Florida's new BEST standards for English Language Arts are such an improvement! I am sure we can pick them apart and find things to complain about, but there is so much to celebrate. The Foundations standards will put explicit, systematic reading and spelling instruction into Florida classrooms. I am also excited to see that handwriting has made it back into Florida classrooms – Handwriting and Cursive!
Some claim that handwriting, especially cursive, is an obsolete skill in our increasingly digital world. I agree that keyboarding skills, especially touch typing, are essential. However, they should never replace handwriting instruction and cursive. Inefficient handwriting is a barrier to thoughtful writing, and thoughtful writing helps learners process and internalize what they are learning. In fact, students can recall and apply information more effectively when they take handwritten notes instead of taking notes via the keyboard.
One of the more obvious reasons for teaching cursive is that it will allow students to read many of our nation's earliest primary source documents. I have had parents tell me that when they want to leave a note for their spouse but don't want their kids to read it, they write in their "secret code" - cursive! It is a shame that many young people today can't easily access many of our founding documents because they appear to be written in another language.
What might not be as obvious is how much cursive helps students become more fluent writers and readers and better at spelling too! Compared to keyboarding, handwriting is more effective at improving not just letter recognition but spelling accuracy. The fact is keyboarding does not provide the same level of kinesthetic feedback and stimulate the brain to the same degree that writing by hand does. Reading and writing are interrelated processes, and cursive writing uses the same areas of the brain we use for reading.
Here are some other benefits of cursive writing:
· improved spacing between words
· elimination letter reversals and inversions
· improved spelling ability
· increased writing speed
· increased writing stamina
· decreased writing discomfort and fatigue
Why teach cursive? Cursive enhances multisensory literacy instruction!