Handwriting and Today’s Students

How Handwriting Benefits Today’s Student

Cursive Writing

With the new common core standards, schools are being forced to add more Mathematics and ELA (English Language Arts) into the school day. This makes less time for anything that is not Math or ELA related. And unfortunately, handwriting has been cut from most academic programs. For groups like the Campaign for Cursive and WIMA, this isn’t okay. These organizations, along with many others, have brought to light, all of the benefits that handwriting has to offer.  And some states like California, Tennessee, and Louisiana have even gone as far to add cursive back into their educational standards because of the many benefits that handwriting has to offer.

FINE MOTOR SKILLS

Handwriting takes printing to the next level and really challenges the student to think about what they are doing. In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Klemm states that the thinking level is magnified in cursive because the specific hand-eye coordination requirements are different for every letter in the alphabet. He points out that with handwriting, the movements are continuously different, which is much more mentally demanding than making single strokes, as in printing A, E, F, H, and so on. Making those unique strokes improves dexterity and fine motor skills.

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

Handwriting = Brainpower. Typing and printing don’t offer the same benefits as cursive writing. Learning to write in cursive is an important tool for cognitive development. Cursive writing actually trains the brain to use different parts of the brain for different functions, which helps with work efficiency. When a child learns to read and write in cursive through consistent practice and repetition, they must use fine motor skills with visual and tactile processing abilities. The physical touch of the pen to the paper combined with the repetitive process improves both the cognitive function and development.

MEMORY AND LEARNING

Q: Two 5th grade students are listening to a history lesson and taking notes. The first student is taking handwritten notes and the other student is typing their notes. Which student will retain more of the lesson?

A: If you guessed the first student taking handwritten notes will have a better memory of the lesson, you are correct.

An article from PBS.org states that when we have the physical experience of using our hands, there is an increased opportunity for learning and memory.

Handwriting notes rather than typing them aids in comprehension and recall. In a recent study entitled “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard,” researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer found that students who take notes by hand perform better on conceptual questions than students who take notes on laptops.  What they found was astounding.  Students who took notes by hand actually comprehended the information and were able to put it in their own words—which requires both an understanding of the material and recall. Students who typed their notes on their laptops had a much more shallow interpretation of the lesson.

TREATING DYSLEXIA & OTHER DISABILITIES

Nearly 1 in 5 students has a learning disability and the most common learning disability is Dyslexia. There are recent studies that show that handwriting can help students with Dyslexia. Dyslexia is caused by a functional disconnection in communication between the auditory and language centers of the brain, and when you practice handwriting you are joining together both the auditor and language centers. So it is easy to see how handwriting can improve these communication deficits.

30% of children with Dyslexia also have at least a mild form of AD/HD and handwriting can help those suffering with ADD. Handwriting can also help those students suffering from ADD or AD/HD. One mother says, “Our son has learning disabilities, including ADD. Teaching him cursive at a young age proved to be a successful intervention for him because his pen and his thought did not stop moving and “get lost” in the space between letters. Cursive writing definitely improved his concentration and attention.”

ACADEMIC IMPROVEMENT AND CONFIDENCE

There is a direct correlation between good handwriting and improved academic performance.  When students write confidently and legibly, their academics showed improvement.

At Blackshear Elementary School, a Texas school used handwriting to help its failing academic program. The teachers noted that excellent handwriting was a goal that all of the students could achieve.

And, for students who are struggling, success in one area can lead to greater academic potential.  Dr. Klemm observed, “As a child learns to master academic challenges, self-confidence emerges and provides a drive to learn more because the child knows that achievement is possible. Learning cursive is an easy way for a child to discover important tactics for learning as well as the emotional benefit of being able to master a task.”

The benefits that handwriting offers today’s student are countless. With practice, handwriting provides more confidence, better dexterity, improved recall, and memory; and it can even help those students suffering from disabilities like ADD and Dyslexia. Here at Amsterdam Printing, although both are necessary, we believe that the pen is mightier than the keyboard.

SOURCES:

Cursive Logic: http://www.cursivelogic.com/why-cursive/

The New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/why-handwriting-is-still-essential-in-the-keyboard-age/?_r=0

PBS Newshour: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/connecting-dots-role-cursive-dyslexia-therapy/ 

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