What Learning Cursive Does for Your Brain

Cursive Writing Makes Children Smarter.
Gone are the days when we adults went to school, one of the first things we learned was how to write the alphabet, in capitals and lower case, and then to hand-write words, sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Some of us were lucky enough to have handwriting classes where we learned how to make our writing pretty and readable. Thanks to the Waldorf Schools- this is given optimum importance in the present-day scenario too and cursive writing is introduced in grade 3.

Today, keyboarding is in, where it is no longer required for elementary students to learn cursive, and some schools are dropping the teaching of cursive, dismissing it as an “ancient skill.”

Cursive is introduced in the third grade. Scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization,” that is capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.

There is spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. Students have to pay attention and think about what and how they are doing it. They have to practice. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that otherwise does not happen in keyboarding.

Much of the benefit of hand writing in general comes simply from the self-generated mechanics of drawing letters. The brain’s “reading circuit” of linked regions that are activated during reading was activated during hand writing, but not during typing. It has also been demonstrated that writing letters in meaningful context, as opposed to just writing them as drawing objects, produced much more robust activation of many areas in both hemispheres of the brain.

In learning to write by hand, even if it is just printing, a child’s brain must:

  • Locate each stroke relative to other strokes.
  • Learn and remember appropriate size, slant and feature detail characteristic of each letter.
  • Develop categorization skills.

Cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and requires visual recognition. Cursive is also faster and more likely to engage students by providing a better sense of personal style and ownership.

Other research highlights the hand’s unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Research shows that children in middle grade school that revealed they wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard. There is a whole field of research known as “haptics,” which includes the interactions of touch, hand movements, and brain function. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity.

The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument. Not everybody can afford music lessons, but everybody has access to pencil and paper. Not for long will the online education continue, lets encourage to take to pen and paper.

Slogan is “Save the pencil and paper.”

Like we celebrate Friendship Day, let’s celebrate Handwriting Day, by practicing Handwriting and Calligraphy too.