Cursive writing is no longer a part of many schools’ curriculum, and that has many parents upset. In an increasingly digital world, others are wondering what relevance that has in our lives and in the lives of our children.
The argument can be made that cursive doesn’t really exist in our daily world anymore: content that we consume and produce - especially across digital and print publications - is print based, and that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. So really, is there a point in teaching our kids to write in script, just for the sake of sending thank you notes to aunties and uncles after Christmas?
Yes. SO MUCH yes.
I’m teaching my kids the art of cursive writing at home.
The thing about cursive is that it’s more than just the writing itself. It’s about even more than engaging with beauty for its own sake and honouring cultural traditions that came before us. It’s about taking the time to slow down and connecting our bodies with what our minds are doing.
Drawing on my background in childhood education, I can tell you that, on a very basic level, learning to write (and read) in cursive is easier for young children. Many private schools (Montessori, for example) teach cursive before print.
Why? In print, a, b, d, p, and q are basically the same shape - a circle and a stick - with different orientations. For most children this on its own is confusing enough; for children with any kind of learning difference, or an exception to how they perceive spatial awareness and patterning, this “same, same but different” 5-in-1 letter combo can prove to be beyond challenging, and cause an aversion to reading and writing.
In cursive, each letter has a unique shape that distinguishes itself form the other 25 characters in or alphabet, making it a lot easier to differentiate which letter is which, facilitating ease, speed, and confidence.
Young children under the age of six are in a unique stage of their physical motor development, both fine and gross. The act of holding a pencil can be challenging for little hands, especially with the constant stop / start / make a shape that underpins writing in print. The very graceful, sweeping, flow nature of cursive allows those same hands to relax their bodies, and follow the sweeping, swooping letters that better suits their natural state of development.
It’s been said that the hand is the instrument of the mind, and handwriting analysts will tell you just how much of your personality is revealed through your writing. The fact that our computers don’t require cursive of us doesn't mean there is a reason that we should abandon it altogether. The slow and graceful nature of cursive, and all that it does for the development of our attention to detail in the world around us, is a valuable art that we need to keep alive in the education of our children’s minds – if not at school, then for sure at home.
We can’t ever lose sight of the very human parts of us that remain constant across time, space, and technology. Cursive writing is one of those parts, allowing us to communicate to the world what our mind is thinking and creating - regardless of the devices we do or do not have access to; it keeps this fundamental human tendency well nourished. Does it mean I won’t give them the tools they need to communicate in a digital space? Of course not; it means I’m giving them the advantage of learning how to use the natural resources that fuel their development and creativity on top of it. I am championing raising analog girls within our digital world, so that they have the full spectrum of knowledge and ability in their roster of skills.