Raise your hand if you have ever written something in cursive.🙋♀️ Now keep your hand up if a child has asked what you just wrote because they couldn’t read cursive. I’m envisioning lots of hands in the air right now. 🙋♀️
Although cursive handwriting is not required by the Common Core Standards, many parents and teachers believe in the importance of students learning how to read and write in cursive. In fact, some states that have developed their own standards in response to Common Core have decided to add that back in. You might be wondering why students should learn to read and write in cursive. Or maybe you already think it is important, but you want to have some research to support you! Let’s chat about it.
Cursive & the Brain
Let’s talk about the brain. There is a vital hand/brain connection when students use their hands to explore and interact with the world. In an article published by Psychology Today, The Importance of Handwriting Instruction, the research supports the teaching of cursive in classrooms. Some key points from this article:
- Early handwriting skills help children learn to read. However, keyboarding does not have the same effect.
- Writing by hand is indispensable to help children develop a brain that reads with proficiency. It helps to create brain pathways to better understand language.
- Research shows that learning to write by hand is a key component in improving both spelling ability and written composition.
5 Brain-Based Reasons to Teach Handwriting in School, also from Psychology Today, encourages cursive education in classrooms still further noting that research shows that learning to write by hand is a key component in improving both spelling ability and written composition.
Benefits of Learning Cursive
There are some wonderful developmental benefits for students when they learn cursive. (from Should Children Still Learn Cursive Handwriting? and By What Age Are Most Children Ready to Master Cursive Writing?)
Develops Motor Skills:
Writing by hand helps children develop motor skills. Cursive extends the level of understanding about how letters are formed. For example, in a 2012 study, researchers concluded “…that improved handwriting skills have benefits for cognitive development and motor skills and can lead to improved writing skills and reading comprehension.”
“Not only does cursive activate areas of the brain that are not affected by keyboarding, but it also helps children develop skills in reading, spelling, composition, memory and critical thinking.”
Learning how to read and write in the English language in another form provides another opportunity for students to understand the alphabet. It gives students a better understanding of how letters are formed. In fact, it could even improve their print.
Ability to Read and Write with Legal Documents:
We all know we are able to sign legal documents electronically. However, the ability to print and sign your name is a part of life that makes you a little more mature. Even at the elementary level, haven’t you given a document to your students that required your students to sign their name? Hello, Student Code of Conduct! Have you seen the beam of confidence from those students who are, in fact, able to sign their name in cursive. There’s a level of confidence and sophistication that comes with being able to write in cursive.
Being able to confidently work with a legal document is important. While it may seem a little premature to have students worry about working with legal documents, consider this: Once students leave elementary school, teaching cursive most likely will not be a priority in their middle school classrooms. These teachers will expect (understandably so) that students will have already learned this skill. Writing and signing checks is also necessary as students get older. In many curriculums, 5th graders learn how to write a check and sign their name.
How do you teach cursive?
Most likely you did not learn how to teach cursive writing in college. But that’s okay! When it comes to best practices, you can think about effective teaching strategies for teaching writing in general. Yet, there are some nuances specific to teaching cursive writing.
1. Start with teacher modeling. Children at about a third grade level or 8 years old are typically developmentally ready to learn cursive. Children this age often can print their letters proficiently. They have the fine motor skills necessary to start learning cursive.
2. Teach handwriting directly and explicitly. Begin by teaching one cursive letter at a time. Practice the letter slowly and consistently. First, teach the lower case letters of the alphabet. Grouping the letters by formation and pattern difficulty can help students. Second, teach the lower case letters of the alphabet.
3. Reinforce your teaching by having your students copy simple sentences. Coach, support, and praise students as they form each letter.
4. Create a routine. Once students have learned how to write letters, create a routine in which students are regularly practicing writing in cursive. Having them write their spelling words or free write in cursive are great ways to practice handwriting. This cursive journal is a great addition to morning work, homework, or an early finisher task.
Make it fun!
Learning how to write in cursive is very exciting and fun for children! There’s a certain rite of passage when they find out that they will, in fact, be learning how to write in cursive. It’s so fancy! Here are some ways to make it even more engaging for your students:
- Use special pens or pencils for them to practice.
- Create special journals for their cursive writing.
- Encourage cursive writing in stations or free write times.
- Ask students to do final drafts of poetry or captions in cursive.
- Introduce cursive writing as a special code that comes with maturity, students are always excited to grow up faster than we want them to!
- Create a mail delivery system between yourself and your students where cursive is the only communication means acceptable.
If you are looking for a place to start your cursive journey with your students, check out my Cursive Handwriting Journal! You can click the link below to grab a free sample.
Or if you are ready to get cursive handwriting started in your own classroom, you can grab this bundle.
Cursive Handwriting Journal
What is included?
- Lower Case Letters (26 pages)
- Upper Case Letters (26 pages)
- Letter formation (A-Z) (26 pages)
- Gross Facts (18 pages)
- Healthy Facts (16 pages)
- Science Facts (20 pages)
- Animal Facts (24 pages)
- Jokes & Puns (26 pages)
- Months of the Year (12 pages
- Days of the Week (7 pages)
When can you use this resource?
- morning work
- literacy centers
- word work
- writing centers
- before/after lunch or recess
Ready to shop the Cursive Writing Journal?
- 👩💻 Website: Click here!
- 🍏TpT: Click here!
- 🖥 TLL Membership: Click here to log in or learn more! (The Literacy Loft Membership is your all-access pass to every resource I have ever created at one affordable monthly or annual price.)
Happy Teaching! ✏️📓