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Cursive writing has been removed from many curriculums, contributing to its decline in use among young people. The use of technology also has many children and adolescents trading in their pencils and paper for devices. Some argue that knowing how to type and being able to print is adequate and learning cursive is unnecessary. There are benefits, however, to being able to read and write in cursive.
Looking at the Research
There are studies that highlight the brain development that occurs when learning to print, write, and type. Learning cursive seems to spark the greatest neurological effects, activating areas of the brain involved in thinking, language, and memory.
There is also a link between writing information and recall. Students who write out information tend to remember it better than if they type it. The argument can be made that they would experience these same benefits if they printed the information. However, once proficient in cursive, many people find they can write more quickly than print.
Fine Motor Concerns
It is not uncommon for young children to struggle with the physical act of printing. This can be characterized by inaccurate letter formation, inconsistent letter sizing, and difficulties with firmness when putting a pencil to paper. Making the switch to cursive writing may help alleviate these challenges.
When printing, there are many stops and starts as we lift our pencil within letters (e.g., ‘f’ and ‘k’) and when we complete one letter and move on to the next. When we use cursive, writing is completed in a more continuous, fluid motion with few stops and starts. This may help children who find printing challenging. An occupational therapist can help determine whether writing in cursive is a good option to try.
Alleviating fine motor concerns related to printing can help increase children’s written output. When writing is laborious, children can become frustrated and shy away from it. If the shift to cursive is helpful, children may experience more motivation to write.
Without learning cursive, most children and teenagers will struggle to read handwriting. They may be able to figure out the odd word but presenting them with a paragraph or more written in cursive poses a challenge. If children are not going to learn to write in cursive, they will also significantly decrease their success with being able to fluently read cursive. This may be okay when they’re young, but as they grow older, they may find themselves in situations where it would be nice to not have to ask someone else to read things for them.
Learning Cursive…Because It’s Fun!
Don’t be surprised if you find that young children are really excited about the prospect of learning how to write in cursive. Cursive is often viewed as a more “adult” way to write and kids can be eager to do something that grown-ups do. Also, children often view cursive as a fancy way to write, which makes it more appealing than printing. Learning cursive also gives them the opportunity to develop their signature and eventually, their own unique style of handwriting. If kids are interested in learning cursive, why stand in the way?
If you’re ready to introduce cursive, provide kids with many opportunities to trace then independently write their letters. They will also need practice with joining the letters together. There are lots of printables and worksheets that provide guides for forming letters correctly as well as opportunities for practice. With a little time and effort, kids will be able to write in cursive and read all the cursive messages around them!