Cursive Writing and Why Losing this Skill is Relevant

Many parents considering a change to homeschooling outline in discussions I have with them the skills and subjects that have fallen by the wayside in the public school system. They lament the fact that schools teach to the test so much that children don’t have time to internalize new math skills and can get left behind when it comes to reading comprehension. Cursive writing, the middle of the three R’s, is no longer taught at all in the public school system and this does not seem to hit most parent’s radar as relevant. Is this because as adults we live in an age where we use technology to write and communicate so much that we don’t think twice about the fact we are not putting pen to paper anymore? We should think about this and realize its importance as a learning tool.

Recent research states that 75% of children under the age of 8 and 40% of children under the age of 2 use tablets routinely. With the availability of this technology you might say why bother to learn to print or write in cursive. Certainly it is easier for a teacher to read a typed assignment but we surrender useful learning tools and curtail creativity by doing so. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has now found that using tablets and reducing time with pen, pencils and paper is also having negative physical effects on young children. Hand-eye coordination is suffering and muscle strength is also declining. Research has shown that children and adults who write manually usually spell better and have better reading skills. Putting an idea on paper manually has also been shown to make the material “come to life” and be more easily recalled for future use. Remember that studies regarding the effects of prolonged technology use in children are in their infancy and the long-term effects as these children grow to adulthood won’t be known for years.

What we do see is that children are losing ground in many academic areas and the many changes in the education system have only seemed to deepen this problem. As a homeschooling family do not be afraid to put down the tablets and calculators and rely on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic aided with pen, pencil and paper along with your creative brainpower. Think about how we can encourage our children to rely on their intelligence first and then use technology as an aid.

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