In our alphabet-based exploration on what makes a Madrona School education unique, 'H' is for handwriting -- and for the concrete beauty it adds to our work. The Waldorf curriculum emphasizes handwriting as an integral part of the grade school curriculum. In the 1st grade, students practice writing letters as a precursor to reading. In the 3rd grade, form drawing exercises give way to formal cursive writing practice. In every year, each student collects their work into their unique and beautiful main lesson books, the previously blank pages filling with examples of their paragraphs, poetry, essays, observations and drawing. Recent research reveals how handwriting helps children learn, by improving cognitive development and hand-eye coordination, and strengthening reading through better letter recognition. It lays a foundation for effective note-taking and communication for life. At Madrona School, we write before we type.