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Is penmanship still important? Why kids should still practice writing

A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that handwriting benefits functional brain development.
Is penmanship still important? Why kids should still practice writing
Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 03, 2024

The world has increasingly more technology – from iPhones, to laptops and everything in between.

So, is penmanship still important?

“Penmanship is especially important in the young grades because students are learning to both decode, which is to be able to read, and they’re learning to encode, which is the process of converting sounds to symbols,” said Krista Griffin, a professor of elementary education and literacy at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

study published in the National Library of Medicine found that handwriting benefits functional brain development. Writing letters and words was beneficial for young children’s brains more than other forms of sensorimotor practice, the study said.

Curriculum resource company Zaner-Bloser took to social media platform X in April to congratulate the kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade winners of their national handwriting cost.

And that skill might work in their favor.

“One thing that we know that has been proven through research is students who have legible handwriting are going to get a better grade, no matter what the content, than for students whose handwriting is more illegible,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the act of writing helps with the connection between letter and sound for children.

@scrippsnews ✏️When was the last time you used a pencil and paper or wrote in #cursive? An #education expert explains why it’s still a crucial skill, especially for young children. #penmanship ♬ original sound - Scripps News

“Cognitive research supports the idea that if you are able to physically write down something, it helps with working memory, there's a lot of parts to it. It's different than if you are keyboarding,” she said.

So, writing something down with a pencil and paper, as opposed to typing it on your phone, might be beneficial after all.

What about cursive?

Griffin said there’s an argument to be made that cursive helps writers remember spelling because the letters are connected.

But cursive isn’t taught in every state.

“It kind of went away quietly, nobody really talked about it or noticed it so much,” Griffin said.

She said when the Common Core state standards came out in 2010, people wondered where cursive went in school curriculum.

“In 2016, we saw states started adding it to their legislation where it had not been in legislation at all, and now in 2023, 22 states have it,” she said.

However, Griffin said it’s important to note every student is different and one way of communication may not work for everyone.

“I’m always going to argue one size doesn't fit all. Our goal is we want students to be able to communicate their thoughts in the most effective manner for them,” she said.

SEE MORE: Is cursive making a comeback? California and other states require it


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