Teaching Handwriting in the Digital Age: Is it Worth it?

by Christy Griffith, TLC Occupational Therapist

In the age of technology with kids texting, clicking, and typing on a computer from a young age, do we really need to continue focusing on teaching good handwriting?  Many schools have decreased their focus on teaching this skill, and many no longer teach cursive letters at all. However, current research shows that handwriting is still a crucial skill and offers great advantages to those children who do practice and master both printing and cursive writing.

Here are some of the top reasons to make sure your child learns to write properly by hand:

It improves their brains. Research has shown that children  who have formal handwriting training learn their letters faster,  have improved language fluency, and  their acquired knowledge becomes more stable. Handwriting training also helps coordinate the right and left sides of the brain, stimulates intelligence, and builds pathways in the brain that improve mental effectiveness. Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding does. Children who received structured handwriting instruction and practice regularly had brain scans that looked more similar to an adult’s than their peers who did not participate in handwriting instruction.

  • Cursive handwriting is faster. Studies show that cursive handwriting is faster than printing or keyboarding, so allows children to write better. Research has shown that elementary students tend to write more complete sentences, give longer answers, and complete their work more quickly when they use cursive writing. High school and college students can take notes during class lectures faster as well.
     
  • It improves the memory and understanding of content. Just the physical act of writing something down, whether it is a list, a sticky note to ourselves, or notes in class, improves our ability to remember what we wrote down.  And when our handwriting is efficient and effortless, we can focus more on the content of what we are writing rather than the physical act of forming the letters. This comes with lots of practice, which is not always provided in school to the necessary levels.
     
  • Some things still require handwriting, like taking notes in some classes, exams such as SAT still have essay portions that are completed by hand, some college professors and teachers still require handwritten assignments, tasks such as writing checks, medical prescriptions, quick lists or reminder notes, etc. are usually still completed by hand. Legibility is very important for these types of tasks.  Students score higher grades and test scores when teachers can easily read their handwriting.  

At TLC, our preschool classrooms offer age appropriate pre-writing activities in fun, multisensory ways to introduce letters, drawing and writing to children. Our teachers utilize the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum as well.  On-site occupational therapists help children learn to write both print and cursive, and improve handwriting delays in children ages 5-12.