Computers may change how we communicate, but did you know schools aren’t teaching handwriting after first grade? Here’s why we aren’t just making them dependent on devices, but also making them dumber adults.
Reading, handwriting, writing, arithmetic – the three things that children are supposed to learn at school.
But did you know that 75% of American students, grades 4 – 12 are writing below grade level?
Considering I have a journalism degree, loves stationery, and values handwritten notes, I have a lot of problems with the fact that the Common Core curriculum only puts emphasis on teaching handwriting in the Kindergarten and first-grade levels.
Is regrouping more important that writing your name? I guess so according to the Core.
So what are we, as parents, going to do about this little problem?
Despite how technology-driven our society becomes, writing is still a fundamental skill that everyone should possess. And that is why National Handwriting Day was created in 1977 – to remind children (and parents) of the importance of handwriting and how penmanship shaped our history.
I’m sure the idea of a whole day dedicated to handwriting probably seems antiquated when you’re probably reading this post on your phone or tablet. However research has shown that there are multiple cognitive and emotional benefits that go far beyond the classroom.
For one, handwriting makes us smarter. Writing by hand benefits cognitive development, motor skills and can lead to improved writing skills and comprehension. University of Washington Pyschologist Virginia Berninger conducted a study on school-aged children and found that handwriting, both priting and cursive, and typing on a keyboard activated different brain patterns. Studies also showed kids who wrote by hand remembered more and generated more ideas than those typing.
Seeing a pattern in all of this?
Beyond cognitive benefits, handwriting allows children, and people for that matter to express themselves. Once upon a time, before digital devices and abbreviated responses ruled the world, the written word was the only way for people to document the daily happenings (i.e. history, literature and all that stuff that we see at the museums.)
So maybe your kid won’t be the next Shakespeare, but everyone needs to leave their individual mark. Can’t do that with iPad. Just with a handwritten note.
Also, view: 20 Quotes About The Power Of Writing
But if your little kiddos are not as excited about writing as they are about their iPad time, here are a few ways to convince them as suggested by The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association.
- Teach them about the importance written documents in history. These simple documents have changed the world, even though they weren’t written 140 characters.
- Read a book. It may not be writing, but it shows the appreciation of writing and J.K. Rowling would appreciate that.
- Practice 15 minutes of handwriting each day. Like everything, practice makes perfect. We can’t expect those few hours at school to be sufficient.
- Start a diary or journal. Keeping a diary of their innermost thoughts is actually a great way for kids to reduce stress.
- Write a story or make a card. You can finally use that 72 count of crayons, Grandma will be a happy person and you’ll have lots of fridge décor. Sounds like a win to me.
These are all simple things you could once a week, if not a few times. Heck, the 15 minutes of handwriting practice could be spent writing a story.
Now, I know…”at the rate our world is moving and how technology is evolving, handwriting may become obsolete,” much like Blackberry and Treos (remember those?)
But communication since the beginning of time didn’t include anything with an apple on it.
In the wise words of Willie (Nelson that is): “I like myself better when I’m writing regularly.”
Helpful tools to teach handwriting at home (affiliate):