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Do Children Still Need to Learn Cursive?

CursiveLast night at Parent's Night, I had a conversation with parents of a student new to our school. The father said his son is so excited that he was going to "get to learn cursive"! Word is that many schools have had to remove cursive instruction from the curriculum for several reasons. The reasons relate to time taken from other more important subjects and the question of whether cursive is needed any more in today's digital world. At my school, we teach cursive because we feel it is helpful to students who have specific language learning disabilities.

Teachers everywhere have strong opinions about this. Some feel that being able to write legibly in cursive is part of being literate. They state that there are many historical documents that students will not be able to read if they do not learn cursive. (If you don't learn how to write in cursive you won't learn how to read it either!) One teacher states that she feels it is extremely important for her students to learn cursive. Despite the argument that it is no longer needed, she said that very few of her students have access to computers at home; and, there were very few available to students during the school day. Others feel it is time to let it go, and the only people who are hanging onto to it are "living in the past."

For an interesting discussion about this, go to Should We Still Teach Students to Write in Cursive?

I would like very much to know how you feel about this. Do you want your child to learn to write in cursive? Why? Why not?

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#8 Kate Gladstone 2013-05-30 14:23
Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The fastest, clearest handwriters join only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping others, using print-like forms of letters whose cursive and printed forms disagree. (Sources below.)

Reading cursive matters, but even children can be taught to read writing that they are not taught to produce. Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. Why not teach children to read cursive, along with teaching other vital skills, including a handwriting style typical of effective handwriters?

Adults increasingly abandon cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority, 55 percent, wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When most handwriting teachers shun cursive, why mandate it?

Cursive's cheerleaders sometimes allege that cursive makes you smarter, makes you graceful, or confers other blessings no more prevalent among cursive users than elsewhere. Some claim research support, citing studies that consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

What about signatures? In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

All writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves fine motor skills. That is why, six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which student produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.


Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May - June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf

/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September - October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf

Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at https://www.hw21summit.com/media/zb/hw21/files/H2937N_post_event_stats.pdf

[AUTHOR BIO: Kate Gladstone is the founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwrit ing That Works and the director of the World Handwriting Contest]

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwrit ing That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest
#7 Anita C Truban 2013-01-24 12:01
Yes I think they need to learn cursive.
#6 MarkZ 2013-01-24 04:01
I really didn't mind my kids learning cursive at all ... They seemed very excited about learning it when they it was first introduced to them. As a matter of fact my son who is in 5th grade to this day rather write in cursive. For my daughter who is in 3rd, it seems as a challege and she's very happy to take on it... I guess it depends how you see it. Personally for me I find it to be more of an art of writing... Schools should keep teaching it...
#5 Linda 2013-01-24 02:52
Yes!!! They do need to learn cursive. I was shocked to find out that it wasn't part of the curriculum. I have taken it upon myself to show them how to write in cursive. It's a shame that this has been taken out our children's curriclum. How will they ever be able to sign their name on a document.
#4 Neale 2012-05-05 14:58
I personally agree that kids should learn cursive. A big draw is that they if they don't learn to read it, they won't be equipped to read documents of the past. And without learning to read those, they won't beable to fight for what the constitution states. I think that the govenment is just trying to continue to dumb down kids so that as an adult they won't be prepared as they should be. My kids are learning cursive. And you would be amazed at the number of elementary age books that have curisive written in them. My kids can read those pages too. So - yes, I do think it is important for them to learn cursive. Even if it is taken slowly and they don't actually have to write in it much. A few times a week for a few years won't kill them. They will probably enjoy it this exciting new skill too.
#3 Charles Delano 2011-12-30 15:36
I know the real reason they don't teach cursive anymore, because it isn't on the useless 'No Child Left Behind' tests! how long are parents going to sit back and allow some moronic bureaucrats tell our educators that they will get no funding if they don't comply with a completely insane version of a lower educational standards mandate. I just can't believe this is acceptable to anyone with kids that learn at a normal pace. My wife and I researched all the schools in our state and actually moved to the area with the best accelerated learning program so my children would have the best possible chance for a 'good' public education. I am teaching my kids cursive!!!
#2 Christine 2011-09-30 00:45
I think it needs to be taught - a little. You have to be able to sign your name, for cryin' out in the night! I don't think it needs as much emphasis as it's had int he past.
#1 PlungerSplash Guard 2011-09-29 16:14
That some deep stuff right there lvia.
I quess never thought about it. "Do childern still need to learn ceruve'?Now that it's being takeing away from us,how long has it been in schools? Im a 44 stay @home mom who just got internet n my home n May 2011. My youngest is 3 and hearing this , I wll teach him how to wrte in cersive. I notced whn reading ur post it was not in cersive.
So I say if they want to learn cursive learn it from ur momma! Or mothers lke me! In the mean X school better teach kids what they need 2 suceed. like what u can do with math on a computer, or how to grow a busnes from 0 captal to CAPITAL ONE!

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