by Ruth Thompson
Cursive handwriting instruction has become a hot topic in recent years, as some schools remove it to make more time for technology and other curriculum pressures.
Technology and typing are increasingly taking over in education, but there’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned writing. Some school districts that formerly removed cursive from their curriculum have begun encouraging cursive handwriting instruction again.
At CMDS we teach cursive using the Handwriting Without Tears program. It teaches a simpler script than most adults learned in school.
Cursive instruction at school begins in 3rd grade where students learn each letter. In 4th grade, students review each letter and are allowed to use their newfound skills in the classroom. Once they are proficient in creating cursive letters, students can give the handwriting their own personal flare. Some choose to use it exclusively and some don’t.
Nicole Hindman is a CMDS 4th grade parent who’s glad we still teach cursive.
“In this digital age, I am scared that penmanship, especially cursive, is a dying art,” Hindman says. “I want my kids to be able to read letters from their grandparents written in cursive, and while visiting museums I want them to be able to read documents that our forefathers wrote.”
Here are some of the reasons we feel it’s important to teach cursive handwriting to today’s learner.
1. It provides students access to history.
At the age when students are learning to write in cursive, they are also learning about important historical events. Students can view and even read important documents like “The Declaration of Independence.” Students also will be able to read letters, cards and other documents written by older family members.
2. It helps meet some students’ unique needs.
The program that CMDS uses, Handwriting Without Tears, is based on the fact that a multi-sensory approach to learning handwriting can help students with various disabilities. Letters that are connected to one another are more easily followed by the eye. Cursive also can reduce the tendency to confuse printed letters that look alike, like “b” and “d”.
3. It is a form of art.
Writing in any way is an art form, but particularly cursive writing can be viewed as creative and beautiful. Students are always interested in fine-tuning their signature and deciding what their signature might look like. How would they do that if they don’t learn cursive?
4. It reinforces what students learn in the classroom.
In today’s technological world, students spend less time handwriting information related to their studies. Physically handwriting information with a pencil and paper provides reinforcement in a way that typing does not. Many teachers see that students process and retain information better when it is handwritten rather than typed. Younger students are able to pre-write and prepare for a writing assignment better on paper versus going straight to typing out their thoughts.
There has been evidence that shows that students in grades 2-6 using pen and paper over keyboarding had an advantage in the amount they could write, the speed of their writing and the amount of ideas they could express.
5. It develops motor skills.
Cursive activates a different part of the brain from traditional printing. It can be very beneficial for students’ motor-skill development. Many parents and teachers see that a student who has poor print actually has beautiful, legible cursive.
6. It’s a tool in each student’s toolbox of skills.
A varied curriculum with as many connections to each type of learner is the best kind. Cursive is a tool that helps many students, so it should not be left out! It is a tool that every student in today’s world should still have tucked in their toolbox to use when needed, or even to use on a daily basis if it helps them to excel.
Handwriting (and even cursive) should not become a dying art. Old-fashioned doesn’t necessarily mean out of date when it comes to a handwritten note, learning information or signing your signature on an important document.
In Their Words: CMDS 4th Graders on Cursive
“It is faster, and my mom always says write on the line and cursive helps me do that. I even like practicing cursive.” – Hunter
“You don’t have to pick up your pencil between letters. I can keep going when I’m writing and focus on what I’m working on.” – Ella
“I like cursive because it’s pretty. It looks formal and it is quicker than writing in print.” – Allie
“It is much easier. I can write much neater and more quickly. My cursive is better than my print writing.” – Jacob
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Christ Methodist Day School first opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. We encourage you to come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.