What are the benefits of teaching cursive handwriting?

Answered by Anita Devi

Question

I am trying to find a scheme that includes both cursive handwriting and spelling that is suitable to be used from Year 1 (or possibly younger), throughout the school (to Year 8) but have failed to find anything. Please can you suggest a scheme?

Answer

In responding to this query, our expert spent a lot of time looking at various schemes and we came to the conclusion it would be unwise without knowing wider aspects of the school curriculum and ethos to suggest one scheme over another.  We do believe the teaching of cursive handwriting comes highly recommended (see benefits below) and that every school should have a handwriting policy.

We would recommend you contact the National Handwriting Association, as they publish a ‘Choosing your Handwriting Scheme’ Guidance booklet; which comes with sample pages. The last one was published in 2013 and it possible a new one is due for publication.

Our research also confirmed that a multisensory approach is best; which embraces different activities such as:

  • Word Match
  • Spell and write
  • Cloze Procedure
  • Listening skills
  • Dictation or Look – Say – Cover – Write – Check
  • Read and Choose

These may help you form criteria for choosing your scheme in conjunction with advice from the National Handwriting Association and the National Literacy Trust

Evidence has also shown us that the more opportunities we give children and young people to publish their work in a real context, the more motivated they will be to write.  It may therefore be useful to consider LendMeYourLiteracy as they publish children’s work as it is to a worldwide audience.

Ten Benefits of Teaching Cursive Handwriting

  1. Relative ease in introducing cursive penmanship to pre-schoolers
    Contrary to common beliefs, it is very easy to teach cursive handwriting. It only requires 3 movements: under curve, over curve and up and down. Print handwriting necessitates an even more complex stroke of straight lines and perfect circles.
  2. Prevents reversals and confusion of letters
    The letters "b and d", "f and t", "g, q and p" are confusing for young children. In cursive, writing the letter "b and d" require a huge difference in directionality.
  3. Enhances spelling ability
    In cursive, children learn to spell correctly since hand movements create some muscle memory that retains the spelling patterns.
  4. Develops internal control systems that can be used as tool for learning
    In a cursive writing, the incorporation of movement, pressure and visual processing is a bit multifaceted. This augments visual spacial and coordination skills. In writing lowercase letters in print, six strokes are required against three movements in cursive writing. Fluent movement is developed. With cursive writing practice, the neuron connections in the brain, responsible for organizing other kinds of information and skills, are greatly strengthened.
  5. Potential for errors are diminished
    Cursive handwriting reduces errors because of the continuous flow of writing. In print, the child picks up the pencil from the paper to start a new letter in a word, thus the potential for mistakes is higher.
  6. Improved reading skills
    The goal in reading is to read words instead of letters at a time. Cursive writing promotes reading words, instead of a distinct letter. After words, reading will move to sentences. Thus, remedial support for comprehension and reading of words are occurring less. The child reads what he or she writes as "whole words" rather than as individual letters.
  7. Enforces the skills for patterns in reading and writing
    Unlike print writing, lower case cursive writing starts from the same beginning point. In print, various letter start from the top, down, middle and many different positions. Letter inversions and reversals are eliminated.
  8. Prevents erratic spaces between letters and words
    In cursive, the flow of writing moves from left to right. It teaches spatial discipline. In print, the child's handwritings are difficult to discern. The spaces between words are so tight. It is hard to tell where the words begin and end.
  9. Helps Left Handed Children
    In print, the left-handed child proceeds to write printing from left to right but will cover what he has written with his arms. This is called the hook position. In cursive writing, the left-handed child learns to write from bottom up and turns the paper clockwise causing great comfort and legibility.
  10. Use as a tool to put thoughts on paper quickly and easily
    Mastery of cursive will be to the advantage of any student in the long-run. The child will be able to write faster. The student can get his or her ideas on paper quicker. It can also be advantageous in taking notes from lectures in secondary and further education.

Source: Samuel L. Blumenfield, "How Should We Teach Our Children to Write? Cursive First, Print Later!"

 

Last Updated: 
20 Sep 2017

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