Cursive handwriting has been an art for centuries. When it comes to children first learning to write, cursive lettering can make the complex skill more accessible too.
However, cursive writing skills have been in decline. It can seem no longer relevant in a contemporary society where keyboards and print lettering is pervasive. Children are encountering the single print alphabet in a more ubiquitous fashion too, through electronics, screen time and a decline in handwritten communications.
Parents and guardians with young preschool children may also think cursive is too tough a starting point. Primarily due to how cursive has been traditionally approached after the single print alphabet is mastered. So cursive is assumed to be is innately more complex and difficult for young children to learn.
Yet we are more knowledgeable about writing development in children. Our teaching practices are changing as a result. Historically, writing development or Graphomotor skills have not been a well researched topic. We have not known what are the optimal teaching practices. So without emprical knowledge to draw upon, we have not had science to guide best practice.
This has changed considerably within the last ten years. We can now find numerous empirical studies discussing how different handwriting styles (traditionally manuscript/cursive, manuscript, and cursive) have different effects on writing development (speed, quality, word production, and writing communication). Cursive, in particular, has been shown in numerous studies to have more beneficial qualities, and ironically, be easier not harder for some children to grasp.
Cursive is about finding flow. The movement and continuous patterns of cursive writing can be easier than discontinue start/ stop movements where the pencil and motor process is broken. This particularly makes sense to some observant caregivers too, who note young children like the dynamic flow of continuous mark making, seen in swirls, circles and ongoing movements.
Cursive has been found to be especially helpful for children who may experience writing difficulties or do not seem to master handwriting easily. The opposite of how cursive has been often assumed. However, these findings wouldn’t surprise Maria Montessori.
Dr Montessori believed there was an important correlation between movement and hand-eye coordination. Embracing this dynamic inter-relationship was always key to learning to write. Montessori schools still like to teach language and letters through movement and the senses too. In ‘ The Discovery of the Child’ (1948), Montessori highlights how motor mechanisms and movement can nurture critical thought and intellect. Meaning by finding flow and movement in writing, children could more easily begin to think about the content of the text.
Yet even in 1948, she noted the changing landscape of handwriting. Montessori commented how machines of her own era, could easily substitute the skill of handwriting itself. However, she believed the co-relational critical thinking skills and blossoming intellect which florish in the act of writing, could be undernurtured as a result. Reminding us there is a deep value to writing skills than those we might see evident.
Therefore finding optimal ways that best suit each child, is an investment in their future. Not only in terms of supporting children to learn to write, but more importantly, what they write about too. Bring forth a passion and pleasure in communicating with others that is life long.
To help with writing skills, I produce a range of traditional precursive, cursive and single print alphabets boards. Each board is independently CE certified from 12months + and can be safely used when children first show an interest in letters age 2-3 years. The design of each board can be customised and the letters tweaked to show certain characteristics that may be key in your learning region. Please just ask 🙂
Semeraro, C et.al (2019) Teaching of cursive writing in the first year of ordinary school effect on reading and writing skills
Bara F., Morin M. F., Alamargot D and Bosse M. L (2016) Learning different allographs through handwriting: The impact on letter knowledge and reading acquisition. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 88–94.
(Pdf available via Google)
Bo J., Barta J., Ferencak H., Comstock S., Riley V and Krueger J (2014) Developmental characteristics in cursive and printed letter-writing for school-age children. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 2(1), 1–8.
Pontart V., Bidet-Ildei C., Lambert E., Morisset P., Flouret L and Alamargot D (2013) Influence of handwriting skills during spelling in primary and lower secondary grades. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 818.
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