In today’s world, so much of our writing is done on a keyboard and the same is increasingly true with students. Because of this fact, many ask…”Should I teach handwriting?“
Simply stated, the answer is YES!
Why is handwriting important?
The skill of handwriting is important because….
1. The brain engages differently when we write something by hand as opposed to typing it on a keyboard or by touching a screen. Studies show that writing improves memory; students retain learning better when working with new ideas through handwriting instead of typing.
2. Engaging the body in writing by hand helps make writing a more holistic activity. There is something uniquely physical and multidimensional about putting pen to paper to form words and sentences.
3. Many writers attest to the value of a handwritten first draft and the subsequent process of reading through and interacting with their writing by annotating, correcting, editing, and reshaping it as a whole. Typing on a screen tempts us instead to edit as we go, fragmenting and dissecting, and potentially interfering with the organic flow of ideas.
4. Even in this digital age, many accomplished people consider it critical to their success to keep a small notebook and pen handy so that they can jot down ideas in the moment and refer back to them later.
5. Handwriting can help us slow down and fully engage with our thoughts. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I type as fast as I think”? This is certainly an asset when transcribing the spoken word, but thoughts need to breathe (as do writers), and writing by hand conveniently holds such a space for thoughts to fully form before being set down in sentences.
6. With a pen in hand, there are instantly accessible creative and artistic opportunities that are not possible to weave into the experience of typing on a keyboard.
7. Handwriting is unique to each individual writer, unlike typeface. One’s handwriting style, and especially one’s signature, is a public and permanent statement. Learning to write well can help make that statement strong, beautiful, and – perhaps most importantly – legible.
8. Being able to write effortlessly enables the mind to focus more fully on a topic. Struggling with handwriting takes valuable brain energy away from any writing task, but when that skill is mastered, it makes all the difference. Skilled, fluid handwriting is an asset to learning!
Now that you know why you should teach handwriting, is it important to teach students to read and write cursive handwriting? Again, the answer is YES!
Why teach cursive?
1. The brain actually engages differently when we write cursive versus manuscript! Studies have found that it activates different neurological pathways in the brain manuscript writing. Also, reading cursive also activates different parts of the brain than printed text—one study found that in all cases they studied, when they presented information to the left hemisphere of the brain fewer errors occurred than when it was presented to the right hemisphere.
2. Cursive helps you retain more information. Studies have shown that taking notes during an educational class using handwriting is preferable to typing. That’s because when we type, we’re able to transcribe speech almost verbatim. When we write, we have to be more selective and the brain has to process information to decide what’s important enough to write down. That level of brain engagement tends to make information “stick” rather than just pass through our typing fingers.
3. Many historical documents were written by hand and are now indecipherable to any who are unable to read cursive. The ability to read handwriting is gained through learning to write in one’s own handwriting. Being able to decipher both cursive and print is an important part of language literacy.
Great, ready-to-use resources:
Now that you know the importance of students learning to write in cursive, what are some of the best resources to use within the classroom?
First, teach students how to write each letter correctly. Here is an all-in-one resource for students to practice each letter:
This resource has 52 pages – 2 pages per letter of the alphabet. The first page has larger letters for younger students. The second pages has a little smaller letters as well as more letters to practice.
Letters on each page are all dashed. There are also arrows which help students know in which direction to begin. If more than one stroke is required, the arrows are numbered.
Once students have learned how to form each letter, it is important to give them plenty of cursive practice! Below, are some excellent resources that you can use.
(The resources shown below have been selected to show a broad range copy work resources available on My Teaching Library for a variety of grade levels and include both religious and non-religious options. To see all options, simply go to My Teaching Library and search using key words such as handwriting, cursive and copy work)
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