I remember being introduced to cursive in the second grade. Miss Giarrdi, my second grade teacher at Marie Schaeffer Elementary, taught me with pride how to embellish the letters of the alphabet with beautiful flairs and flourishes. Then, blend letters into complete words. To this day people remark on how beautiful handwriting is.
Today many school districts are beginning to drop cursive instruction. Many argue with the advent of computers cursive handwriting is obsolete. While the beauty of handwriting may have become outdated, the cognitive processes that occurs are not.
Teachers who teach children with language difficulties assert that a key component cursive handwriting provides, when these children are learning to read and write is, “the changes in the neural pathways within the brain” (Petersen 2013). That is, cursive handwriting stimulates the synapses and helps synchronize the left and right hemispheres within the brain. That’s why it’s important to note, developing the ability to write in cursive is about the neural stimulation occurring within the brain, not the appealing product—absent when students are printing or typing (Baruch-Asherson 2012).
Also, the ability to write in cursive gives students the upper hand throughout their learning years. Quick, legible, cursive is always available when computers and printers are not. Writing by hand improves idea composition and expression. Sortino (2012) explains, “Learning cursive improves a child’s fluency, ensuring a secure neural network.” Cursive writing is also linked to developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. In fact, many elementary teachers find students learn to write in cursive quite easily, more so than block and stick manuscript.
Interestingly, research is now revealing the ability to write in cursive increases comprehension. A new study, (Peverly 2012) found college students who took handwritten notes showed better understanding of the material than those who took notes on computers. While, The College Board learned that students who wrote in cursive, for their essay portion of the SAT, scored slightly higher than their peers (Baruch, Asherson 2013).
The importance of cursive has come into question as school districts align their curriculum to reflect Common Core Standards. Nationwide schools are spending less time on introducing and practicing cursive writing and devoting leftover instructional time to “preparing students for the 21st century”. While many educators feel cursive is outdated they must acknowledge the cognitive attributes that occur, when students write in flowing, cursive letters.