Letter to the Editor: Cursive connected to cognitive development
In response to Gayle Crowder Ryman’s opinion of cursive being outdated, published on Sept. 5:
I am fortunate to be a long-time teacher with the predominance of my career being in Montessori schools where cursive remains strong. In this day and age when we are “throwing many things to the curb” in the educational arena, children’s development is compromised. Ryman suggests that “in the name of progress” we should always use better and faster tools. I ask, at what cost? Children’s development and self-construction are a long process that is supposed to extend over the period of their childhood! When nurtured in a strong and loving educational setting, their capabilities are many.
I urge readers to research the neurology of cursive handwriting and the connection to cognitive development. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of the brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing, as opposed to typing or visual practice.
The state of our educational system is under attack in the news and our children are accused of testing lower and lower on national norms. Yet we continue to move away from children being actively engaged in their education: children sitting for long periods of time, schools limiting playground time to extend the academic day, an unprecedented amount of screen time. Why aren’t people taking notice of this trend being detrimental to our children?
Children need movement to develop and learn. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity.
Montessori begins the process of cursive in preschool and kindergarten with multisensory instruction. Preschool children trace sandpaper letters until a motor memory is established. That motor memory is taken to the chalkboard and later to pencil and paper. I have been involved in this process hundreds of times over the past 20 years. I have successfully assisted the learning of cursive handwriting with children with special needs, including dyslexia and dysgraphia, with great success.
I urge you to advocate for our children to be allowed a childhood rich with experience, educational opportunities, movement, play, and yes, cursive handwriting.
Carrie D. Irre, M. Ed., Strasburg