There’s something about a little girl typing the name of a boy she likes over and over and over, that doesn’t have the same sweet innocence as a crush’s name scribbled across the back of a science folder.
Public schools are starting to remove cursive writing from their curriculum. Typing is being pushed earlier instead, the argument being that cursive is becoming an obsolete skill. With all the added pressures of standardized testing, administrators claim there just isn’t time to teach the practice. These decisions are being made in regards to keeping up with growing technology, but are they as concerned with cultivating growing minds?
Why Children Need Cursive
Children are spending more time in front of screens now days than communicating with actual people, or paper for that matter. There’s no doubt that typing is an essential skill for today’s world; however, schools should not allow typing to solely replace writing by hand. The problem is not only removing a developmental skill by forgoing cursive handwriting, but increasing the exposure of over-stimulating technology at a very young age. It may be an overly romantic suggestion that cursive stay relevant because it is the art form of love letters, but it’s deeper than nostalgia. Cursive writing assists not only in fine motor skills and important cognitive developments, but provides a break for young minds constantly engaged by electronics.
According to Pshychologytoday.com, “Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity. School systems, driven by ill-informed ideologues and federal mandate, are becoming obsessed with testing knowledge at the expense of training kids to develop better capacity for acquiring knowledge.”
Key Benefits of Cursive
1. Improves fine motor skills
2. Reinforces learning and remembering
3. Improves creativity and clarifies thoughts
4. Gives young minds a break from technology
Cursive teaches and improves many of the same cognitive functions and fine motor skills as learning a musical instrument. Cursive writing engages multiple areas in both hemispheres of the brain. It requires much more communication between the hand and brain than typing and even manuscript writing does. As a result, information that is written is more easily remembered and reinforces learning. Also, the price tag on a pencil and notepad are much more pleasant than that of the violin (the noise, or lack there of, is also pleasant during those precious formative years). What would learning music be like if we only played simulated instruments on a digital device?
Typing instead of writing in cursive is similar to running on a treadmill versus on a track. Covering a lot longer distance in a shorter amount of time may be easier on the treadmill, but your body would not be working as hard as it would be on a track. The brain does not have to work as hard to type as it does to write. As welcome as this may seem to most adults, children’s brains are rapidly changing and the extra challenge is excellent for optimal growth. Children writing on paper are also more likely to draw pictures and make side notes or diagrams as they write. These things actually help improve creativity and clarify the thought process.
Let them unplug
Children should be able to sit down with a pen and notepad to write without the ever present distractions that come along with computers and iPads. They should be able to cram a journal, filled with all their 3rd grade woes, in their backpack without worrying about breaking some pricey gadget. The environment we live in today is continuously connected by technology that values immediacy and social immersion online. An opportunity where learning can take place that requires patience, solitude, and undivided attention needs to be created if it is no longer available naturally. Schools should be wanting to support activities that give children this freedom.
It’s probably impossible to avoid mentioning the fact that some kindergarteners have iPhones already, and also a Facebook profile for themselves and their pet turtle. Crushes are probably not scribbled on folders as often any more, they more likely receive little emoticon hearts or winky faces. Technology is an inevitable part of your child’s life and learning future, and that shouldn’t be a bad thing. We should make sure however, that the biggest lesson children learn is that they hold the potential to make technology great, and not the other way around.
What do you think? Is cursive still an important part of school curriculum?