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Why Cursive is Still Crucial

Classical Cursive Curriculum

DISCLOSURE I am a classical homeschooling mom of 7. You can trust that any referring links to external products on this site are only from products I personally use and love. I may get affiliate compensation for the links I use – if you want to click on the links – awesome – it's kind of like a “tip jar.” But if you don’t want to click on the links that’s absolutely fine too. I just want you to know I value complete honesty and integrity and I would never link to something that I haven’t tried and tested with my own children.


We have a cursive crisis going on right now (can you tell I’m totally having a blast with the “c” alliterations right now? Crucial cursive…cursive crisis….okay taking my nerd hat off right now–well never completely 😉 Let’s continue on…..)

Many states and schools are discontinuing cursive and it starts to make a homeschooling mom wonder if cursive is really necessary. After all, we already have so much to do. I know I feel like every day I’m pressed to “fit it all in.” Could skipping cursive ease up a bit on the burden? Is it worth it?

I hope in this article I can share my own experience as well as give you 10 great reasons why cursive is “worth it.” Why its not something you will want to skip out on. Personally, I have found teaching my 7 children cursive has been very simple and positive, and usually very fun.

Side Note (A quick funny story): a few years back my daughter was at her first VBS and they had her sign her name on her coloring sheet. At the time she was in first grade and signed her name in her sweet little 6 year old cursive. The teacher in the class said to her, “Wow, what school do you go to?” And her response still makes me chuckle today- she said very matter-of-factly, “No school.” I would have loved to see the surprised look on the teacher’s face! The teacher then asked her if she was homeschooled (she figured there must have been some sort of school behind that little girls cursive!)

Personally I have always loved pretty letters. At one time it was even a small business for me. I taught myself calligraphy and opened an in-home invitation and calligraphy business while my children were young and we lived near the city. Brides would come to my home office and purchase invitations which I would address for them. I also did seating charts or place cards. Non-bridal commissioned jobs came in the form of handwritten family trees, names written in family heirloom Bibles, artwork, really anything where beautiful writing was needed. Real calligraphy uses actually ink that you dip the pen…and things sometimes need to sit out and dry… so when my toddler got into that and ruined the rental carpet…I felt like it was time to take a break from the home business. But I still love pretty lettering! And I admire someone who has a beautiful penmanship – even just cursive or print.

Cursive is certainly attractive and of course legible cursive handwriting has great aesthetic value, but is it more than that? Is it more than just a feather in your cap to write pretty?

I would say so, and the current research and studies are in agreement, that yes, there is great value in cursive. Cursive has numerous mental, physical, social, and practical benefits. Here are my top ten reasons to learn cursive.

The Top Ten Benefits of Cursive

1. Improved neural connections. Cursive handwriting stimulates the brain in ways that typing cannot. It improves the dynamic interplay of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, helps build neural pathways, and increases mental effectiveness. According to Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor at the University of Washington, “Pictures of brain activity have illustrated that sequential finger movements used in handwriting activated massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. Handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential finger strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding only involves touching a key.”

2. Improved ability to read cursive. People still write in cursive. The Declaration of Independence is written in cursive. If your children cannot read cursive, they are essentially illiterate in their own language. The ability to read cursive is still required to fully function as a thinking and reading citizen in America.

3. Increased writing speed. Cursive is faster. When learned and learned well it simply is faster than the “stop and-start strokes” of printing. Increased speed has been shown to increase attention span during writing. This increases continuity and fluidity in writing, which in turn encourages the child’s ability to write greater amounts of writing.

4. Improved fine motor skills. “Cursive handwriting naturally develops sensory skills. Through repetition the children begin to understand how much force needs to be applied to the pencil and paper, the positioning of the pencil to paper at the correct angle, and motor planning to form each letter in fluid motion from left to right. This physical and spatial awareness allows them to write, but more importantly, builds the neural foundation of sensory skills needed for a myriad of everyday tasks such as buttoning, fastening, tying shoes, picking up objects, copying words from blackboards, and most importantly, reading.” (Cutting Cursive, The Real Cost. Candace Meyer, CEO, Minds-in-Motion, Inc.) This is a great reason to begin cursive early. How early is too early? My children learned to read print and write in cursive from 4 years old and on. There was no problem for any of them. The cursive letters and the print letters are presented simultaneously and they naturally learn the “look” of both.

