Saying Goodbye to Cursive?

Our elementary school said goodbye to cursive as of this year. Fen’s 4th grade teacher mentioned it at the beginning of the year’s meet-the-teacher evening, and I didn’t hear much of what she said after that. It made me so sad to hear, because I know how much fun it is to learn cursive- it’s loopy, fast, beautiful.

 

Should kids learn cursive writing

 

The two questions I’m wondering the most are: How are kids going to sign their names? And, How are kids going to be able to read any of the Declaration of Independence? (This is a question my hairdresser brought up that I hadn’t even considered.) (!)

I started to wonder if there were any other benefits to learning to write in cursive, besides the prettiness and quickness, and here’s what I uncovered:

  • Handwriting helps with fine motor skills and muscle control.
  • Handwriting helps younger kids (5ish) learn their letters faster, thereby learn to read faster.
  • Handwriting styles and variations help express who you are.
  • Not many students before college age use only computers to take notes in school, and cursive is much more efficient than printing.

The focus on cursive in and around third grade reflects the developmental connection between writing and thinking. The two don’t become truly separated until later. Children who excel in handwriting skills tend also to excel in other academic pursuits (source: How Stuff Works)

Other sources: Time

 

Is Cursive Handwriting Important to Learn?

 

I can’t help but equate this with doing away with art education in schools- sort of like an extension of the whole school of thought that anything visual is simply that; visual. Not educational, necessary, intellectual, or in any way more important than a basic skill.

So, fine. It’s one more thing we have to pick up the slack for at home. For those of us who are already motivated to complement our kids’ education at home with extra stuff, we’ll just add it to the list. But I’m thinking not a lot of parents have the time/energy/inclination to do so, and this is just one more thing that’s hurting the kids who are left behind.

Why am I getting so riled up about cursive writing? I suppose it’s just another little loss to the educational system that may not seem like a big deal on the surface to many people, but it’s another chink in the armor. It’s another piece of public schooling being dropped in favor of dry, testing-focused learning standards. I’m really not sure many of the things being dropped by public schools are looked at closely before being deemed ‘droppable’.

Yes, I will miss cursive writing, but more importantly, I think a lot of kids will be missing out on an important skill.

I’ve learned from my husband to never complain about something without also offering solutions, so here are some resources for you to check out if you want to work with your kids at home on cursive writing:

cursive writing practice sheets Crayola has individual letter practice sheets that include a space to draw things that begin with that letter at the bottom! Drawing and cursive together! Sweet.

This site has lots of free cursive writing printables where you trace over the words.

Here are a bunch of worksheets to practice writing words grouped by letter.

Look how cool this is - a practice sheet for preschoolers to get them in the habit of forming the basic cursive connected lines.

writing-patterns-pic

I found out when researching this post that only Illinois, Indiana and Hawaii have thus far done away with cursive in schools. What do you think? Are you pro-cursive, anti-cursive or indifferent?

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh this makes me so sad. I wasn’t the biggest cursive fan in school but my handwriting is most definitely a product of having learned it. I think you’re right that there’s a link between the loss of art in schools and handwriting, but I hadn’t considering the repercussions like newer generations being unable to read it even. So sad…

    On the strain of thought of typography…I just found this site yesterday and I know it’s not a resource exactly for learning cursive but it is a good resource for some pretty letters, including some cursive! : http://www.dailydropcap.com/
    Chelsea Ward recently posted…Leather and Pearl SnapsMy Profile

    • says

      That’s such a cool site! I’m going to start using really fancy drop caps in all my writing from now on. Cursive is just sort of quietly going away, too. We only found out that the kids weren’t continuing with it this year because the teacher happened to mention it.

  2. says

    This is fascinating. I’ve never thought twice about cursive handwriting because I never realized schools were doing away with teaching it. What is the reasoning behind it? Do you know? My own note-taking script is a jumble of print and cursive which is fast and easy to read. I just can’t imagine my own son not knowing how to read it when he starts school. Weird, but thanks for sharing.

    • says

      I think it’s one of those things you just assume will always be taught… until it’s gone. (Cue the dramatic music.) The reasons I’ve seen are that the schools are using that time to teach other things, and that keyboarding is taking over handwriting, so kids won’t have much use for it. My handwriting is sort of a mashup of print and cursive as well. I like it. It’s fast to write this way instead of all printing!

  3. says

    Thank you x’s a million for this post! As a visiting art teacher to a variety of schools in San diego,I heard this news as well earlier this year. I asked why?.The answer I received from admins. and other teachers was..’not enough time’..Not enough time, I thought!….What do we have time for these days in schools? I am not going to get into that, but I want to commend you for listing all of the benefits to learning handwriting. I always thought about on a personal level about it. For example, how it was unique and individual. I never thought of the fact that the Constitution would be meaningless in years to come! Here is a really good (I think) talk on TED talks about education if anyone is interested. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
    Thanks again! -Lex
    lex recently posted…From Trash to Treasure! ROBOTS!My Profile

    • says

      Thanks! I’ll check out the TED talk. ‘Not enough time’ is the part that kills me- I would love to see a breakdown of what kids spend their time in school doing now as compared with 20 years ago. AT some point art teachers will be showing kids cursive writing as a fascinating history/art study into how people used to write in the olden days. Sigh.

