Even in this technological age of emails, texts and tweets, putting pen to paper stimulates the brain like nothing else. Learning to write in cursive has been shown to improve brain development in the areas of motor control, thinking, language, emotions and working memory.
Cursive writing, more than printing, stimulates brain synapses between the right and left sides of the brain, building both the physiological and the psychological links within the brain. These neurological connections help young children to build the foundation skills for reading, spelling and comprehension, as well as creative thought and expression. Research shows that children who learn cursive writing benefit the most, especially in the areas of spelling, memory, text construction and thought formation.
Teaching our children to master cursive writing from the very beginning enables them to benefit from these enhanced neurological connections; and to layer foundation skills within the brain’s automatic systems, so they can benefit from the following improvements in their learning:
1. Improved reading skills.
As children progress in their reading, they should begin to read whole words, rather than individual letters. Cursive writing promotes whole word reading. After words, children will move onto reading sentences. Greater fluency when reading improves comprehension and learning.
2. Reduced reversal and confusion of letters.
Letters that look similar are often muddled up and reversed by children who learn to write using printed letters first. Letters such as ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘f’ and ‘t’, ‘g’, ‘q’ and ‘p’ are the most commonly confused letters. The consistency of the start and end point in cursive writing helps children to learn the directionality of the letters earlier. The animal categories used in the Think Write programme offer additional learning tools to help childrenmaster directionality for letter formation.
3. Enhanced spelling ability.
Young children start to spell phonetically or using sounds to help them build words. However, the English language does not remain this simple for long and children soon have to use their visual memory to remember what words ‘look like’. Cursive writing develops at around the same time and the motor memory for the ‘feel’ of words supports and enhances children’s spelling, especially from year 2 onwards, when children are starting to express their own ideas on paper.
4. Minimised erratic spaces between letters and words.
The linking of letters together supports the development of motor memories for the spelling, formation and size of letters and words within sentences. Children learn to naturally ‘break’ the letters between the words. In the continuous cursive script there are fewer stop/start movements in the hands, helping children to learn to judge the spaces between letters within a word, and between words within a sentence.
5. Development of internal control system as a tool for learning.
As discussed in the article’ ‘The Neurological Benefits of Cursive Writing’, learning to write in cursive script from the beginning builds an internal control system that incorporates movement, sensation and visual skills; layering skills together to form a complex network of neural connections. These networks link to and associate with other forms of learning, helping to underpin the organisation of other kinds of information and skills.
6. Enhanced skills for patterns in reading and writing.
Unlike print writing, lower case cursive writing uses the same start point for each letter. The continuity of the starting position reduces the tendency to invert and reverse letters when writing, building a motor memory for the shape, length and sequencing of words. An internal system builds memories for the shape, length and sequence of letters, supporting the development of reading and spelling.
7. Improved speed and control for putting thought to paper.
When children write too slowly, they cannot remember all their ideas; some are forgotten before they have a chance to write them down. If taught effectively, cursive writing can automise motor movements, leaving a child with more time available to concentrate on creative ideas.
Let’s not be hasty to eliminate opportunities for young children to develop their cognition and learn skills and work habits that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Let’s teach children cursive writing from the very beginning and make it fun, by using a tried and tested structure such as the Hemispheres Think Write Handwriting Programme for schools and parents.
To find out more about the Think Write programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit the website www.thinkwrite-learning.co.uk