5. Increased retention. The act of taking notes by hand instead of on a computer encourages a student to process the content and reframe it, which leads to better understanding and retention. Studies indicate that college students remembered information better one week later when they transcribed a paragraph in cursive than when they printed it or used a keyboard.

6. Ease of learning. Printing is more difficult than cursive for the same reason it is slower, it’s the frequent “stop-and-start” motion when forming letters. In addition, some printed letters look similar and are easily reversed, like the b and d, which is often confusing to children. Cursive is of particular value to children with learning challenges such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and difficulties with attention. This is another reason we started “cursive first”.

7. Improved legibility and spelling ability. Cursive requires children to write from left to right so that the letters will join in proper sequence and with proper spacing, making their writing easier to read. It also aids with spelling through muscle memory, as the hand acquires memory of spelling patterns through fluid movements that are used repeatedly. This is the same phenomenon that occurs when pianists learn patterns of hand movements through continued repetition. So when children must write out their spelling words tell them they’ll remember better if they do it in cursive!

8. Increased self-discipline. Cursive handwriting is complex, and is inherently associated with the development of fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Learning cursive prompts children to also develop self-discipline, which is a useful skill in all areas of life.

9. Higher quality signature. Cursive handwriting will improve the attractiveness, legibility, and fluidity of one’s signature.

10. Increased self-respect. The ability to master the skill of writing clearly and fluidly improves the students’ confidence to communicate freely with the written word. Handwriting is a vital life skill.

No matter how much we text or type we will still always jot down notes or write in journals. And based on reasons #1, and #5 we will want to write! It increases memory and neural connections. Whatever we write is going to be more effective if written by hand.

Classical Cursive Curriculum Recommendations:

My absolute favorite cursive curriculum is A Beka Books cursive. It incorporates age appropriate phonics so it’s a double whammy in that way. As students advance in grades, the lines they write on in the book get progressively smaller. A Beka is passionate about the cursive first method as well. (If your child has never done cursive the 1st grade book is perfectly fine. I’ve used it with a 6th grader who didn’t know cursive only because the lines are biggest in that book which give them ample space for practicing good form, and then once basic forms are learned you could just jump to the correct grade of cursive book). They are all Christian books and incorporate Bible verses. Once in third grade and up, the cursive book books could easily serve as copybooks.

Memoria Press uses the New American cursive method. It is introduced in first grade – in kindergarten they learn print. I can see the value of learning print at some point for sure. My children, funny enough, though they all learned cursive and have excellent cursive, often prefer to write in print! Go figure! So knowing how to write both cursive and print well is a valuable skill.

The New American Method is designed to be simpler and more straightforward. It eliminates 26 strokes that are used in other cursive programs. For that reason only, it is not my preference, I am old fashioned and classical and if my kids are going to learn cursive I want them to learn the old way. But-if cursive isn’t your thing or you just want a basic hand then this is a solid program without a doubt.

Have your children started learning cursive yet? How’s handwriting going for you?

I hope in this article I can share my own experience as well as give you 10 great reasons why cursive is “worth it.” Why its not something you will want to skip out on. Personally, I have found teaching my 7 children cursive has been very simple and positive, and usually very fun.

A quick funny story, a few years back my daughter was at her first VBS and they had her sign her name on her coloring sheet. At the time she was in first grade and signed her name in her sweet little 6 year old cursive. The teacher in the class said to her, “Wow, what school do you go to?” And her response still makes me chuckle today- she said very matter-of-factly, “No school.” I would have loved to see the surprised look on the teacher’s face! The teacher then asked her if she was homeschooled (she figured there must have been some sort of school behind that cursive!)

The love of pretty letters also made it’s way into a business for me. I taught myself calligraphy and opened an in home invitation and calligraphy business while my children were young and we lived in town. Brides would come to my home office and purchase invitations which I would address for them. I also did seating charts or place cards. Non-bridal commissioned jobs came in the form of handwritten family trees, names written in family heirloom Bibles, artwork, really anything where beautiful writing was needed.

So those are a few examples that speak to the attractiveness of cursive, and certainly legible cursive handwriting has great aesthetic value, but is it more than that? Is it more than just a feather in your cap to write pretty?

I would say so, and the current research and studies are in agreement, that yes, there is great value in cursive. Cursive has numerous mental, physical, social, and practical benefits. Here are my top ten reasons to learn cursive.

The Top Ten Benefits of Cursive

1. Improved neural connections. Cursive handwriting stimulates the brain in ways that typing cannot. It improves the dynamic interplay of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, helps build neural pathways, and increases mental effectiveness. According to Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor at the University of Washington, “Pictures of brain activity have illustrated that sequential finger movements used in handwriting activated massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. Handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential finger strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding only involves touching a key.”

