As schools start again across the country, parents, teachers and school boards are once again wrestling with the question whether to include handwriting in the curriculum or rely more on laptops for note-taking.
Increased use of technology for assignments and testing, more instructional time given to other subjects, and a growing assumption that cursive is a “horse and buggy” skill in a digital age has led to less emphasis on it in schools.
But many educators and parents think handwriting shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. Research shows that knowing cursive handwriting can increase a student’s attention span, language fluency, physical coordination and ability to retain information.
Studies also show that the act of writing stimulates creativity in the brain, says handwriting expert Thomas Wasylyk, author of the Universal Handwriting series.
“People tend to remember things they write more than things they key in,” Wasylyk says.
Cursive makes it easy to get thoughts on paper quickly, notes Kathleen Wright, product manager for handwriting at Zaner-Bloser (an educational curricula and digital resources provider).
Knowing cursive boosts reading power, too. Greta Love, a New York librarian, helps college students hone research skills. She was surprised to discover that many can’t read primary source materials such as historical documents that are handwritten, because they’d never learned cursive.
While it’s true that handwriting isn’t part of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), many states that have adopted the standards continue to offer cursive instruction — among them California, Massachusetts, Florida and North Carolina.
If you think your child should learn cursive, and you can’t get your district to reinstate it, teach it at home, says Sharon Paul, a Massachusetts educator.
“With the right materials to model how to make the strokes properly,” Paul says, “it’s one subject that’s easy to ‘homeschool.'” A good, ergonomic pen, will help the student with the fine motor skills required for handwriting.
Just as kids are proud to read their first book on their own, “a child cannot wait to write his or her name,” says Wasylyk.
Many educational experts agree that learning handwriting is important to students, not only to be able to write their names, and to experience the cognitive enhancement that handwriting stimulates in the brain, but to also be able to read the many letters and documents that have passed down to us from history – all written in cursive.
Source: Leanna Landsmann/ueexpress