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Schools Abandon Cursive Writing

In the computer age, some would argue that kids don’t need to learn cursive handwriting anymore.

Others worry about the consequences of losing this skill. After all, the Declaration of Independence was written in cursive. Will future generations be unable to read such a historic document?

Teaching Cursive in Schools

Advantages of Learning Cursive Writing

• Children who have had problems printing get a new chance to write well, says Sandy Purvis, an occupational therapist and owner of HandRIGHTing, Ink in Ardmore, PA, which offers classes in cursive writing.

• Writing in cursive can improve overall penmanship. The act of lifting up the pencil and putting it on the line to make the strokes helps students gain fluency.

• Cursive is faster than printing and in many cases, more legible.

• Students will learn how to sign their names on forms and legal

• Students will be able to read documents written in cursive.

Many students are quite interested in learning cursive, says Mary Claire Ragan, a 2nd grade teacher at Gallaher Elementary School in Newark, DE. While it’s a difficult skill to learn initially, they catch on quickly.

There is no standard for teaching cursive writing in schools today. Teachers who choose to teach the skill can fit it into their curriculum as they see fit, generally in the 2nd or 3rd grade. Some students don’t learn cursive at all.

Cursive writing is not required in Delaware, New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Whether it is taught is up to local school districts. But with the emphasis not only on standardized testing but practicing for them, classroom time is at a premium. Particularly in secondary grades, many children, especially in middle and high school, use computers regularly, taking the place of handwriting.

With so many subjects added to the curriculum, cursive has been put on the back burner, says Sheri Pierson, a 3rd grade teacher at Signal Hill School, Voorhees, NJ. A teacher for 25 years, Pierson squeezes in about 10 minutes a day, three days a week for cursive instruction.

What Parents Can Do

• If available at your child’s school, sign up for a course or interest group where cursive is taught.

Use it or lose it. After 3rd grade, very little time will be devoted to cursive in school, so parents can encourage their children to use it for homework or other writing at home.

Encourage your child to use cursive regularly by choosing one activity, such as writing his spelling words, in cursive. The more a child uses cursive, the more proficient he will become.

Have your child develop fine motor skills through activities such as cutting, coloring, and Play-Doh, because writing in cursive requires small muscle strength

• Enroll your child in lessons, such as those offered by HandRIGHTing, Ink, www.handrightingink.com or hire a tutor. Handwriting without Tears maintains a searchable directory of writing instructors at www.hwtears.com/parents/findhandwritingspecialist.

Terri Akman is a local freelance writer.

Web Resources

DonnaYoung.org offers free homeschooling cursive writing resources at www.donnayoung.org/penmanship

Handwriting Without Tears, a method used in schools, maintains a parent section on its website and sells workbooks. www.hwtears.com

Peterson Directed Handwriting offers a distance learning
service. www.peterson-handwriting.com

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, whose program is used at many schools, is publishing apps to help kids practice cursive writing. www.zaner-bloser.com

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