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Is Teaching Cursive Writing Important?

Should you teaching cursive writing to your child? Years ago this wasn’t a question at all. Cursive was taught in our schools and homeschools without question. In fact, most students were required to write in cursive during their middle to upper elementary school years and throughout high school.  Along the way, teaching cursive became an optional skill.

Are you looking for other resources about teaching writing in your homeschool? If so, here are some additional articles you might like. Should We Keep Handwriting in the Homeschool Mix? Tips for Teaching Your Child to Write Right, and A Good Pencil Grip Can Make All the Difference.

If you’re looking for curiculum for teaching cursive writing, we highly recommend these products: Handwriting Without Tears Cursive and New American Cursive.

Is Teaching Cursive Writing Important?

Teaching Cursive Writing -- Is it an important skill or just optional

So why is it questioned now? Because of the use of computers, smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices that do our “writing” for us. Handwriting just isn’t as important in many schools as it once was, and cursive writing in particular is often seen as unnecessary. After all, if a child can print and recognize letters in print, he or she will be able to read the text that is seen on computers, smart phones, etc. The main time the lack of knowledge of cursive writing is a problem is when students aren’t able to read, for example, handwritten letters from grandparents.

However, many parents don’t realize that teaching our children cursive handwriting is still valuable for many reasons!

 It’s a form of art

The arts not only make school more fun, but they are also associated with better understanding in subjects such as math, reading, and critical thinking, and they help improve students’ verbal skills. And of course the arts (including cursive handwriting) help improve students’ concentration and motivation. Those benefits alone are enough to convince me that cursive handwriting is worth teaching!

Eye-hand coordination

As a child learns cursive handwriting, his brain creates new circuitry in order to make the required movements and to learn to make these movements faster and better. Also, cursive handwriting uses movements which are continuously variable. Because of the changes that are required from one letter to the next (the letters are formed in different ways and connected in different ways depending on the particular letters needed to spell a particular word), it is necessary for the child to think harder and use both cerebral hemispheres of the brain. Cursive handwriting engages the brain and is more demanding than print simply because print writing requires mostly single strokes—without the connections or variations between and among letters which are required for cursive writing. (1) In fact, pictures of brain activity while a person is writing in cursive show that “massive” regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory are used. (2)

Improves spelling ability

Because cursive letters are connected, children are better able to see words as a whole instead of seeing them as separate letters as they do in print. This also helps the child learn to see patterns that occur in spelling. (2)

Improves ease of learning

This is true, particularly for children with learning challenges such as those who have dyslexia or ADD/ADHD. Cursive writing eliminates the frequency of “stops” and “starts” used in printing. Also, letters such as “b” and “d” look less similar in cursive writing. (2)

Increases retention

Older students benefit from cursive writing because the simple act of taking notes by hand helps students to process content and better understand and retain information. Studies done on college students have shown that they better remember information a week later when they transcribed it in cursive as compared to transcribing it in print or by typing it on a computer. (2)

Develops sensory skills

Learning cursive requires motor planning in order to form letters in a fluid motion from left to right. This physical and spatial awareness not only allows children to write in cursive, but it also builds the neural foundation of sensory skills needed to perform common tasks like tying shoes, fastening buttons, and even reading. (2)

Improves writing speed

Because cursive letters are connected, it is generally much faster to write in cursive than to write in print. Print writing requires more “starts” and “stops” (as was previously mentioned), so the speed of writing is slower. Speed has also been shown to increase attention span during writing.

Allows a “higher quality” signature

It simply looks better and seems less “childish” when a person signs his or her signature in cursive rather than print.

Psychological benefits

As a child learns cursive handwriting, she experiences certain psychological benefits. One of these benefits is the ability to better pay attention. (As one of my source articles points out, this is very important in this age of multi-tasking! And I personally believe this is a great practice for so many of our children who have attention problems—like ADD or ADHD. Learning to concentrate and pay close attention is something these children definitely benefit from!) Another is self-discipline. It takes more self-discipline to write in cursive than it does to write in print, and self-discipline is something all students would do well to improve. (1) (2)

Ability to read cursive

It is important to many families that the children be able to read cursive in order to read (and write!) cards or letters to, for example, grandparents or other friends and relatives. Also, though our children may not admit it, the failure to be able to read cards and letters from grandparents may be a source of embarrassment to children.

If you’d like to read more about teaching writing in your homeschool, take a look at these articles:

As part of my research for writing this article, I read and referenced these articles: (1) Biological and Psychology Benefits of Learning Cursive and (2) Top 10 Reasons to Learn Cursive.

What do you think? Will you (or do you) teach cursive handwriting in your homeschool? Why or why not?

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  1. Also, under ability to read cursive, you should mention that those that don’t learn how to read cursive are going to be unable to read historical documents as well.

  2. I know it is unexciting and takes time, but my kids were always excited to learn it! because I found out that there are many fun ways to teach cursive writing at home :)Mei

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