By Elaine Charal
Keeping in the Loop
Ontario’s Curriculum from Grades 1 through 3 is abundant in concepts and ideals, but does not elaborate when it comes to specifics for teaching handwriting. The Curriculum has a section for each grade about ‘writing’ but there is no longer an expectation that students will be expected to fluently cursive write by Grade 3. The closest reference to specifics (which sounds vague) was to the effect that the process of writing is up to the teacher’s assessment in relation to the students (and they do not indicate whether students are to use printing or cursive writing).
While there are those who are quick to dismiss cursive writing, many parents and private schools are at the opposite end of the spectrum, believing that cursive writing is a necessary skill to be taught to their children. Those who cannot afford a private school must turn to tutors or home schooling if they want their child to learn cursive writing.
Enrollment in a private school is not a guarantee that your child will learn cursive. A coupe of short years ago, Handwriting Analyst Elaine Charal did two events for a private school in North York at a father/daughter evening, where the girls were about 15 years old. The father’s writing was dynamic and full of energy. The daughters’ writing was virtually the same (shades of the Stepford movie): all strictly printed, with a dominant lowercase letter area and virtually no upper or lower loops. Each had an ‘immature’ look.
Many choose to print because they say it is faster than cursive. Cursive comes from the past participle of the Latin word ‘currere’, which means “to run’. In cursive handwriting, the letters all run into one another and the hand runs across the page, never lifting between letters. (dictionary definition)
Benefits of Cursive Writing
Hand-eye coordination is a major developmental feature of cursive writing, creating new brain circuitry to evaluate what is seen and the speed and timing of movements. This circuitry then becomes a lasting part of the brain and can be recruited for use in other hand-eye coordination tasks.
Letter and word recognition, comprehension and memory are shown to improve with cursive writing. Research ascribes flexible handwriting movements to the evolution of human perspectives, thought and speech capabilities, and also to developing deep feelings of confidence and interest in the world altogether. Letter and word recognition, comprehension, abstract thought and memory are shown to improve with cursive writing, therefore making learning faster and more efficient in areas from reading and writing to matching and music.
Written note-taking produces much higher rates of comprehension and information retention in lectures and group meetings. Neural development increases and expands in areas of language, memory, word recognition and emotion with handwriting.
Knowing cursive writing enables students to read handwritten comments made by teachers on assignments or other materials written in cursive.
Typing on a keyboard is not the same kind of physiological process as handwriting. A different part of the brain is activated for keyboard typing that does not have the rich connections found in the areas of the brain activated by handwriting. Research has shown that neural connections are developed and strengthened when children write in longhand. MRI studies have shown that, compared to handwriting, typewriting activated fewer brain areas used for language, spatial, visual and temporal perceptions in both children and adults and, in addition, handwriting has been proposed as a useful exercise to slow the cognitive effects of aging.
Research has shown that students who use cursive handwriting for a significant portion of their written work generate more words of higher quality and use better syntax than writers who print.
A study of college students taking notes during lectures showed that those who hand-wrote lecture notes outperformed those who typed notes during lectures.
It has been found that dyslexic students learn cursive writing more easily than the stop-and-start motions of printing because all letters in cursive start on a base line, and because the pen moves fluidity from left to right.
A few more advantages: Cursive writing promotes manipulation and finger isolation skills. People still judge the quality of written ideas by penmanship. Cursive actually requires less carpal bone development than printing or even typing.
National Handwriting Day was started to re- introduce one’s self to a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, it is a chance for all to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting. Time to go practice!
Elaine’s “Power of the Pen” talk is perfect as a team-building activity — guaranteed to have everyone laughing and learning how to communicate more effectively with fellow team members and clients through knowing what the strokes of Handwriting mean. Elaine’s talk is positive and fun: Having received Handwriting Samples from your Team before the talk, Elaine will bring one-page Handwriting Profiles and make one or two positive, strength-related comments about each Team member at the end of the talk. Call Lori Dalton today at (416) 318-1503 to book Elaine for your next event!