, emphasise legibility and aesthetics.

Students learn pre-literacy skills — visual and auditory differentiation, graphomotor skills, orientation of paper, and body and pen posture — before progressing to writing in print and script style letters by the end of Grade 2 and moving to longer texts the next year.

The regulations governing certification of schoolbooks specify that textbooks should support handwriting instruction through their pedagogical methods and graphic design. Four sets of officially-approved textbooks for Slovenian for grades 1–3 are produced by publishers Rokus Klett, Mladinska knjiga, Izolit and Državna založba Slovenije, and out of these, teachers can use the ones they prefer. Most publishing houses present letters with similar forms and strokes, in the form of an upright, fully-joined cursive style.

Towards a Slovenian model for handwriting instruction

In 1774, reforms initiated by Maria Theresa and Joseph the Second of the Habsburg empire first introduced compulsory schooling in Slovenian-speaking regions for all children aged 6–12 years old, regardless of sex. In the 19th century after the establishment of the Illyrian Provinces, a single primary school model with uniform curriculum was instituted. Handwriting was important at least from the beginning of this period, as evidenced by the existence of Probeschriften, or writing exercises, which were used in schools. Further, writing methods in Slovenia were influenced by their German, Italian, Czech and Yugoslav counterparts, mirroring the broader cultural environment.

For two centuries until 1957, a course called Lepopisje was taught in primary schools, and it focused on beautiful writing, correct posture and writing implements, and proper letter shapes. Extensive school reforms occurred in the erstwhile Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1953–58. As one of its constituent federal republics, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia saw the integration of Lepopisje into the teaching of Slovenian in 1959. Consequently, handwriting came to be assessed as a component of the language curriculum.

Ropič Kop, Marija, Urbančič Jelovšek, Mateja, Kramarič, Mira. Na vrtiljaku črk 2: učbeniški komplet za učitelje pri pouku slovenskega jezika v 2. razredu devetletne osnovne šole [A textbook set for teachers teaching Slovenian language in the second grade of nine-year primary school], Ljubljana, Rokus Publishing house, 2000-2002. Teacher’s guide, three sets of syllable cards, Recorded material: Words and letters, individual sounds, dialects, foreign languages (CD and cassette).

While many textbooks for Slovenian were published in the decades after the Second World War, it was only in the 1970s that modern workbooks were introduced. After Slovenia gained independence in 1991, the country’s economic situation changed. This led to the founding of many private publishing houses.

Na vrtiljaku črk 2, Rokus Publishing house, 2000-2002. Student workbook with handwriting model for handwritten letters.

Among them was Rokus Publishing House (now Rokus Klett), which began publishing schoolbooks in the late 1990s. One of their offerings was a book series for Slovenian called Na vrtiljaku črk, targeted towards students in primary school. A special typeface family was developed for this series by calligrapher and type designer Lucijan Bratuš. It was part of a first-of-its-kind systematic project in Slovenia about children’s literacy and letter acquisition, driven by experts such as Mira Kramarič, Marija Ropič and Mateja Urbančič Jelovšek, together with a group of designers interested in the subject. Even though the typeface was never officially approved, it has emerged as a widely-used teaching model in Slovenia, and has been copied and adapted by other private publishers.

Since 2000, many publishers have improved the design of handwriting textbooks and made them more children-friendly by introducing illustrations of letterforms and including arrows that highlight stroke order.


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