Teaching Children Shorthand?

I’m a homeschooling parent.  I learned the Diamond Jubilee version of shorthand when I was in high school back in the 80’s.  Thanks to this blog, I was introduced to Notehand and Greghand, which I’d never heard of before.  I bought the Notehand book and was delighted to find out that it teaches note-taking skills as well as the shorthand.  I’m currently teaching it to my 13-year old son, hoping it can be a useful tool for him.  He likes the “secret code” aspect of it.  I’m curious if shorthand was ever taught to young children back in the day?  Any recommendations out there for teaching children shorthand?  I’m currently working through Notehand and Greghand, myself, as a refresher.  I did luck out and find the Teacher’s Guide for Gregg Notehand:  A Personal Use Shorthand with Integrated Instruction in How to Make Notes.

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  1. You found the teacher's guide? Wow! That's a very rare book!

    Was Gregg ever taught to children? Yes, by no other than Dr. Gregg himself! Dr. Gregg's first shorthand class in the US was to the Boys' Institute of Industry, a philanthropic organization with the purpose of keeping orphans out of the streets. The full story is in Leslie Cowan's biography of Dr. Gregg. In addition, Dr. Gregg published the Gregg Shorthand Junior Manual and a corresponding reading book, in both Pre-anniversary (1916) and Anniversary editions, designed with the junior-high school student in mind.

    Probably the one thing to remember with teaching kids shorthand is to make it enjoyable and not a chore. Also, I think it is important to make them transcribe everything they write, because they are still learning the English language and are prone to spelling errors!

    1. Oh, wow, I had no idea the teacher's guide was rare. I didn't even pay very much for it! If you like, I can try scanning it in (it's only about 40 pages long). It'll take me some time to do it, but I'd be happy to. I've already benefited so much from this group, so it'd be my thank you in return.

      That is so fascinating about Dr. Gregg starting out teaching boys. I'll have to try to track down his biography. It'd be fun to see the junior manual, too. I had no idea!

    2. In the last of a series of printed speeches by Dr. Gregg at the 1913 Silver Jubilee, he talked about this:

      ". . . really, our system is so easy to learn and so legible that there is no reason why it should not be taught to children early in life. If it is taught early in life, it becomes almost second nature.

      "In the summer class the other day we had a demonstration by a girl of seven years of age, writing shorthand on the blackboard, and I hope that we shall be able to have a demonstration from that little girl before this convention closes. I know, too, of a gentleman who taught his children Gregg Shorthand before they learned their A, B, C's, and he said that they made more progress in writing and reading afterwards because they had learned to write by sound first.

      "A teacher in giving the first lesson in the Teachers' Contest the other day, showed how simple it was to make the 'k' in shorthand—just one stroke—whereas in longhand the child had to learn to make a number of strokes to express that sound. In addition to that, the child had to learn another character for the letter 'c,' which has the same sound as 'k.'

      "That, I think, gives you an illustration of how you can teach children to write it, and believe me [laughter], the time is coming when it is going to be almost universal."

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