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“Drawing Cursive”

 

Some argue a cursive writing course for children is no longer relevant because teaching it is no longer required  in the new Common Core State Standards adopted by most (45) States. Be mindful, these standards only include those skills that are testable and measurable in the classroom; they exclude foundational skills, like handwriting or spelling.  That said, the Common Core State Standards emphasizes the importance of expository writing to demonstrate understanding of key concepts, and fast, legible handwriting is how students accomplish this task. A cursive writing course for children is therefore essential to helping students master the standards of written expression and critical thinking, life skills that go well beyond the classroom.

Cognitive thinking level is prominent when a child is handwriting in cursive because the specific hand-eye coordination requirements are unique  for each letter in the alphabet. Also since the hand movements are continuously variable, a more heightened cognitive awareness is required than handwriting in print and making separated single strokes, as in printing the letters E, F, T, L, I and so on. However because cursive letters are more identifiably distinct than printed letters, children can discern easier and may learn to read cursive more readily.

With our cursive writing course for children key principles of learning and memory are embedded in learning to cursive hand write. First, the child learns just one letter at a time. The student is shown a cursive letter and asked to duplicate it.  The feedback is immediate. The child sees in one eye fixation both the ideal and the their version. The child then repeats their effort, and again is able to immediately measure and compare between the ideal and their outcome reflecting the current state of skill.  With each repeated effort the child progresses (without the intervention of an adult educator) and can see how much improvement is occurring. With our cursive writing course for children progress is all under the child’s control, they are aware of this, and that improved outcomes can occur with each repeated effort.  The child learns to pay more attention and take ownership over the effort in a similar way with when children draw pictures. Here, they are drawing pictures of letters, they get to do it where they know what the standard of excellence is, and they get to privately assess how well they are doing. Hence an effective cursive writing course for children will produce a myriad of positive child development outcomes beyond the skill set itself ranging from critical thinking to confidence building.  

According to neurologist Dr. William Klemm, the “Memory Medic”, when learning, forming letters by hand creates a connection with the movement of the hand to the visual response of seeing the letter on the page. There are multiple processes coexisting simultaneously: the movement of the hand, the thought of the letter, and the visual cue of the letter.   With respect to curriculum like our cursive writing course for children, Dr. Klemm claims cursive handwriting can make children more intelligent.  He says, “Scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization”—that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking.  Writing by hand helps train the brain to integrate various forms of information at once, including visual and tactile inputs, while applying fine motor skills. Cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation.”

 

Helping with Dyslexia

Our cursive writing course for children is helpful to young students coping with dyslexia.  Children when learning to read have to connect the shape of the word on the page with phonics character (the sound it makes).  In learning to write they have to recreate that shape back onto paper. For children with dyslexia, decoding these shapes and making these connections can often be very challenging. As a result, they commonly fail to harness the automatic flow of writing which is essential in expressing themselves clearly and easily when writing.  Generally children ‘print’ letters when first learning to write and progress to cursive at a later stage. For children with dyslexia, learning two formats of handwriting adds an second layer of difficulty to the writing endeavor. For this reason it is far more practical and sensible for a child to learn and adopt a single system of handwriting right from the start.  The most recommended and advisable handwriting style to conform to is continuous cursive handwriting. The primary reason is that when handwriting in cursive each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the paper and each word formed in one continuous flowing movement. This process allows a child’s hand to develop a ‘physical memory’ of each letter making it become natural to produce the correct shape.   Since letters and words both flow from left to right, children are less likely to reverse letters in cursive handwriting which are commonly confused in the early stages of learning (like b/d or p/q). In addition it’s helpful that with cursive there is a clearer distinction between capital and lowercase letter. Lastly, continuous flow of writing ultimately translates to improved speed and spelling.

“Visual literacy is the ability to comprehend and communicate through imagery.”  Our mission is to develop visual literacy through fine motor skill development and academic drawing lessons.  Visual literacy goes hand-in-hand with fine motor skills such as drawing and handwriting. A key aspect to developing visual thinking in children is this connection between the brain and the body, especially the fingers and thumb. When children develop fine motor skills through drawing and handwriting, they establish important neural pathways that strengthen learning (James & Engelhart, 2012; Li & James, 2016) and they gain mastery over their environment (Horn & Giacobbe, 2007; Leigh, 2017). When these skills are developed effectively, children can improve their language development and reading and writing abilities.

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