Day by day
Cursive-writing instruction has proven benefits
By LIZ THOMPSON
May 27, 2015
This Week News
Westerville was a village when I was born. I innately knew my neighbors — along with people at church, librarians, teachers, firemen, policemen, doctors and all people in authority — were there to protect and care for me.
School was never an option for me, nor did I want it to be, at least till third grade. On the first day, a friend of mine was talking to me, yet I was put in the corner by my teacher. No excuses. I got my marching orders.
This was the year to learn cursive writing. I was working on my alphabet on lined paper, likely sticking my tongue out one side of my mouth in concentration, when my teacher peered over my shoulder.
“Fix that F,” she said sternly.
I tried again and again and I still didn’t have the top loop open enough — and she told me so. I was near tears when she said, “You’ll never learn to write, Elizabeth.”
I hear you — if these were my worst school experiences, I got off easy comparatively. I know this now, but then I did not. I worked to write better, and with my mom’s help, I succeeded.
Writing cursive was and still is much easier than printing. As a writer who relies on her computer, I still begin all my writing in cursive on paper.
Today I know many of these same figures of authority are working to protect children in much the same way, although laws and rules have changed.
One change found lacking in the Common Core is the removal of cursive-writing instruction from school curricula. This fact is up for discussion.
Two such protectors of education are state Reps. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). They sponsored House Bill 146 in April, requiring cursive writing to be taught in all elementary schools.
Specifically, the bill requires: “Handwriting instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade to ensure that students develop the ability to print letters and words legibly by third grade and to create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.”
This bill, with 13 co-sponsors, including several minority Democrats, follows a state law that went into effect last year, requiring students to read at grade level before they are promoted to fourth grade.
Even in this digital and app-based era, if they cannot write it, they likely cannot read it.
“Research proves cursive writing is essential,” Brenner said. “There is no contraindication for it. The Common Core does not require this in the curriculum and we need to have it back.”
Brenner has served as vice chairman of the Ohio House Education Committee for three years and hears from people who are surprised it is not being taught. The vast majority of those are in favor of teaching cursive writing.
“Cursive writing is a necessity, like learning to read,” Brenner said. “The arguments (against it) are that it is a modern day. Even though we have calculators, students need to know the basics of math to connect. Writing cursive is literally connecting one letter at a time.”
In Psychology Today, William R. Klemm wrote that writing cursive develops eye-hand coordination; to write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed.
“Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual and tactile information. The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument,” he wrote.
Grossman said she knows technology is important, yet learning cursive is equally important for different reasons.
“Research conducted by Columbus-based research firm Saperstein Associates shows that handwriting is a foundational skill that positively can influence students’ reading, vocabulary, memory and critical-thinking abilities as well. Studies report that longhand writing has also been shown to assist kids with dyslexia, helping them to become better students. Studies indicate that individuals retain much more of the content when notes are taken in cursive,” she said.
“I have been amazed to hear from teachers, parents and friends how much they support requiring handwriting be taught in elementary school,” Grossman said. “This can be accomplished with as little as 15 minutes being spent on this per day and can also be incorporated into other subjects.”
The problems with Common Core should be replaced by common sense.
I obviously overcame my third-grade experience. What challenges us makes us stronger, so let’s challenge our children in a good way.
When we look over their shoulder, instead of saying, “You’ll never … ,” let’s say, “Here, let me help you.”