As a society, many of us falsely think print handwriting is easier to learn than cursive handwriting for students. Adults progressively discard cursive, but, when it comes right down to it, which type of handwriting is better: cursive vs. printing?
Since the time when many U.S. states adopted the Common Core State Standards, many schools have discontinued teaching cursive handwriting since the new standards don’t include it. However, cursive continues to be an essential skill from a cognitive standpoint for several reasons, including:
- Sensory-motor coordination
- Hand-eye coordination
- Fine motor skills development
- Dynamic brain hemisphere engagement
- Thinking memory
- Visual recognition requirements presents an expansive range of letter representation
Even though research clearly shows that writing by hand enhances cognition skills better than typing, when trying to decide if your child should start with cursive or print can still be questionable. There are still many parts of the world that begin teaching cursive first. But, there are still advantages and disadvantages of both, and sooner or later, kids will learn how to write regardless of the form.
Most U.S. preschools and schools start with print handwriting teaching letter recognition and formation. Teachers expect most kids starting kindergarten to already know how to form the alphabet letters and write their names. However, this isn’t always appropriate developmentally.
Hand-eye coordination is essential with both print and cursive handwriting too; all letters start at a new point and your child should know how to pick their pencil up and place it at each letter’s starting point appropriately so their work is legible and spelled correctly.
Studies show that children who learn cursive instead of print writing score better on spelling and reading tests. This is probably since the linked-up cursive encourages your child to think of words as a whole rather than merely parts. Also, when kids already know how to write in cursive, it’s easier for them to learn print writing.
Learning print first doesn’t make it easier for them to learn cursive, however. Children who can write in cursive have an easier time reading print as well whereas children who only learn print can’t read cursive. These are things to take into consideration.
You may consider your child’s pediatric occupational therapist to be a “handwriting therapist” as well since many children have handwriting difficulties in a school setting. The therapist looks at any potential underlying reasons why your child might be struggling with their writing such as:
- Shoulder strength
- Weak fine motor skills
- Weak core
- Weak visual motor skills
- Unintegrated reflexes since they’re born
- Crossing midline skills
- Bilateral coordination
When learning cursive, these things are just as essential for your child to develop. Your child’s therapist will give you ideas on how you can enhance these important skills.