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The Smart Reason to Teach Kids Cursive Writing

Photograph by Twenty20

"Our children won't be able to read the Declaration of Independence!" That is one of the standard arguments from the pro-cursive team, an argument that pops up from time to time and one I just heard from my daughter's fourth-grade teacher.

At her school, they announced that they would be putting extra emphasis on cursive at a time when most schools nationwide are doing the opposite, cutting out cursive all together. While many of my friends (online and off) argue that it is a dying form of penmanship, one that isn't currently supported by the Common Core and a form of communication that should go the way of dinosaurs and acid wash jeans, I'm all for keeping up with the old school way of writing.

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When I'm taking furious freehand notes, when I am penning a get well soon card or a thoughtful note on a birthday card, I always use cursive. Printing not only makes my hand tense up but also takes far more time for each letter separately instead of letting them flow together like a beautiful stream of thoughts. And don't even get me started on the impersonal touch a type written birthday card has.

When I was in grade school, I loved learning and fine-tuning my cursive skills. I'd practice anytime I could. I was so enamored with the form that I actually wanted to change my middle name to start with an L just so I could have that visceral satisfaction of the letter's whoosh whenever I signed my name. In third grade, for approximately six months, I was Sunny Lee.

My daughter is having the same reaction as I did (although she hasn't brought up adding a new middle name just for the sake of penmanship—yet). She loves the way the ink flows from the pen when writing. She likes the lingering, relaxing vibe that cursive makes her feel.

But it's not just that kids won't be able to read the Declaration of Independence or letters from their grandma.

And, thanks to her school, she feels that it is making her smarter.

When they began to teach her class cursive in second grade, the teachers explained to them the benefits, including one that really stuck with her: They shared a study about how the brain lights up when writing with pen to paper rather than using a keyboard and that it leads to more creative thinking.

With the current Common Core State Standards, not only is cursive not taught but handwriting is not covered at all after second grade.

"If you stop teaching handwriting in the second grade, you're going to have a generation of people who write like second graders," says the founder of Handwriting Without Tears (a company that focuses on training cursive).

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But it's not just that kids won't be able to read the Declaration of Independence or letters from their grandma. "Without it [cursive handwriting] you lose the sense of having your thought process through your hand movements to create your language and thoughts to someone else," says Michael Sull, a master penman and expert on handwriting. "There is a great loss in the progress that could be made with children fostering their motor skill development, literacy training and concepts of communication."

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