In the computer age, some would argue that kids don’t need to learn how to write in cursive anymore. Others, generally those predating the computer age, worry about the consequences of losing this important skill. Just consider the Declaration of Independence which was written in cursive. Will future generations be unable to read such a historic document?
There is no set standard for teaching cursive in schools today. How cursive fits into the curriculum depends on the school system. In many districts, teachers who choose to teach the skill can fit it into their curriculum as they see fit, generally in the second and/or third grade. Some students don’t learn cursive at all.
The Positive Sides to Teaching Cursive
• Children who have had problems printing get a new chance to have the playing field leveled, because now everybody has to learn cursive, says Sandy Purvis, Occupational Therapist and Owner of HandRIGHTing, Ink, Ardmore, PA.
• Writing in cursive can improve overall penmanship. The act of lifting up the pencil and putting it on the line to make the strokes, may gain fluency the student never had before.
• It’s an important skill, says Mary Claire Ragan, a second grade teacher at Gallaher Elementary School in Newark DE. Ragan makes it a point to squeeze it into the busy curriculum.
• Cursive is faster than printing and in many cases, more legible.
• Students will know how to sign their names on forms and legal documents.
• Students will be able to read documents written in cursive, whether historical or from a boss or other person who writes in cursive.
• Students are extremely interested in learning cursive, says Ragan. While it’s a difficult skill to learn initially, students catch on quickly.
Why Cursive Writing isn’t Emphasized
• There are so many things that have been added to the curriculum, that cursive has been put on the back burner, says Sheri Pierson, third grade teacher at Signal Hill School, Voorhees, NJ and a veteran teacher for more than 25 years.
• There isn’t time to cover everything. Pierson devotes about 10 minutes a day, three days a week to cursive.
• Many children, especially in middle and high school, use computers regularly, taking the place of handwriting.
What Parents Can Do
• Practice with your child at home. Many schools use the Zaner Bloser program - www.Zaner-bloser.com. Other popular programs include Kid Writing, www.kidwriting.com and Handwriting Without Tears, www.hwtears.com.
• Encourage your child to use cursive regularly by choosing one activity, such as writing his spelling words, in cursive. The more a child uses cursive, the more proficient he will become.
• Use it or lose it. After third grade, very little time will be devoted to cursive in school, so parents can encourage their children to use it for homework or other writing at home.
• Hire an educational coach, such as HandRIGHTing, Ink, www.handrightingink.com
• If available at your child’s school, sign up for a mini-cluster or interest group where cursive is taught.
• Have your child develop fine motor skills through activities such as cutting, coloring, and Play-Doh, because writing in cursive requires small muscle strength.