By Penelope Carlevato, RN
Usually, a child begins to learn cursive writing in the 3rd grade. Still, with 41 states and the District of Columbia participating in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, cursive writing was removed as being a requirement and is being replaced by keyboard skills. This initiative details what K-12 students in the U.S. should know in math and language arts at the end of each school grade. This unproven method indicates that students can learn by technology alone! But is that true?
With computers and cell phones in almost every home and hand, America’s classrooms are putting our children at risk, not only with brain development but with needed writing skills. Cursive writing is critical in teaching and developing individual motor skills as different areas of the brain are activated. When children are taught cursive writing in addition to print writing, they get the additional opportunity to learn the alphabet twice. It is especially beneficial for a child with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, as it helps to connect words to letters in a meaningful and productive way. The fluid movement of cursive handwriting and the reinforcement of correct left to right direction leads to more advanced brain function in areas that technological typing does not touch.
While it is increasingly important for children to have the skills to work on computers, research indicates that there is a considerable benefit to cursive handwriting. I spoke to a group of retired educators who also pointed out the historical context of cursive writing and connecting students with the past. Most historical documents are in cursive, and students will not be able to read them, nor will they be able to read important letters and cards from their grandparents, if they cannot read cursive. My cousin Jean, who was an elementary principal and taught her whole career, voiced her concern for kids not having the opportunity to learn cursive and miss the excitement of that time frame in their education. Heather Weis, a 3rd-grade teacher from Akron, Colorado, was most emphatic that cursive writing is essential to a child’s learning and development.
Writing in cursive gives each writer the benefit of adding flourishes, and writing in their unique way. The computer limits the creative and academic performance, and many personality traits and learning abilities are lost, such as thinking and language and memory development. Graph analysis, or handwriting analysis, is used in some courts of law to provide evidence in a forgery or authenticity of a document.
Researchers state that students who take classroom notes with a pen and notebook actually learn and remember more than those who take notes on their laptop. While handwriting is slower, the cognitive process engages the brain to work harder and increases the retention and comprehension of the lesson. Other studies tested students a week after attending a lecture. Students took notes with a laptop and with handwritten notes. The pupils who took notes the old-fashioned way achieved higher scores. With the research available, it makes sense to encourage school-age children to learn cursive. If not taught in school, parents or grandparents can teach children at home. Not all children learn at the same level or age, so it is essential to observe the child’s fine motor skills. Can they print most of the alphabet? If so, it’s time to get started.
Steps to Teaching Cursive:
- Experts suggest purchasing dotted lined paper.
- Provide your child with a full page of all the letters in cursive, both uppercase and lowercase. (It is easier to read the letters first before teaching them to write.)
- Start by writing one cursive letter at a time, beginning with the lower case.
- Practice with your child, and if there are several children at a time, learning is more fun.
- Show–don’t just tell your child how to write.
- Make sure your child is sitting in a good position at a table. Practice using a pencil and a felt tip pen as it’s easier when first learning.
- Let your child practice—and be patient. Practice makes perfect!
Whether you are in 3rd grade, 30 years old, or 80 years old, cursive writing is an important skill to possess. Even in old age, it helps slow the rate of dementia. Handwriting will help older folks keep sharp minds, and children and grandchildren will be able to read the letters and cards grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles send to them. Yes, cursive handwriting does matter.
About the Author:
Penelope is a Christian author and speaker, a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Titanic Speakers Bureau, and is a contributing author for numerous compilation books. She serves as a regular columnist for Leading Hearts, the award-winning magazine for Christian women and Innovative Health. Her books include “Tea on the Titanic,” “First Class Etiquette” and “The Art of Afternoon Tea.” She is a tour guide for her own tea tours to England. She can be reached for speaking at your event at PenelopeCarlevato.com.