As an educator, one of the things that people like to talk to me about is the fact that many schools don’t teach cursive anymore. Personally, the demise of cursive in schools has been of very little importance to me since, though a series of unfortunate events, I never learned how to write in cursive. And even today, the only thing I write with cursive letters is my very crazy signature. Even though I’m personally ambivalent to cursive writing does not mean I still do not advocate for writing by hand. At a recent conference I attended where several children’s book authors presented, I was surprised to find that many of them still do a great deal of their writing by hand. In fact, I realize that I do quite a bit of my own writing with a pen and paper first before I turn to a computer. So, it seems that in the adult world, writing by hand, is still alive and well. But does that mean it should be in our kid’s world? Research seems to indicate that, yes, it should. Studies have shown that writing by hand activates many regions of the brain related to memory and comprehension. Meaning, that we may be able to learn things better when we write them by hand. Other studies show, that particularly for younger children, learning to write by hand is an important part in developing fine motor skills to help them connect the visual parts of the brain with the areas that process language. This finding seems to indicate, that being able to visually decode text, is linked to how we use our motor skills to create letters. But while we can still champion writing by hand, we can’t make this an either/or occurrence; learning to create text fluently with a keyboard is also a significant skill. In fact, research shows that there are correlations between handwriting and keyboarding skills. Instead of focusing on one or the other, it seems more beneficial to focus on helping children develop good written communication skills both by hand and with a computer.
By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING
Al-Ghabra, I. (2015). Handwriting: A matter of affairs. English Language Teaching, 8(10), 168-178.
Dinehart, L. H. (2015). Handwriting in early childhood education: Current research and future implications. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(1), 97-118.
James, K. H. & Engelhardt, L. (2012). The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literature children. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 1(1), 32-42.
Stevenson, N.C. & Just, C. (2014). In early education, why teach handwriting before keyboarding? Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(1), 49-56.
At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children. We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels. Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.