  4. says

    Pro-Cursive all the way. Both my mother and my husband’s mother have beautiful handwriting, and I have learned to practice it as well because I admired their writing so much. I personally love to write in cursive. Printing and the half print/half cursive scribble that most people use seems so sloppy and unrefined to me

    Both my kids learned cursive here in Pennsylvanis, and some teachers insist that they use it for assignments, and some don’t. Both my kids need help reading some cursive handwriting, but they can both use it like champs.
    Andrea recently posted…Cereal MemoriesMy Profile

    • says

      Woah, you’re hardcore pro-cursive. I like the idea of teachers having kids use it for assignments. I’m trying to figure out how to have my daughter continue to practice it, and I’m thinking a good summer project would be to combine cursive writing practice with journal-keeping.

  5. says

    They will sign their names with electronic signatures of course. Seriously I never even though about that and not being able to read the Declaration of Independence. You are so write (sorry). It is really too bad and this post makes me want to start writing in cursive more – thanks for the links.

    • says

      Nice pun. How can you be making jokes in this time of crisis!? I know what you mean by wanting to write in cursive more – I can’t help but write my to-do lists in all flourishy cursive lately!

  6. says

    Pro-cursive. Fortunately my kids are at a Montessori school where they still teach it. I think we’re going to look back at this time and wonder what we were thinking. Exclusively pushing subjects like math and science with the thought that the liberal arts aren’t worth anything is just going to kill creativity. And if you’ve ever been in the math and science fields, you know that they’re not just straight-forward, memorization-based disciplines. The best people pull from music, art, literature, etc. to generate their ideas.

    Great post.
    Tammy recently posted…Even the the Crappy Moments on Facebook are Fake — And that’s “Fine”My Profile

    • says

      I’m so boggled by why so many people want to kill creativity when it’s imperative to kids’ well-roundedness. Some of my favorite art projects I come across are those that combine art + science or math or history. I was never able to grasp history whatsoever until I took my freshman art history class and everything started to make sense.

  7. says

    This bothers me too. Older teen learned all of 4th grade. Younger teen barely learned and now she’s 15 and can only sign her name in cursive. Older teen is explaining to me that state tests require you to print your essays and she believes supplying the workbooks are probably a cost schools don’t want to cover anymore. it’s a shame. younger teen isn’t bothered by it, so i asked, how can you write a love letter in print? and her response, “keyboard, script font”. hmmph.
    vanita recently posted…Bounce Rate Defined Series: Your Irrelevant SEOMy Profile

    • says

      Ha! Script font. It’s true that a lot of school work is taking place on the computer, but that doesn’t change the fact that writing is such a different animal. We could write secret notes in cursive and leave them around the house to pique the interest of our kids. I bet that would work….

  8. says

    I am pro-cursive but I do admit that kids don’t know cursive. My oldest was gung ho to learn in 3rd grade and she wrote beautiful cursive BUT by 6th grade she had forgotten both how to read it and write it! It’s like a foreign language now!
    PragmaticMom recently posted…Kitchen on Fire and Fire SafetyMy Profile

    • says

      It is like a foreign language! And it’s so easy to pick up if kids just practice a tiny bit each day. This is so much more easily done in school, at the same time they’re doing other work, but alas. No such luck.

  9. says

    I teach my kids cursive. In my opinion it’s not an option. Cursive is actually easier to learn than print so I now start the kids off with cursive. They will learn print as they go through life.

    There are so many advantages. It really is sad what our society has come to with regards to our children and their education. Education has really taken a back seat.

    Totally sad.
    Lisa Nelson recently posted…Teaching My Children About Faith – The Great Plan of Happiness – A Book ReviewMy Profile

    • says

      It is easier to learn than print! I love the idea of focusing on that before printing- printing is so awkward compared to cursive. I know we’re not just being sentimental here, too- It’s incredible to me that dropping cursive in our schools was even considered.

  10. says

    I think this is such a shame. While technology’s great there is something beautiful about cursive writing. Mine isn’t the best but when I sit down and take my time I can muster up something. What about beautiful handwritten notes and the addressing of an envelope. The ones that are done in cursive are the ones that I open first. Sadly, it will become a lost art one day.
    Belinda recently posted…Being a Makeup Artist :: The Ugly Side of BeautyMy Profile

    • says

      Oh, to be sure I’m not anti-technology. In fact, I wish I could type better- my husband laughs at how quickly I can type with my sort of made-up technique. It’s so strange to think it will be considered a sort of novelty some day!

