Penmanship still important skill for kids to have

August 5, 2011 By Laurie Curtis, Kansas State University

Laptops, cellphones, smartphones, tablets. It's becoming an e-world when it comes to messaging, but a Kansas State University education expert says that doesn't mean it's time to put a period to handwriting.

Laurie Curtis, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at K-State, said although penmanship isn't as much of a life skill as it was 20 years ago, children should still be provided explicit opportunities to learn and practice this important skill daily.

"Historically, was considered an art," Curtis said. "It was practiced for several hours a week. I don't think we need to focus on it as much as before because computer literacy is important too, but there are many instances where penmanship is still essential."

When the act of writing is well practiced, less cognitive energy is focused on writing, allowing for the writer to focus on content and information, Curtis said.

"Cursive handwriting allows for in communication," she said. "This type of fluency allows the ability to record ideas quickly and effortlessly."

Curtis also said that all handwriting helps students develop fine motor skills and it reinforces actions like buttoning a shirt or zipping a jacket.

"As young children practice writing, they are using a multisensory pathway to remember the shapes and names of the letters they will need as they learn to read," she said. "Keyboarding, simply poking letters to form words on a screen, doesn't allow children to utilize their to enhance spelling and word comprehension."

Curtis said it's important for children to learn neatness, correct letter formation and spacing. Children also use written communication to provide valuable information to others, such as their name, address and phone number.

"Legible handwriting helps them provide that information accurately," she said. "It also helps succeed in school assignments because good penmanship can directly affect scores on essays, and spelling tests."

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4 comments

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KateGladstone
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation on request.)

Reading cursive still matters -- this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter? [7q]
Exactly. Kids need to be able to make notes. Even on computers (tablets) this can come in handy. But since all other text is not cursive I see no real use for them to learn cursive script (unless they want to dig into hostoric material). Taking notes in block-like groups is perfectly fine.

Seriously, I can't really remember when was the last time I required cursive script (on the job or in private correspondence)
neiorah
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Kate, the Chinese and Japanese have made an art out of both forms of writing for centuries. How cares if you write while printing faster than cursive. The act of handwriting takes patience and effort. It is an art.
neiorah
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
Sorry about the misspelled word.

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