More Than a Flourish: Cursive Handwriting and Your Child’s Brain

Many years ago students had to put quill to paper in order to produce essays.  Letters were made with beautiful flourishes, and children were cautioned to be careful not to drip their ink on their work. 

We’ve come a long way from those days.

Today, educators debate about whether to teach children how to write in cursive.  Many people think that cursive handwriting is unnecessary and old-fashioned.  It isn’t even required in the Core Curriculum standards.

So, what are the benefits of learning cursive?  The first - and, perhaps, most important - is that it sparks higher cognitive development.  Cursive and printed handwriting access different parts of the brain.  Cursive handwriting stimulates the connection between the brain’s two hemispheres: the right hemisphere (often thought to house more creative processes) and the left (the more “logical” side).  Cursive handwriting also activates the brain’s “reading circuit,” so that reading comprehension and concept retention are improved.  Printing, typing, and keyboarding don’t activate and stimulate the brain in these ways.

Studies have shown that more ideas are expressed when a child is writing in cursive than when printing or typing - and that cursive leads to improved skills like planning, ideation, punctuation, grammar, and even better test results.

And, amazingly, cursive actually improves children’s self-esteem.  The simple exercise of writing a letter in cursive wakes up the limbic area of the brain, which is the area that promotes self-esteem and filters information for emotional relationships.  A child who practices cursive will feel better about him/herself and will tend to behave in a more adult-like way.

Cursive is more than just handwritten flourishes — it’s a beneficial and important skill for your child’s cognitive development!  Call us at Tutored Talent to find out more and how to help your child succeed.

Some recommended reading:

Berninger, V. “Evidence-Based, Developmentally Appropriate Writing Skills K-5:  Teaching the Orthographic Loop of Working Memory to Write Letters os Developing Writers Can Spell Words and Express Ideas.”  Presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century?” An Educational Summit, Washington D.C., January 23, 2012.

Doverspike, J. “Ten Reasons People Still Need Cursive.” The Federalist.com, February 25, 2015.  http://thefederalist.com/2015/02/25/ten-reasons-people-still-need-cursive.

“In the States.” 2011.  Common Core State Standards Initiative.  http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states

Klemm, W.R.. “Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter.” Psychology Today, Mar. 14, 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mermory-medic/201303/why-writing-hand-could-make-you-smarter.

Rosenblaum, S., Weiss, P., and Parush, S. 2003. “Product and Process Evaluation of Handwriting Difficulties.” Educational Psychology Review, 15:1, pp. 41-42.

Saperstein Associates. “Handwriting in the 21st Century? Research Shows Why Handwriting Belongs in Today’s Classroom.”  A White Paper presented at An Educational Summit, Washington D.C., January 23, 2012.

Steimetz, K. “Five Reasons Kids Should Still Learn Cursive Writing.” Time Living Education, June 4, 2014. http://time.com/2820780/five-reasons-kids-should-still-learn-cursive-writing/

Sortino, D. “Brain Research and Cursive Writing.” The Press Democrat, May 22,2013. http://davidsortino.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/10221/brain-research-and-cursive-writing/

Zubrzlycki, J. “Summit to Make a Case for Teaching Handwriting. “Education Week, Jan. 23, 2012. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/01/25/18handwriting_ep.h.31.html?qs=cursive