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Why We Teach Cursive

Why We Teach Cursive

The Cursive Debate

Why should your child learn cursive in these days of keyboards and touchscreens? What’s the point of learning cursive when everything is typed? Don’t students use computers all day at school? Is there really any educational value in learning loopy handwriting - or even how to hold a pencil properly anymore?

The past 10 years have seen a noticeable shift in the teaching of cursive. In the Delaware area, of those schools that still teach cursive, many do not require students to use it.

At The Independence School, we take a different view. We believe strongly in the benefits of teaching cursive in the elementary school grades - and in continuing to develop those skills throughout our students’ time with us. There’s a lot of research that agrees with us, too.

To put it simply: the main reasons to teach cursive are all in your head, or more precisely, all in your brain!

Developing Neural Connectors

In this day and age of fMRI scans, studies indicate that the haptic feedback (touch and pressure) the brain receives while engaged in cursive writing is beneficial for cognitive development.

Brain mapping from these studies shows that both hemispheres of the brain are active when handwriting, creating a synergy. The more neurons that are activated, the greater the learning and the better the retention of the information. This simply does not happen when using a keyboard.

As Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor at the University of Washington, confirms, “Cursive handwriting stimulates the brain in ways that typing cannot. Handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential finger strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding only involves touching a key.”

Improving Fine Motor Skills

Alexandra Beer and Candace Meyer, of Minds-in-Motion, note that, “What you may not realize - and what many educators do not realize - is that by learning cursive, you were not merely learning how to communicate in another font, you were building the neural pathways necessary to stimulate brain activity that enables language fluency and vision-motor control important for cognitive development, learning, reading, sports, socialization and everyday tasks."

They add that there has even been an increase in the need for occupational therapy as physical writing makes way for keyboarding.

Writing Fluency

Although it could be any kind of handwriting, cursive or ‘connected writing’ is not only more efficient, it also increases writing fluency, allowing ideas to flow. Speed has been shown to increase attention span during writing. When we delve into brain science during the fifth-grade Learning Applications curriculum at Independence, we encourage students to continue to use their cursive handwriting skills for these reasons.

For optimal learning, let’s stick with cursive!

Certainly, science will continue to reveal how our brains operate and the best ways for us to learn. We will need to pay attention to that. And who knows what the growth of Artificial Intelligence will mean for writing in the future? So while this story is not over yet, we will stick with cursive, until we find out that some other method of communication beats cursive for brain development.

Learn more about Writing Excellence at Independence