Whether you know it is as penmanship, cursive or handwriting, learning to connect letters while writing is more than creating slanted doodles on a page.
Cursive writing is mentally and physically challenging.
It offers a quicker medium of communication than printing, and it creates a personal expression that reflects who we are at the moment.
But now that teaching cursive writing is not required by the The Common Core Curriculum adopted by Ohio, is it still necessary for today’s students?
According to area experts, the answer is yes.
“Cursive writing increases fine motor skills, improves hand-eye coordination and challenges visual perception,” said Tiffany Williams, Occupational Therapist at Dayton Children’s.
According to KidsHealth.org, Your Child’s Writing, “Writing is one of the most complex tasks that humans engage in, involving both motor and critical-thinking skills. It’s not surprising that learning to write is a process that takes years to complete.”
Wendy Kline, occupational therapist at Main Elementary in Beavercreek, said that learning to write cursive builds on skills students already have learned and helps them progress to more advanced skills.
“We had instruction in how to print, then in cursive, and then the keyboard,” Kline said. “To be efficient and productive at keyboarding, you still need to have prerequisite skills. Keyboarding is not a multidimensional tool; it’s one-dimensional. If you are better at handwriting, you will be better on the keyboard.”
According to KidsHealth.org, Your Child’s Writing, “As kids grow older and start to use a keyboard, the motor control and communication skills they’ve gained through handwriting will help them become more successful writers because they’ll know how to transfer their thoughts into words.”
Learning to write in cursive requires physical dexterity.
“You need a stable grasp; if not, fatigue sets in, and you’ll see letters get bigger, and it shows that the student doesn’t have distal mobility,” Kline said.
Developing a stable grasp requires muscle strength in the hand, arm, shoulder, even the core, which takes time to develop, Kline said. For students who are being introduced to things they may not be ready for, like preschoolers or kindergarteners who may not be ready to hold a pencil properly due to an unstable grasp, will need extra support from home, school and the occupational therapists to master the skill, said Kline.