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Should precious learning time be wasted on cursive handwriting skills?

In this day and age of abundant smartphones, laptops, and tablets, penmanship is on the decline and becoming an outdated learning tool.

Why is cursive handwriting still a core concept in foundation phase writing, and what are the benefits of mastering this age-old art?

• Children are re-learning all the alphabetic letters, reinforcing recognition, comprehension and sounding of letters. In addition, when forming letters by hand using a pen or pencil, different parts of the brain are activated, which is necessary for reading and writing.

• Cursive handwriting activates brain areas that are important for memory and encoding new information, which is optimal for learning. This includes sensory-motor integration, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills.

• Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity in the central nervous system and between the left and right hemispheres.

• Cursive handwriting helps learners build up fine motor skills and dexterity, leading to greater retention. In addition, as the writer becomes more proficient in cursive, the barrier between thought and action is minimal, resulting in the mind focusing more fully on the topic.

• As children are required to write out the entire word without lifting their pencil, cursive handwriting helps children become better at spelling and reading as words are seen rather than in part.

• Cursive handwriting letters all look very different, which assists learners who might be suffering from dyslexia in discerning between characters. In addition, as the pen or pencil is not lifted, there is no confusion about which direction a “b” or “d” or any other letter faces.

• Cursive handwriting is quicker and easier to form, which results in an increased writing speed. However, the downside of this is that it can appear less legible than print and cause confusion.

Despite compelling research that putting pen to paper stimulates and improves brain development and should not be seen as obsolete, the age-old debate on whether cursive writing should be taught in schools is ongoing. So, the question remains!

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