Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many school children were receiving less instruction on handwriting, especially cursive writing. But a July 2020 study by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) showed that, despite the move to remote learning and more time spent with screens and keyboards, children (and adults) still benefit from writing in cursive.
The benefits of cursive writing, particularly for students with dyslexia, have been noted for several years. Researchers have found that all students benefit from learning handwriting. It improves hand-eye coordination, boosts memory and stimulates brain development.
Cursive Writing and Dyslexia
Dyslexia Awareness Month offers another opportunity to highlight how handwriting can help students with dyslexia, a learning disability that affects reading, spelling and writing. For these students, learning cursive writing can be the difference between underachievement and a successful academic experience.
Dyslexia is a neurological condition that’s often genetic in origin. It has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who reshaped people’s understanding of the universe, was dyslexic. It is estimated that as many as one in 10 people have this learning disability.
The British Dyslexia Association notes that the continuous flow of cursive writing ultimately improves writing speed. It can also help dyslexics distinguish easily confused letters such as “b,” “d,” “p” and “q.” Because their hands develop a physical memory of the letters while writing, dyslexics can more consistently and correctly reproduce the shapes.
Deborah Spear, a therapist who works with students in McLean, Virginia, says when students connect letters on paper, they see each letter in a way they don’t when typing. “Every handwriting letter is integrated into the letter’s name and that letter’s sound,” she told Voice of America in a 2019 interview.
Given the current trend away from teaching handwriting, what options exist for children have dyslexia? Some parents are filling the gap by turning to private therapy or teaching their children cursive. For more information, check out these online resources and tips.