-Mr. Cardwell, Lower School Music Teacher
Woohoo!! Cursive!!! A much anticipated third grade skill is right at our fingertips (literally and figuratively)! But why even teach cursive in this age of technology and keyboarding? Many schools don't. Well, for all the reasons you can argue for not teaching cursive, I have more and better reasons for teaching it.
Number one: We love it!!
The excitement, focus and level of engagement in class when it is time for cursive is palpable.
Two: Cursive is a right of passage.
Reading and writing in cursive is very grown-up; it separates us from little kids and gains us entry into a new world.
Three: This is mindfulness in action.
Being present and paying close attention on purpose.
Four: New neural pathways are created!
The brain is positively changed with cursive practice. There is significantly increased activity in multiple areas of the brain when drawing a letter freehand as opposed to when that letter is typed. It has broader educational impact beyond just learning this particular skill.
Five: Printing, cursive and keyboarding are each associated with distinct brain patterns.
Some students who struggle to process print are better able to read cursive and vice versa. Reading and writing in different forms (print, cursive, typing) activates different parts of the brain; therefore more cognitive resources are engaged than by just being dependent on one, or even two, modes of writing.
Six: Improved handwriting also generates greater activity in areas of the brain associated with working memory.
When we write by hand we are better able to commit information to memory. There is greater connection made in our brains when we form each letter and word by hand than by pushing a key with only slight variation of location on our keyboards.
Seven and Eight: Before becoming proficient in typing, children are able to produce more work when it is written by hand. Additionally, when writing by hand, they are able to generate more ideas.
As they become more proficient at keyboarding, yes, their writing may become more efficient. However, despite being more efficient, there is evidence that our ability to process new information is diminished; and even when proficient at keyboarding, ideas are still less when typing than when writing by hand. Once learned, cursive is more efficient than printing. Therefore, cursive has the efficiency benefit of typing, along with the benefits of writing by hand - idea generating power and new information processing power.
Nine: Anyone who has struggled with mixing up b and d, or p and q, can likely share how helpful it is that in cursive those letters are more distinct.
So, readers and writers who have the challenge of working through variations of dyslexia or dysgraphia often benefit.
Number Ten: We just love it!!