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Why I'm Teaching My Kids Cursive

Photograph by Monica Olivera

A few years ago, while wandering the aisles of the grocery store, I had one of those eye-opening experiences regarding my children's education. My son, who had recently learned to read, picked up my grocery list and frowned.

"Mama, what language is this? I can't read any of it," he said.

I was startled because he had proven — so far — to be an exceptional reader. Then I looked down and realized that I'd written my list in cursive. Up until that point in our homeschooling lessons, my children had only learned how to read and write in print.

In 2013, 41 states no longer required their public schools to teach cursive literacy. As Common Core State Standards mania has swept the country over the last few years, certain subjects (such as cursive) that were not included in the standards have been altogether abandoned in some schools.

January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. Why not celebrate all month long with daily or weekly practice? Wouldn't it be great if your child could write his or her name in cursive by then?

I can't help but think back to all the amazing documents, handwritten letters from family (living and passed), historic memorabilia and more that I've read in my life. My beloved 'Buelita has been gone almost 30 years now, but when I close my eyes, I can still see her handwriting and signature clearly in my head. It is one of those memories that I hope I'll treasure until I pass away, too.

How sad would it be if my children never had the opportunity to experience moments like these for themselves? Therefore, cursive literacy has a place in their education. What better way to make history come alive than to actually read some of the original documents and letters written during our nation's birth? Or what if, some day, after my husband and I have passed away, our children find the cache of love letters I've saved from when we were dating? Wouldn't it be sad if they couldn't read them?

I remember reading that a 19-year-old friend of Trayvon Martin (remember the Florida teen shot and killed by George Zimmerman?) couldn't read one of the documents a lawyer handed her in the courtroom because it was written in cursive. While I get that technology is the preferred medium of communication, I find it imperative that my kids develop their ability to read and write in cursive in addition to learning how to type, read a text, and fill out a form. Will checks still be around when they are old enough to manage a checking account? I don't know, but if they are, I can assure you my kids will know how to sign their names in cursive at the bottom.

In addition to the practical applications of cursive literacy, there are also the mental benefits. If I hadn't already been sold on it before, I would certainly have been racing to break out the paper and pencils after I read that learning cursive affects the brain and improves skills such as memory, the ability to focus, cognitive development, and more.

January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. Why not celebrate all month long with daily or weekly practice? Wouldn't it be great if your child could write his or her name in cursive by then?

If your child's school doesn't teach cursive or you want to supplement your child's learning at home, below is a list of my favorite resources for parents, available in both English and Spanish!

1. Handwriting Without Tears

This is hands down the best curriculum available for parents and educators alike. I've used it with my own children with great results. HWT has recently launched a Spanish line as well for bilingual and Spanish-language homeschoolers.

2. Zaner-Bloser

Not to be outdone, Zaner-Bloser has also created quality materials in both English and Spanish.

3. Donna Young

One of my favorite homeschooling go-to websites is DonnaYoung.org because it has so many wonderful templates available for download. Check out her Cursive Handwriting Lessons.

4. HandwritingWorksheets.com

Working on a budget? Create your own worksheets using this free online tool! The site lets you create both print and cursive worksheets, and I love that the cursive words flow well and are seamlessly connected (some other worksheet creators have disjointed cursive fonts). It also perfectly creates Spanish words with correct accents and punctuation.

Photograph by Monica Olivera
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