My husband informed me of an article stating that the practice of cursive writing is being replaced by teaching computer skills. Schools are viewing handwriting as something done only when jotting down a note or writing down a grocery list therefore cursive is definitely not needed. Computers, texting, iphone and Kindles are becoming widely used among school-aged children and the need for handwriting is becoming almost obsolete.
"The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019." (quoted from an article by the Contra Costa Times "Cursive writing may be a fading skill, but so what?" 9/19/2009)
Yes, taking notes during class is sometimes essential but why spend time teaching the unique curves and loops that represent cursive handwriting? Are there any benefits? According to a Samuel L. Blumenfeld's phonics website (author of many books on the literacy of America, homeschooling, and phonics): "There are few things that help enhance a child's academic self-esteem more than the development of good handwriting. It helps reading, it helps spelling, and because writing is made easy, accurate, and esthetically pleasant, it helps thinking." (www.howtotutor.com/cursive) Back in the 1940's, it was thought that cursive was going out of style due to the typewriter and now our schools are phasing it out completely. Texting and Instant Messaging online has led to several acronyms that replace spelling out the entire word. I believe that with the loss of cursive and the increase of these acronyms, children are at a disadvantage in their spelling skills. Every computer has spell check and it looks like most don't even use that convenient option. Yes, cursive is essential to the educational well-being of our children. Cursive handwriting encourages the correct way to hold a pen and produces less pressure on the fingers. Teaching cursive first, then print later, is what was is highly suggested by Samuel L. Blumenfeld. Writing in cursive assists young readers through less confusion of letter recognition and helps word recognition through "spatial discipline". Blumenfeld also claims that it is easier to learn cursive because of the ease of the curves and curls.
Once again, I am thankful that I have chosen to homeschool my children so I can choose how and what they will learn (I'm not saying that every school is bad...there are some great schools out there!). Blumenfeld's approach to learning cursive first, print later, has persuaded me to look further into this method and most likely teach my children this way. The benefits of cursive are worth the extra effort, although it may not be "extra" at all. Teaching my children cursive may enable them to be better students, readers, and perhaps even more intelligent. I encourage you to check out Samuel L. Blumenfeld's phonics website, www.howtotutor.com, and possibly read some of his books. We must be diligent in our approach to learning the correct way to teach our children. If we teach our children as the world teaches, we will only raise children who will follow the majority and never ask "why?". But if we teach our children to be aware of what they are learning and why, it may help us raise Godly and intelligent children who will be leaders in their generation.