Magazine article District Administration

Teaching Handwriting in Early Childhood: Brain Science Shows Why We Should Rescue This Fading Skill

Magazine article District Administration

Teaching Handwriting in Early Childhood: Brain Science Shows Why We Should Rescue This Fading Skill

Article excerpt

Relegating handwriting to the back burner of early childhood education ignores the close relationship between fine motor skill development and early success in math and reading. Technology isn't the enemy, but jumping to keyboards and calculators before mastering pencil and paper may not be developmentally appropriate for young learners.

Manuscript handwriting does make a cameo appearance in the Common Core for kindergarten through third grade, but the standards have abandoned cursive handwriting completely.

Handwriting is the direct precursor skill to note-taking, writing and sketching out ideas and plans. We can document practical benefits for students who master legible handwriting, including:

* Better grades for neatly written work

* A tighter focus on content and ideas, not the mechanics of letter drawing

* Better motivation and confidence-- with less frustration about handwriting

Education technology and blended learning advocates recommend teaching basic computing skills before the age of 5 or 6, and the Common Core standards' computer-based testing is pushing down typing and computer skills from middle school to kindergarten.

Motor skills

As we assess these dissonant signals, the research-based study of childhood development should play a larger role. Digital keyboards don't deliver the same fine motor skill benefits as putting pencil to paper. Here's why:

When we print the letter A, there is something essentially different happening than when we print the letters B or C. When we first learn how to form these letters, we go back and forth, looking at an A, B or C and the letters we draw ourselves.

On the other hand, we can press the A, B or C key on a keyboard without thinking of their differences. The result is perfectly formed letters. We don't get the benefit of following the letters' shapes in detail, and we don't have to struggle with our fingers. As a result, research shows, young students in a school environment dominated by keyboards and touch screens don't recognize as many letters as those who learn to write by hand. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.