Although Common Core fails to include cursive handwriting and replaces it with keyboarding, many states are returning to a requirement that children learn to write. Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee include cursive in their curriculum for the 2015-16 school year. A Washington state legislator is trying to bring back cursive. One district in Ohio snuck cursive writing in under the guise of art curriculum. (IndependentJournalReview.com, 1-27-16)
Some districts and classroom teachers won’t let schoolchildren write in cursive and demand that they print. But children who learn the skill of writing in cursive are proven to be better readers, spellers, and thinkers. The physical act of forming and connecting letters helps the brain process and make sense of information. Keyboarding has no similar benefit.
In states or districts that fail to teach children to properly write, parents can fill in the gaping hole by making certain their children are fully educated, including having the ability to quickly and fluidly record their ideas on paper. Parents can teach children handwriting at home.
The Zaner-Bloser Handwriting series is a good place to start. Parents could move students through every Zaner- Bloser book if they wish, but many students will be able to skip right from the kindergarten book to Grade 2C, which includes some printing review then moves into cursive basics.
Most parents will find the teacher edition of the Zaner-Bloser books unnecessary. Their website suggests 15 minutes of daily practice forming letters but parents often find it difficult to keep their children from moving quickly through their handwriting books. It is helpful to provide three-line manuscript paper for additional practice because children enjoy exercising their skills.
These books can be purchased at the Zaner-Bloser website or through homeschool resources like the Rainbow Resource Center. Unused copies can sometimes be found at resale sites.
Another program that some might find useful is CursiveLogic. Linda Shrewsbury was helping adults learn to write when she realized that “each letter seemed to fit into one of four distinct categories.” She calls them “oval, loop, swing, and mound.” To help students learn quickly, she developed Cursive-Logic, a 96-page, full-color workbook that contains both parent/teacher instructions and student practice pages for the price of $29. (CursiveLogic.com)
The gift of handwriting holds proven cognitive, neurological, comprehension, and artistic benefits for children. Despite shortsighted policymakers who eliminate handwriting from schools, parents can step in with supplemental work at home to set their children up for success.