In our last post we discussed all of the components of handwriting and why it is hard. If you missed that, you can find it here.
This week we are going to address a possible cure for those who have a difficult time with handwriting…CURSIVE handwriting!
My child already struggles with handwriting, now you want them to learn cursive? Isn’t it harder to write in cursive? How is this going to be the answer to my child’s handwriting woes?
Let’s look at how cursive may be the cure!
When using print, there are many ways to form the letters. They should be formed from the top down, but many kids write from the bottom up or use multiple strokes to form a letter. With cursive, because you are writing with a continuous stroke, there is only one way to write the letters. It is impossible to write from the bottom up with cursive. It is also harder to reverse letters when writing in cursive. How many kids do you know that constantly reverse those “d”s and “b”s or “p”s and “q”s? When writing in cursive, that continuous stroke makes it nearly impossible to reverse those letters while writing.
Also know writing speed, improves with cursive because you aren’t picking up your pencil when writing. Most people write faster when using cursive than when trying to print the same thing. Try it, write something in cursive and time yourself. Now time yourself writing the same thing in print. See, it really is faster to write in cursive!
Writing in cursive eliminates many of the spacing problems common with handwriting. Since all of the letters in a word are connected, you don’t have to worry about spacing between letters with cursive. When you see a space in the writing, you automatically know that the space indicates a new word. Having the letters connected when writing also makes it easier to make sure the letters are written at the same level, even if they aren’t completely seated on the line of the paper. When one letter stroke starts the next letter, it is much harder to write you letters at different levels.
As you can see, writing in cursive can eliminate many of the issues that make handwriting hard. However, here is the key to making it a successful strategy….IT HAS TO BE TAUGHT! Direct instruction in cursive handwriting to ensure that your child knows the proper letter formation and learns the proper way to connect those letters during writing is crucial to making this a successful strategy. For many of us, the thought of teaching your child to write in cursive is overwhelming. As we write, we tend to develop our own form of handwriting with a combination of cursive and print letters. If you are like me, my first thought is “I would have to teach myself how to properly write in cursive before I could teach my child how to do it.” If you feel that way and want your child to learn cursive because their handwriting needs help, seek out a local occupational therapist. Handwriting, including cursive, is something they can help with.