  11. says

    I am very pro-cursive. We lived in France when I was a kid, and they start kids OFF with cursive because it avoids all sorts of issues you get into with printing – writing left to right, flipping letters, etc. Unfortunately, our school district doesn’t teach it either, so my kids will be learning it at home.
    maryanne recently posted…Baby Play: The Magical Cardboard BoxMy Profile

    • says

      See, I’m hearing about this idea more and more- starting kids off with cursive. It’s such a smart idea. I think I’ll try this experiment when my 3 year old starts writing. This will be fun!

  12. says

    I am totally pro-cursive. When I was in school, I attended penmanship classes where we were taught to hold our pen in a certain manner, have it strike the paper in such a way, and all our loops and curves must point in the correct direction. IT WAS HORRIBLE! But, I learned the proper way to write. I wouldn’t change it a bit. Even when my teacher wanted me to write with my right hand because I was left handed and thought it too difficult for me to write correctly. I showed her. I stayed left handed and just turned my page 1/4 turn. Now, my hand sat naturally and my loops and curves all pointed in the correct direction. Followed you from SITS Sharefest. Have a blessed day!
    Vicki M. Taylor recently posted…Friday Five Minute Exercise – Harvest WritingMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how horrible it was to learn penmanship, but how happy they are now about it. Isn’t it strange that teachers tried to get left-handed kids to switch hands?

  13. Linda Boldt says

    The looped cursive you all refer to as Cursive is just one variation on ways to join letters. There is a long history to cursive (joined) handwriting. HWT is an alternative to looped cursive and ‘ has built a program that is easy to teach, but the final product is not lovely. Italic cursive is a whole different thing: easy to teach, easy to learn and easy to read. (Looped cursive is notoriously hard to read, even in a printed font. It was never meant to be a legible hand; it was meant only to show you had gone to school. Note all the forms that say: Please print. Teachers should NOT be writing on the board in looped cursive!)
    Check out these people to learn more: Getty-Dubay, Kate Gladstone, Nan Barchowsky and a software program called “Startwrite”.

    • says

      Thanks for the support: I know that the other sources mentioned will thank you, too.

      However, I don’t understand why you claimed that another program you mention (HwTears) wasn’t a looped cursive program. In HwTears cursive, the letters “bfgjklqyz”and “BDGHIJKLQSYZ” _all_ have loops (some big, some small). That means loops on 36% of the lower case, and 41% of the upper case: almost as much as in any other looped cursive.
      I know that the HwTears people enjoy claiming that their product isn’t a looped cursive, but the facts stand against that claim. The HwTears program’s eager willingness to misrepresent _itself_ is in bad taste, professionally and ethically.

  14. says

    I am also a firm believer in teaching kids cursive writing. Such skills are leant best when one is a child and I think kids will be disadvantaged in their speed of reading and writing without it. Even today most competitive exams such as SAT are paper based and actually have an essay section where kids need to write. So I agree with the above posts that it’s really not an option. Fortunately, my kids’ school teaches cursive and I am making it a point to reinforce it at home.
    ——————————————
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  15. Jan says

    I am an amateur genealogist, I research the history of my family. I love finding out about the lives and times of my ancestors. I must be able to read cursive (and also versions of cursive that are not in current use) in order to decipher the facts and details about my ancestors. Right now, genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the US. If the next generation can’t read cursive, they certainly won’t be doing the primary source research needed to get the facts.

    • says

      It makes sense that genealogy would be one of the fastest growing hobbies- people are naturally curious about their pasts, and the internet makes it easier to do this research. That’s a great point you bring up, and one that makes this even more tragic.

  16. Tammy H. says

    I agree… Our very own Constitution of the United States of America was written in cursive, The Emancipation Proclamation was written in cursive along with a number of other documents that made our country what is today.
    Why does our very own school system want to deprive our children and future generations of being able to fluently read the history of our country?
    My daughter is now in college and it just amazes me that everything is about the computer and she is highly dependent on tools like Spell Check and Grammar Check. So I challenge you to do this… Have your child sit down and write up a simple grocery list, it will make you think twice about how much you think you child is learning in school. Taking cursive out of our school system will only make our children more dependent on computer tools such as Spell Check and Grammar Check.
    Do you remember the days of FHA (Future Homemakers of America)? What about FFA (Future Farmers of America)? What happened to teaching our children to be independent? So what if one day the technology fails? People say that our future depends on our children, but in reality our children depend on the technology

  17. Arthur says

    I greatly welcome the extinction of cursive writing. I am a well educated and work in a technical profession, but all through my primary schooling I was chastised for my handwriting and spelling (even coloring outside the lines). Neither of these skills are required in my many weekly hours of e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and many various on-line communication systems. However, it seemed most important to my teachers at the time and prevented them from teaching me more important and relevant skills such as TYPING 100 words per minute. This saves me hours per week over my peers who still hunt & peck their documents. Good Riddance I say to a useless skill in today’s technological world. Take my social security & password to sign documents, just like I file my IRS taxes every year.

  18. Annie Hendricks says

    Pro-cursive and will continue to teach it to my children as I home school. My 9 yr old son absolutely loves learning cursive and makes him feel his learning a secret code.

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