2. Improved ability to read cursive. People still write in cursive. The Declaration of Independence is written in cursive. If your children cannot read cursive, they are essentially illiterate in their own language. The ability to read cursive is still required to fully function as a thinking and reading citizen in America.

3. Increased writing speed. Cursive is faster. When learned and learned well it simply is faster than the “stop and-start strokes” of printing. Increased speed has been shown to increase attention span during writing. This increases continuity and fluidity in writing, which in turn encourages the child’s ability to write greater amounts of writing.

4. Improved fine motor skills. “Cursive handwriting naturally develops sensory skills. Through repetition the children begin to understand how much force needs to be applied to the pencil and paper, the positioning of the pencil to paper at the correct angle, and motor planning to form each letter in fluid motion from left to right. This physical and spatial awareness allows them to write, but more importantly, builds the neural foundation of sensory skills needed for a myriad of everyday tasks such as buttoning, fastening, tying shoes, picking up objects, copying words from blackboards, and most importantly, reading.” (Cutting Cursive, The Real Cost. Candace Meyer, CEO, Minds-in-Motion, Inc.) This is a great reason to begin cursive early. How early is too early? My children learned to read print and write in cursive from 4 years old and on. There was no problem for any of them. The cursive letters and the print letters are presented simultaneously and they naturally learn the “look” of both.

5. Increased retention. The act of taking notes by hand instead of on a computer encourages a student to process the content and reframe it, which leads to better understanding and retention. Studies indicate that college students remembered information better one week later when they transcribed a paragraph in cursive than when they printed it or used a keyboard.

6. Ease of learning. Printing is more difficult than cursive for the same reason it is slower, it’s the frequent “stop-and-start” motion when forming letters. In addition, some printed letters look similar and are easily reversed, like the b and d, which is often confusing to children. Cursive is of particular value to children with learning challenges such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and difficulties with attention. This is another reason we started “cursive first”.

7. Improved legibility and spelling ability. Cursive requires children to write from left to right so that the letters will join in proper sequence and with proper spacing, making their writing easier to read. It also aids with spelling through muscle memory, as the hand acquires memory of spelling patterns through fluid movements that are used repeatedly. This is the same phenomenon that occurs when pianists learn patterns of hand movements through continued repetition. So when children must write out their spelling words tell them they’ll remember better if they do it in cursive!

8. Increased self-discipline. Cursive handwriting is complex, and is inherently associated with the development of fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Learning cursive prompts children to also develop self-discipline, which is a useful skill in all areas of life.

9. Higher quality signature. Cursive handwriting will improve the attractiveness, legibility, and fluidity of one’s signature.

10. Increased self-respect. The ability to master the skill of writing clearly and fluidly improves the students’ confidence to communicate freely with the written word. Handwriting is a vital life skill.

No matter how much we text or type we will still always jot down notes or write in journals. And based on reasons #1, and #5 we will want to write! It increases memory and neural connections. Whatever we write is going to be more effective if written by hand.

Classical Cursive Curriculum Recommendations:

My absolute favorite cursive curriculum is A Beka Books cursive. It incorporates age appropriate phonics so it’s a double whammy in that way. As students advance in grades, the lines they write on in the book get progressively smaller. A Beka is passionate about the cursive first method as well. (If your child has never done cursive the 1st grade book is perfectly fine. I’ve used it with a 6th grader who didn’t know cursive only because the lines are biggest in that book which give them ample space for practicing good form, and then once basic forms are learned you could just jump to the correct grade of cursive book). They are all Christian books and incorporate Bible verses. Once in third grade and up, the cursive book books could easily serve as copybooks.

Memoria Press uses the New American cursive method. It is introduced in first grade – in kindergarten they learn print. I can see the value of learning print at some point for sure. My children, funny enough, though they all learned cursive and have excellent cursive, often prefer to write in print! Go figure! So knowing how to write both cursive and print well is a valuable skill.

The New American Method is designed to be simpler and more straightforward. It eliminates 26 strokes that are used in other cursive programs. For that reason only, it is not my preference, I am old fashioned and classical and if my kids are going to learn cursive I want them to learn the old way. But-if cursive isn’t your thing or you just want a basic hand then this is a solid program without a doubt.

Have your children started learning cursive yet? How’s handwriting going for you?

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