Any writing with pencil and paper engages attention much more than a computer. But especially cursive writing. It’s because the pencil never leaves the paper in the midst of each word.
This does not mean I’m against something like touch-typing.
Cursive Writing For Brain Development
There are many benefits of cursive writing:
- Visually beautiful;
- Improves memory;
- Increases fine motor skills;
- Builds brain synapses and synchronicity between different levels of the brain and between the two hemisphere;
- Encourages stream of consciousness to flow much more freely.
Let’s explore that last powerful benefit of cursive writing…
Stream Of Consciousness Cursive Writing
For example, I’m writing this with pen and paper and later I will copy it into my laptop. In fact, I’ve just made a decision that I will write all my blog posts like this, in cursive writing.
And… I will post a screenshot of each original piece of writing onto each post.
Even though it is quite messy and there are still a few of the letters which I haven’t quite learned, like the capital “F” or capital “T” there are many letters which I love to write, like “f” and “z”!
The other benefit is if I write my blog posts like this it means less time in front of a computer screen. Less screen time is good for everyone, but especially me because I already spend considerable time online giving English lessons to people learning English as a second language.
Letting Mistakes Correct Themselves
As you might be able to see from the screenshots so far, on the previous five or six lines, the letter formation has been a bit clearer – that’s because I sharpened my pencil. This is something I will need to remember – to SHARPEN my pencil often because when it starts to get a little blunt, you need to press harder with the pencil and the muscles in your hand can start to ache.
Oh no! I lost my train of thought because I sharpened my pencil! 🙂
However, I looked back at start of my notes and saw that the first comment was that I taught myself cursive writing while working at a Montessori school. The reason I got hooked was because I was forced to practice slowly. The children were learning something new and had the added challenge of writing in English, which was a second l-language for them.
But for anyone of any age, practicing slowly is so valuable. This was explained in Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code. I highly recommend it.
In and Out of Stream Of Consciousness
Aha! I have remembered what I was thinking before I lost my train of thought: If your pencil is sharpened and you are keeping your hand and fingers relax then it becomes natural to hold the pencil further away from the page.
In turn, this allows you to write more quickly which allows your free thought to flow with even less resistance.
Having said that, my cursive writing brain is starting to tire, as you can probably tell from the sloppiness of my writing. Or I’m delusional and it looked sloppy from the start!
How Do Beginners Learn Cursive Writing?
The best way is for them to model someone else doing it.
If they are ready to take action, it’s quite simple to print out some sample cursive letters:
- First, they can start with lower-case letters;
- Second, they can move on to upper-case letters; then
- They can practice in their own time & style.
The 3 Types of Cursive Writing
- Looped cursive writing – some letters are written with “loops” to keep everything connected;
- Italic cursive writing – joining the letters is discouraged but each has the look of cursive, kind of like italics (however its name comes from the fact it originated in Italy!); and
- Connected cursive writing – essentially joined italic cursive writing, it is considered the OG and it is the quickest.
I feel like connected cursive writing encourages the stream of consciousness to flow the best.
How To Improve Cursive Writing
First, it should be an enriched exercise for a child (or adult), not a requirement. They probably won’t actually use cursive writing in their lives, apart from journal writing, perhaps, or something similar. Things to try:
- Find a pen-pal for them.
- Make it a kind of artwork for birthday/Christmas/other cards.
- Write in the soil/sand/nature.
- Let them explore ways that may surprise you!
With that, when you or your child start practicing cursive writing and you find yourself making mistakes more than at the start of the session, either:
- Stop! or
- Slow down…
That’s what I’ve done now – slowed down.
Additional Cursive Writing Tips
- If you find yourself having repeated difficulty with certain letters, spend some time practicing those ones in particular.
- Stick to simple text that isn’t very long – short, regular sessions is better than trying to write a 10-page letter in one session.
- Go easy on yourself (or your child!) – it doesn’t need to be perfect, just consistent.
Thoughts On Self-Directed Learning:
We’re all in the same boat, children and adults, exploring our curiosity to discover and learn. So, I’ll finish up with some self-directed learning notes:
- I need to audit my cursive writing and identify the letters I haven’t quite “captured” yet;
- I’m genuinely excited about writing my future posts in cursive writing – I have what I can only describe as “surprise energy” … hmm 🙂
It’s a delightful feeling; following your curiosity with enough flexibility to be comfortable doing something out of the ordinary… kind of like that funny thing called homeschooling or specifically, “unschooling“.
The room where I’m writing is almost completely dark now that the sun has gone down.
So I leave it with your to start your cursive writing journey… or to create the circumstances where your child can embrace their own self-directed learning by “playing with” the somewhat lost art of cursive writing.
Remember, the bare minimum to enable self-directed learning is…
- observing in the flesh;
- watching a video;
- reading a book
You can go here to read more about it.
P.S. A friend who I’m staying with just mentioned something really important about cursive writing:
“And the thing is that everyone’s
cursive writing is slightly different.”
What a freeing thought – to practice and develop your own style!