Because we homeschool, we have the privilege of deciding what our children are going to study and when. Some of that has been as straightforward as purchasing a basic math curriculum and running with it. In other ways, we have gone completely against the grain of modern education by choosing to pursue a classical education.
Then there is cursive.
Some schools across the United States (not South Carolina) have dropped it from their curriculum, and that has sparked numerous online debates between parents, educators, neurologists, psychologists, and historians about the benefits – or not – of insisting that the youngest generation not lose the ability to write in script.
No one uses it anymore, the naysayers proclaim. It’s a waste of time in school that could be used to focus on other skills. Printing or a combination of print and cursive is faster anyway.
Not so, respond the pro-cursive forces. The time spent on cursive is fairly minimal and the fact that no one uses it is a tragedy. Teaching cursive actually benefits children neurologically, and look at all of the historical documents that are written in cursive!
In the end, we chose to include cursive in our children’s homeschool curriculum. Our daughter learned print first, and began cursive this year, in second grade. I have read some articles about the benefits of learning cursive first, and I may try to do that with our son when he gets to school age. On the days when neither one of us feels like dealing with a cursive lesson, I try to hold on to these reasons and push through.
Because the benefits have not been disproved
The benefits that I have read are far-ranging: developmental benefits, the speed of writing, the fact that it may be particularly beneficial to those struggling with dyslexia, what brain scans show about how our minds work when we are writing in cursive vs. printing vs. typing. Each one of those can probably be disputed or discounted by another study, but there is enough good stuff that I am willing to give cursive the benefit of the doubt.
For the discipline of it
Cursive has not been easy for my daughter. She struggles to imitate the slant, to connect one letter to another, to write well enough that I can tell the difference between her “e” and her “l”. It would be easier, honestly, to just work on her printing and call it a day. But there is a discipline in learning something new, and in exercising her fine motor skills, and in practicing something that connects her muscles to her eyes to her mind in a way that learning her multiplication tables and spelling list do not.
So they can read my journals someday, and my mom’s notes, and my grandmother’s letters to my grandfather
All of these are written in cursive, and I want to pass them along someday. I don’t want her to struggle to understand our words. Yes, they could learn to read cursive without writing it, but it seems to just make sense to do both at the same time.
So she feels connected to her past
Not just her family roots, but also our country’s history. I understand that cursive in its current form is a relatively recent development, but an awful lot of documents have been written in cursive in that brief timespan. I don’t want my children to be learning about history in the future and see a picture of a document from the founding of our country and feel disconnected because it looks like a foreign language to them.
Because it’s pretty
Beautiful cursive penmanship is, well, beautiful, and when I have taken the time to write carefully and someone has made a comment about how pretty my writing is, I do have a sense of pride in a job well-done. I want my children to have that, too. I don’t expect their handwriting to look like exquisite calligraphy, but I do expect it to be legible and neat, not giving grief to anyone who has to read it someday. And when I am old and gray and exchange handwritten letters with my children, not just e-mails, I want us to be able to read each other’s written notes of affection.