Children Need Smarter Handwriting Teaching Methods

Cape Times (South Africa), August 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

Children Need Smarter Handwriting Teaching Methods


I refer to Karin Schimke's article "The writing on the wall is cursive" (Cape Times, August 26).

There is little doubt that typing on a keyboard is a critical skill for our children today. Not only do we have to add computer skills to the curriculum in the early grades, typing needs to be added, too.

However, we cannot, and must not, compromise our children's ability to master fast, legible handwriting. We measure our children's progress by what they are able to write down.

Research has unequivocally shown that poorly presented and sloppy handwriting is graded significantly lower than neat work of the same standard.

It is critical, particularly as children move up through the grades, that they are able to maintain the legibility of their handwriting while achieving the speed necessary to fulfil the requirements of long essay questions under the time pressure of the test and examination situation.

Research has shown that a mixed cursive script (mostly cursive with occasional print letters) is the fastest script. Many children are taught cursive only to revert back to printing as soon as the school system allows it.

In order for handwriting instruction not to suffer from time constraints imposed by adding typing on a keyboard to the curriculum, we need to employ smarter handwriting teaching methods.

The teaching of handwriting in our schools is largely governed by tradition, with little innovation applied from the knowledge we have gained from motor learning theory and how motor tasks such as handwriting are learnt by the muscles and brain. …

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