Tag Archives: handwriting

The Handwriting Dilemma–Should Keyboarding Push Cursive Out of Schools?

is handwriting necessary in school?


Is looking at your son’s homework making you dizzy? Are you trying to detect how a second grader, in the spring, still isn’t spacing his words correctly? Are you wondering why your child’s teacher keeps marking things wrong when your child swears they’re right?

Chances are pretty good that the problem is handwriting. With computers taking over so much of education, handwriting is taking a backseat, often far, far back on the big yellow school bus. In fact, in 2011, Slatest reported that Indiana became the first state to drop the cursive writing requirement. Other states, including Hawaii followed suit.  How many other states will also remove the requirement for students to learn cursive? That’s unknown. But with Common Core standards taking over adopted public school curricula, teachers are finding less time and space in their day to teach basic handwriting skills.

Which leaves some students, and their parents, in a scribble. Without an emphasis on somewhat neat handwriting, students aren’t being taught to take pride in the work they show. Today, as my son completed a school project, we discussed taking pride in work and making a poster attractive (as well as legible.) “It’s not just there for you to read,” I explained. “It’s there for your friends and teachers to read. If it’s messy, what does that say about you?”

My son is in third grade. He’s a strong student and enjoys focusing on reading, writing, science and social studies. He has state tests next week and, midway through the school year, it was announced that they would not be offered on the computer as the state was not ready to implement the keyboard test.

Uh-oh, I thought. How will the test reader, who doesn’t know him, decipher his chicken scratch on his essays?

I asked his teacher for advice–how is the school helping kids to improve their handwriting and writing skills? And how can I work with the school to help in this area?

Well… they aren’t. Not really. Each child has a handwriting book, but it’s rarely used. At the same time I learned this, my son admitted to me that not only can he not write cursive, but he has a hard time reading cursive. It takes him longer to decipher, especially when it’s not perfectly written.

That made sense. He never actually learned to write in cursive, not really. Not on a regular basis that’s integrated into his daily expectations. So how should he be expected to read quick cursive?

I spend the majority of my working hours running my fingers along a keyboard. My handwriting’s importance has waned in favor of faster keyboarding skills because I use the keyboard far more than the pencil. But I took note, today, how often I still pick up a pen or pencil. I write babysitter instructions, grocery lists, things to do lists, phone messages, my daily work-related goals … and all of these lists usually need to be read by someone else. Most of my notes are written in a mix of cursive and script that has become my “signature style.”

Where would I be if my schools didn’t stress the importance of handwriting skills? Where will our kids be in 10 years? Sure, there will always be the children who see handwriting as an art, but if we stress that everyone will use the keyboard, will the majority of our children and grandchildren know how to read our cursive? Will they respond to our handwritten notes?

Should keyboarding push cursive out of the curriculum? The Common Core Standards don’t list handwriting (cursive or print) at all, however they do state that in grades K and 1 basic legible print should be expected. But after that? It’s up to the state or the school system’s adoption and adaptation of the standards to determine handwriting expectations. Universal Publishing tells us that Massachusetts includes cursive in their standards and lists legible handwriting as a requirement in fourth grade. California includes manuscript in second grade and the teaching of cursive in grades three and four.

What do you think? Should legible, clear handwriting be an expectation for Generation Z (or M or M2) or can that be tossed out with Home Ec and Industrial Arts?

Writing and Handwriting

boy writing

When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with handwriting. I would skip recess to make the letters of each word in my story or report look just right—readable and attractive. I always got a lot of comments on my handwriting, which, of course, I liked.

Writing is an important part of learning to read. Readable handwriting is also important. And no matter your child’s age, you can always find ways to help him improve her handwriting.

Rusty and Rosy Reading™ teaches children how to form letters as they learn about them. For example, they learn the strokes for creating an uppercase T: Straight line down and straight line across the top. Learning the strokes and how to properly hold a pen or pencil make writing letters and numbers easier.

Fine-tuning handwriting skills is not just about creating attractive letters, though. It is also about building upon fine motor skills. It’s about brain development.

This week is actually National Handwriting Week. And to celebrate, you can include these simple ideas in teaching your child about letters and how to write them:

Write in the sand. If you don’t have a sand pit—and even if you do have one outside, it might be a little cold to use it—just get a bottle of sand from a craft store. Pour the sand into a pie tin or small cake pan. Have your child make letters with the correct strokes in the sand, using his finger. (You can also use flour.)

Paint. Get out the watercolors and have your child paint the letters on paper. He can also add a little decoration around the letters for a great masterpiece of art.

Write with goo. What child doesn’t like to squish some sort of soft gooey concoction between their fingers? You can use pudding, flour/water mix with food coloring, paste, etc. Put wax paper on the table for easy clean up. Then put the gooey substance all over the paper. Your child is ready for letter-writing fun. (Same idea as the sand. Have your child use his finger to write letters in/with the goo.)

If your child is older, he can practice his handwriting through writing stories.

Here are some lined papers your child may recognize from school to help him write his letters or stories. Download and print as many as you would like to give your child some writing practice.

Writing Practice Sheet 1

Writing Practice Sheet 2

Alphabet Sheet

Feature photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.