Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cursive Handwriting

From what I understand, many school districts are no longer teaching cursive handwriting.  I find the sad, and frankly a mistake on the part of school boards who continue to add curriculum that can be tested to the school day.  (But that is another story.)

Learning to write in cursive, is so much more than having good handwriting.  Here are a few example:

Concentration - lack of focus and concentration have always been issues.  Maria Montessori even wrote about children who are labeled as "naughty" because they are unable to concentrate on anything.  Like any skill concentration needs to be practiced.  Cursive practice gives students the space and time to develop focus which can then be transferred to other lessons.

Directionality - Rarely do children write their letters backwards while using cursive.  The letters are always formed left to right.  In print the letters begin in all sorts of different places and you may have to go left or right or up or down.  This can be confusing.  In cursive all the letters start on the line and you then move to the right.  

Reading skills - Cursive can improve reading skills.  It practices seeing words from left to right.  Cursive letters are connected to form words.  In print the letters are spaced and then there is a larger space between words, this can be confusing to a child.  Children can read cursive words because the letters are connected to form a single word.

Perseverance, Patience, Pride - Cursive practice teaches children to persevere until they master the correct formation.  Patience is developed by working at something that becomes easier over time.  Pride in one's work and finished products are internal motivation.  We do it because we want it to be beautiful not because we want a sticker.   These three benefits are often overlooked by school boards.

I think cursive should be taught when the child is learning to write.  It is easier to learn.  Many people many say but we need to teach print so children can learn to read.  Well that is true.  But learning to read and learning to write are actually different skills.  We can teach children to read print but to write in cursive with no detriment to the child.

There are many fun ways to learn cursive too.  

Sand Tray - Using a tray of sand or oatmeal with a pinch of cinnamon is a fun way to  practice letters.  It engages sight, smell, and touch.

Painting -Writing with a paint brush and water on the side of the house.  Make the letters and swoops really large to get the movement into the shoulder muscles.

Rainbow writing -  using highlighters to trace cursive letters or words.

So we do need to have a signature, this means we must learn to write in cursive.  Writing in print is actually becoming old fashioned as we use computers to compose, complete application, and send mail.

Cursive is a necessary art form. Young children want to learn how to write in cursive, it is mysterious and very grown up.  If you wait until 3rd or 4th grade it could be too late!  

1 comment:

  1. I neglected to mention that cursive is not being taught because teachers have a limited amount of time each day and are being required to teach the items that are on state tests. These tests totally miss the point of how a child learns. The only way we will be able to help children be life long learners is if parents insist that testing change.