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
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.