Part 2: Cursive comeback suggests handwriting still matters

close-up of a chalk board with cursive uppercase and lowercase letters a-f written

Yes, children learn keyboarding skills early, and yes, a few years ago cursive writing appeared to be going the way of slide rulers and shorthand. That trajectory, however, has slowed and in some cases, reversed, as research continues.

Predictions of bye-bye to cursive were premature

A glance at headlines show that many have hit “pause” on ditching cursive. From the New York Times in 2019: “Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It’s Coming Back.” Or last year from the San Diego CBS affiliate: “The Cursive Comeback: Should California Elementary Schools Teach Cursive?” And just this past May from the Colorado Springs ABC Affiliate: “Cursive Comeback: Why It’s Not Taught in All CO Schools, and Why Teaching It May Be Vital.” Clearly, “Why do we need it anymore?” has melded into “Let’s not be too hasty.”

Two years ago, Georgina Berbari, writing for Considerable, noted that “America’s schools are once again embracing cursive writing." A year earlier, Ohio then-Governor John Kasich had signed a bill mandating that cursive handwriting be taught in Ohio public elementary schools. Berbari added that “…more than a dozen states, as well as New York City, have moved in the same direction, reintroducing cursive handwriting back into classrooms.”

Writing by hand produces big benefits

What’s happening and why? While some have politicized the teaching of cursive, the Considerable article says, “Scientifically, researchers have found that learning cursive improves dexterity, orthography and reading skills.” (Orthography is the spelling system of a language.)

Last fall Neuroscience News published "Why Writing by Hand Makes Kids Smarter." It says, “Results from several studies have shown that both children and adults learn more and remember better when writing by hand.”

It also reports that Audrey van der Meer, professor of neuropsychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, “believes that national guidelines should be put into place to ensure that children receive at least a minimum of handwriting training.”

In July, “Why Does Writing by Hand Promote Better and Faster Learning?” by Christopher Bergland, writing for Psychology Today, reports research pointing to significant benefits of writing by hand. The article says, “Cursive handwriting engages sensorimotor brain regions that are not activated by typewriting; this neural activity helps students learn better.”

It also says that “Handwriting practice involves specific motor skills that are only engaged when writing by hand with a pen or pencil.”

Additionally, the Resilient Educator points out yet another benefit of cursive: “Students with learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia, can have a very hard time with writing in print because many of the letters look similar, particularly b and d.” It continues, “Cursive letters, however, look very different from print letters. This gives dyslexic students another option—an option that can decrease their dyslexic tendencies and make them more confident in their abilities.”

Put cursive at kids’ (and others’) fingertips

Help kids develop neat, legible distinctive “connected writing,” with the 64-page Cursive Writing for Grades 3-4 Workbook. Perforated pages make for easy, tear-out and take-anywhere worksheets. Or check out the Cursive Writing & Drawing Tablet 

cover of a kids cursive writing workbook for grades 3-4 with a cute sloth illustration     cover of a kids cursive writing & drawing tablet  with a cute fox illustration

that comes with reward stickers. Traceable letters, words, and sentences will help kids master this lovely, swirly-curly writing on their own. Directions instruct them to “Trace and write the sentence. Draw a picture to match the sentence.” Once they catch on, the first part changes to “Write a sentence in cursive.” A sturdy cardboard insert makes writing possible away from desk or table.

Artist Shelly Abrahamsen posted "How to Improve Cursive Writing: 5 Simple Steps," to her Little Coffee Fox site, offering technical tips for lettering, drawing, and painting. She says she stopped using cursive in grade school and “simply forgot how to do it.” Abrahamsen expresses surprise that cursive “fell out of fashion,” describing it as “an extremely efficient and eye-catching way to write,” and she offers tips on the site for getting back into the loopy-letter groove.

cursive writing practice page from a kids workbook tracing all of the uppercase letters a-z

Cursive handwriting is almost as one-of-a-kind as a snowflake or fingerprint. Given its long history and many benefits, it remains an important skill for kids to learn and master.