Why We’re Teaching Our Child to Write in Cursive


TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Rob MacPherson, Lifestyle-education-US-writing A pupil practices cursive writing at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School in Ellicott City, Maryland on October 15, 2013. For third-grade pupils at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, learning to write joined-up letters is a no-brainer, but outside the classroom, grown-up Americans are debating whether the nation’s children should be studying cursive at all. AFP PHOTO / Robert MacPherson

Our son is starting to write, well ….  he’s starting to use a pencil or marker to scribble on things. Lol The other day, my mother-in-law asked if we would teach him to write in cursive. I hadn’t given it any thought. We both learned script writing and cursive writing in school but the word ’round the campfire is that it’s not being taught anymore.

This article, Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age, explains a bit:

After the children were taught to print, patterns of brain activation in response to letters showed increased activation of that reading network, including the fusiform gyrus, along with the inferior frontal gyrus and posterior parietal regions of the brain, which adults use for processing written language — even though the children were still at a very early level as writers.

“The letters they produce themselves are very messy and variable, and that’s actually good for how children learn things,” Dr. James said. “That seems to be one big benefit of handwriting.”

Of course, we’d teach him to write, but this article specifically tells us how good learning cursive is for children:

Handwriting experts have struggled with the question of whether cursive writing confers special skills and benefits, beyond the benefits that print writing might provide. Dr. Berninger cited a 2015 study that suggested that starting around fourth grade, cursive skills conferred advantages in both spelling and composing, perhaps because the connecting strokes helped children connect letters into words.

The article mentions that typing doesn’t do the same things. I guess it’s like many other skills that we have to learn the hard way because it teaches us more than we think it does.

As a pediatrician, I think this may be another case where we should be careful that the lure of the digital world doesn’t take away significant experiences that can have real impacts on children’s rapidly developing brains. Mastering handwriting, messy letters and all, is a way of making written language your own, in some profound ways.

Anyhoo, thanks to my mother-in-law asking me and that sparking an interest in reading this article, it looks like we will be teaching him cursive after all.