Cursive writing isn’t taught in today’s schools the way it has been in the past. That doesn’t mean it isn’t as important today as it has been throughout the centuries. The fact is, science is just now learning that cursive handwriting is more than a tool for communication, it is also a tool for cognitive development.
The Childhood Impact of Cursive Writing
Psychology Today reports that cursive handwriting is one of the tools that helps train the brain to learn functional specialization that helps to streamline or integrate sensation, thinking, and movement control. We know this because numerous brain scans indicate that multiple areas of the brain are “co-activated” while learning cursive writing rather than typing. Learning cursive may, in fact, be instrumental for improving brain development in the areas of language, thinking, and working memory. It goes even further by stimulating brain synapses as well as synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres. This is something that doesn’t happen with either printing or typing of letters.
In early childhood, the practice of writing by hand helps students learn new letters and shapes, a building block for not only learning to recognize words, but to write them as well. Learning cursive writing also helps aid in the development of fine motor skills.
The Importance of Cursive Writing Beyond Childhood
The impact of cursive writing goes well beyond synapses and neurons, and things that may seem abstract to many parents. The New York Times reports that cursive handwriting has an impact on higher education as well. According to the article, the College Board claims students who wrote in cursive on the essay section of their SATs scored slightly higher than those who wrote in print. The prevailing theory is that cursive writing is faster and more efficient than printing so that students can focus on the content of their essays rather than speed.
The benefits work with aging populations too. The Wall Street Journal claims that Baby Boomers could benefit by learning new letters, such as Chinese characters, to serves as a cognitive exercise to keep their minds sharp while aging.
“Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity,” says William Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D., author of the Psychology Today article. Cursive handwriting compares it to learning to play a musical instrument for spurring brain development, without the expense of musical instruments or training.
While some schools are no longer mandated to teach cursive handwriting and are moving cursive writing off the curriculum, its importance for well-developed children has not diminished. Parents must now take up the slack and provide their children with the tools they need to learn this important skill.