Should Students be Taught Cursive Handwriting in the 21st Century?

In a world that is progressively become more and more digital, there have been many arguments regarding the value of teaching children handwriting skills, let alone cursive handwriting. However, as we have covered in previous articles, just as there are benefits to retaining handwriting skills, there are also benefits for preserving the art of cursive handwriting:

  • It improves brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory. Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing. – New York Times
  • We know that printing by hand is good for the brain. Cursive writing, therefore, should be even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation. – Psychology Today
  • Learning cursive in the first grade helps students:
    • It avoids backward letters
    • There are no problems with spacing between letters and words

See also: Biological and Psychological Benefits of Learning Cursive.

Pros and cons of cursive - Educents Blog

The Arguments for Teaching Cursive

  • Cursive writing is an integral part of working with students who have dyslexia. Because all letters in cursive start on a base line, and because the pen moves fluidly from left to right, cursive is easier to learn for dyslexic students who have trouble forming words correctly. – Deborah Spear, an academic therapist in Great Falls.
  • Neat handwriting can lead to better grades in school. In one study, they found that children with neater handwriting developed better reading and math skills than their chicken-scratch peers. – Laura Dinehart, an education professor at Florida International University.
  • SAT essays written in cursive received a slightly higher score than those with block print (albeit only 15 percent of the essays were written in cursive). – 2006 College Board report.
  • Learning cursive is developmentally beneficial for a young developing brain. Learning cursive provides crucial benefit to children at an age when they need it most: a sense of involvement and ownership, hand-eye coordination, patience, and self-control. – William Klemm, neuroscientist.

See also: Brain research and cursive writing.

Cursive - Educents Blog

Download FREE cursive handwriting worksheets on Educents!

The Argument Against Teaching Cursive

  • What I typically hear for keeping cursive is how nice it is when you receive a beautifully cursive-written letter. It’s like a work of art. It’s pretty, but is that a reason for keeping something, given that we do less and less of those kinds of cards anymore? The cost for teaching cursive is precious time – why teach two forms of writing when one will do the trick? Something’s gotta give. – Steve Graham, an education professor at Arizona State University and one of the top U.S. experts on handwriting instruction.
  • According to Bloomberg View, the reasons for teaching cursive are flawed:
    • There’s an argument that new generations must master cursive in order to read their forebears’ cursive documents. Yet students who can read print can be taught to read cursive in as little as an hour without spending the months of practice necessary to master formation of the loopy, connected letters of cursive.
    • There’s also an argument that cursive writing bestows benefits to the brain. This is far from established science. Some of the cited research actually deals with any writing by hand, including printing, while some is simply insubstantial. Even if it were clear that cursive writing somehow stimulates the brain, that’s not a reason to teach it. Plenty of activities arouse the brain — meditation, learning to use a slide rule, playing Sudoku.
    • Noting that students who wrote their SAT essays in cursive score slightly higher than those who printed them, proponents of cursive instruction conclude that the cursive writers wrote more quickly and efficiently and could thus focus better on the substance of their writing. Perhaps. In this digital age, however, the better question is why anyone is still writing SAT essays out longhand.
  • In short, students have more important things to learn with their time than to waste it learning an obsolete art form.

Handwriting Resources for Kids

Are you an educator or parent who wants to spend time teaching your kids how to write in cursive? If so, these resources from Educents will make it a lot more easy and FUN to learn cursive.

Super Cursive Freebie - Educents Blog

Web Learning Resources for Kids

Online learning is becoming even more important for the next generations. Educents also has affordable resources that helps children develop their typing and coding skills.

Writing Programs - Educents Blog

  • Learn to Mod with Minecraft – Did you know kids can learn how to code by modifying (or “modding”) Minecraft®? Kids learn how to code in Java® and apply it to Minecraft® themed problems!
  • The WriteWell App – A simple and intuitive web-based tool that makes writing fun and effective. With its unique visual and tactile interface and library of interactive essay templates, WriteWell is a convenient tool for teachers and students at home or in the classroom.
  • Handwriting Worksheet Wizard – StartWrite helps teachers, homeschoolers, and parents create handwriting lessons quickly and easily. This program saves hours in lesson preparation time, yet allows you to easily create fun, meaningful worksheet to teach handwriting.

Related Articles on Handwriting:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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