While school systems are removing cursive handwriting from a child’s educational experience, studies show this is unwise and counterproductive to a child’s brain development. In this guest post, Carrie Bailey, Master Books homeschool curriculum author of Catch on to Cursive, shares scientific proof that cursive penmanship provides optimal conditions for learning and is truly a vital part of a great education for your students.
A Scientific Study: One of Many…
Without making this too science-y, let’s look at a study done at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Scientists found that cursive writing and drawing activated brain areas important for memory and the encoding of new information, and therefore, helped “provide the brain with optimal conditions for learning.” This was not seen in the subjects who were typing.
The conclusion they derived was they “suggest that children, from an early age, must be exposed to handwriting and drawing activities in school to establish the neuronal oscillation patterns that are beneficial for learning. … it is vital to maintain both activities in a learning environment to facilitate and optimize learning.” This study found that the areas of the brain engaged during handwriting was greater than when one is typing thus increasing their ability for learning and retention. Even using a digital pen to write on a screen had greater effects on brain engagement than typing on a keyboard.
Cursive Leads to Better Reading and Deeper Brain Thinking
Most of us have heard that handwriting and reading are directly related, but cursive more than print helps students to read more fluently. Cursive allows the student to see the correlation of letters to words and how those words work together in combination to produce ideas.
Cursive activates both hemispheres of the brain thus increasing retention, comprehension, and even fine motor dexterity. The movements and fluidity of cursive causes the body to use deeper structures in the brain. This level of brain work improves thinking, language, and working memory.
Cursive writing also engages the hippocampus and limbic systems. If you are one who likes to take research rabbit trails, these deeper processes are great areas for advanced study.
Cursive Helps Children with Dyslexia
I wish I had a nickel for each parent who has expressed to me concern over their child writing print letters backwards. I could go deep on the science and development of this, but basically, letter perception relies both on global shape and on local feature perception (orientation perception). Think about print letters of ‘b’ and ‘d’ or ‘p’ and ‘q’. These letters are often reversed by students, because our brains interpret global shape before local feature perception. Cursive eliminates this issue and decreases reversals, because the fluidity reduces our need for coding local orientation perception.
Is Cursive Vital to a Great Learning Experience?
Based on science and experience, I will use an analogy of an interstate to describe how cursive increases facets of learning. Just as an interstate with more lanes can handle more vehicles on the path, cursive seems to unlock a four-lane interstate in our brains which provides more access for processes to flow more efficiently. By activating more pathways, the brain can make more connections. More connections always exhibit further retention, deeper learning, engagement, memory (working, long and short-term), and overall academic success.
In conclusion, cursive requires our brains to connect the sensory and perception processes as we write. The science proves the multi-sensory approach involved in cursive penmanship yields higher outcomes for retention, working memory, thinking, and more. That sounds like an excellent learning experience to me!
Meet the Author
Carrie Bailey is a Christian homeschool mom to three boys. She has a degree in early childhood education and has also taught students with special needs in the public school system. Carrie has a passion for helping others on their journey and encouraging other moms.
Homeschool Education Quotes to Share
Love to share what you've learned? Here are three great homeschool education quotes from this post you can share along with the link:
“Cursive more than print helps students to read more fluently.” Carrie Bailey, author of Catch on to Cursive
“Cursive activates both hemispheres of the brain thus increasing retention, comprehension, and even fine motor dexterity.” Carrie Bailey, author of Catch on to Cursive
“Just as an interstate with more lanes can handle more vehicles on the path, cursive seems to unlock a four-lane interstate in our brains which provides more access for processes to flow more efficiently.” Carrie Bailey, author of Catch on to Cursive