If the Schools Won\\\'t Teach Your Child Cursive Writing, Will You?
Apr 7, 2013 Writing 1825 Views
Many educational experts and teachers value keyboarding over handwriting. This brings up some questions. Does a child need to know how to write his or her signature? Should a child be able to express himself or herself with handwriting? How does handwriting alter the brain?
Parents and educators are struggling with these questions. You may be caught in the middle, and not know what to do.
Linda Spencer describes the dilemma in a Chicago Tribune website article, "Does Cursive Writing Need to be Taught in a High Tech World." Her article refers to a 2012 conference in Washington, DC, held to examine handwriting. Attendees included educators, neuroscientists, teachers, and interested citizens.
While many attendees thought handwriting was still value, others thought it had little value in the computer age. A finding by Karin Harman-James of Indiana University grabbed people's attention. Her research, conducted in 2012, is based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) pictures of children's brains. This research "showed that writing by hand activated parts of the brain associated with language development, while keyboarding did not," Spencer writes.
As a former teacher, with a BS in Early Childhood Education, I understand the differences between printing and cursive writing. With manuscript printing (the kind taught in kindergarten and first grade), students learn to make the letters the same way and get pretty much the same results. Not so with cursive writing. Each letter connects with the others in a different and personal way. In her article Spender says cursive "is more demanding on the part of the brian that converts symbol sequences into motor movements in the hand."
Where do you stand on the issue? Your state may have eliminated cursive writing, but you have the option of teaching it to your child. Many helpful resources are available. You may want to start with a demonstration video on the Internet. The KBteachers website has worksheets in upper and lower case, as well as themed worksheets.
Another website, HandWriting Worksheets, lets you make your own worksheets. First, you enter the title you want. Second, you type a word or letter and it will appear in dots for your child to trace. Third, you may modify the size and color of your practice sheets.
Like learning how to play an instrument, learning cursive writing takes practice. You may wish to purchase a practice book for your child. I checked Amazon books and liked the looks of Daily Handwriting Practice: Contemporary Cursive, from Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. At $13.95 it is reasonably priced and saves you time and effort.
Despite the many resources, despite conferences, the handwriting issue is not settled yet. In fact, it is an issue in flux. Republican Representative Pat Hurley of North Carolina introduced a "Back to Basics" bill requiring public schools to teach students how to write and read cursive. T. Keung Hui and Kelly Poe report on the bill in a Charlotte Observer article.
Hurley is quoted as saying, "It's not going to be inappropriate for students to learning something we learned, and be able to stay connected with their grandparents." I agree with her, and keep remembering the MRI research. For many of my generation, penmanship was more than communication; it was an art.