Why We Need to Keep Cursive Writing in Elementary School Curriculum

Change in human activity is all around us. Something as traditional as cursive writing is now considered obsolete, a dinosaur and no longer necessary by many. In fact, the Common Core, standards suggested by individual states to guide optimal achievement in mathematics and English language arts at each grade level, has removed cursive writing from elementary school curriculum. Some school districts have opted to keep cursive writing as part of the curriculum, but the vast majority of school districts have abolished it. Yet during the act of cursive writing, many areas of the brain are engaged simultaneously, and our senses have to work together acting as brain food. That’s not as true when using a keyboard, or block printing for that matter.

The act of cursive writing requires changes in touch, pressure, and hand position that are unique to every letter, giving the formation of words flexibility and novelty not found in the sameness of pressing a button on a keyboard. Cursive writing affords more novelty for the eye as well, because there’s more dimension to the text on paper. Cursive writing evokes emotion helping foster the formation of new ideas and consolidate memory of what’s being written. The combination of novelty and emotional context is important for cognitive development, especially memory.

A study conducted by the University of Washington using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) found more activation in the areas of the brain associated with working memory of children with better handwriting than those who had poorer writing abilities. Cursive writing and handwriting in general, when compared to typing, has proven in multiple studies to be better for learning, reading abilities, and comprehension and retention of the material in both children and adults. Cursive writing provides more of a “whole body” learning experience, which lends itself to being a more effective learning tool in the long run. Developmentally, children perceive curved lines and produce curved lines much more easily than straight lines, so for many cursive writing is more natural.

 Many children with brain-based disorders have ocular-motor (visual system) immaturity, difficulty reading and or comprehending what is read, working memory insufficiency and poor handwriting. Cursive writing benefits all children, especially those who have developmental challenges.

Some states have started to bring cursive writing back as part of the Common Core, but if your child is not being taught cursive writing in school consider teaching them at home.

Julia Grover