Parents and teachers debate the value of teaching kids cursive writing. In the handwriting wars, “Do kids really need to learn cursive” is the central question.
Some kids love working their handwriting on those paper tablets with the dotted line between two solid lines, indicating where the loops should go and how tall the letters should be. But parents and educators have debated over the past few years over the value of teaching handwriting skills. In the handwriting wars, “do kids really need to learn cursive” is a hot-button issue.
Tired moms don’t have time to argue about it. The pros and cons of cursive writing can help you decide which side you come down on and how to advocate for what you think is best for your child.
Pros of Cursive Writing
Learning cursive writing trains the brain to use visual and tactile information in harmony. It helps develop fine motor skills, and people with good penmanship show greater activity in parts of the brain that govern thinking, decision-making, and language. Cursive writing engages both hemispheres of the brain, promoting memory, language skills, cognition, and reading skills. Plus, it forces kids to slow down and concentrate, honing their ability to focus.
Cursive writing can also encourage creativity, sparking interest in artistic pursuits like calligraphy. This is because the loops and swirls in cursive writing are fun to embellish.
Dyslexic students also benefit from cursive writing. The stop-start of printing can confuse a person with dyslexia causing them to see a string of disjointed letters. However, the smooth, connected flow of cursive writing allows dyslexic kids to see words as a whole, improving their perception of written language.
Older generations still use cursive, and younger people need to know it to decipher correspondence from grandparents and other older relatives. Historical documents where “s” looks like “f” are hard enough to read, but people who’ve learned cursive have an easier time appreciating written communication from the past.
Finally, cursive writing is faster than block printing, and it can help students take more comprehensive notes in class.
Cons of Learning Cursive
Cursive writing can be frustrating for kids with fine motor problems. Problems with hand strength are common in autistic children, and they often need help with developing hand skills.
While it’s important to be able to dash off a grocery list or write a note telling your parents where you’ve gone, we should praise kids with developmental and learning differences for achieving legibility in their writing, whatever their handwriting style.
In the 21st century, using a keyboard is a much more important skill than handwriting. It’s faster than both printing and cursive, easier to correct, and you can store your notes electronically with less effort than scanning or taking a photo of a handwritten document.
Plus, electronic readers can decode printed documents, but they have a difficult time with cursive writing. Anyone who has faced a long delay in receiving their tax refund off a paper return should consider that cursive writing may be a factor in the delay. In short, cursive writing has become obsolete. Many states and school districts have dropped it as a required element of their curricula. Educational time is arguably better spent on more contemporary lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Ultimately, whether kids really need to learn cursive is a matter of individual choice for parents and policy for school districts. If your child struggles with handwriting, have a conversation with their teacher to come to a mutually agreeable solution.