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Published on June 27, 2017

cursive handwriting

Cursive Writing Still Important for Brain Development

Today’s school curriculums naturally focus on preparing children for the real world. Forward-thinking skills, including science, math and critical thinking, spark an interest in children for future careers and hobbies. Learning to write cursive, however, has fallen to the wayside.

But even keeping up this traditional skill can be beneficial for children, too, says Ovictor Tesoro, MD, Avera Medical Group pediatric neurologist. Cursive writing works various parts of a child’s brain.

“Writing, in general, is a complex sensorimotor experience. The relationship between the sensory input and the motor output is important toward this particular skill,” explained Tesoro.

In the brain, writing primarily involves the dorsal premotor and supplementary motor areas (located in the frontal lobe), and the inferior parietal lobe of the person’s dominant brain hemisphere.

Benefits of cursive writing include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased hand-eye coordination. Remember those lined worksheets that had you practicing two dozen curly ‘G’s’ and ‘g’s’? When children learn cursive, they often eye an example letter with arrows, telling them where to start and finish the letter. Glancing back and forth from the example letter and where they are writing increases hand-eye coordination.
  • Better spelling. “Researchers have found that cursive writing, and practicing handwriting in particular, has been associated with a higher level of spelling memory,” said Tesoro. Think of it this way: Autocorrect and autofill on smartphones have helped many a person message family members, friends and coworkers, even when the sender’s spelling isn’t the greatest.
  • Better social and communication skills. As people get older, we realize the importance of having a legible signature associated with our name. It’s an identifier, offering a sense of pride to a person. Also, learning cursive allows a child to read cursive. Imagine not being able to read grandma’s letters!

“Scientists are just beginning to study the effect cursive handwriting has on the brain and the individual,” said Tesoro. “The benefits they’ve found are merely correlations; as more studies are conducted, we can validate these claims.”

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