Endangered Species?

The above image shows something that I’m seeing less and less when I  go to work in my various classrooms.

The overwhelming majority of students above 3rd grade.  that I work with rely on printing rather than cursive. In fact, many middle-schoolers have no concept of handwriting—the “old-fashioned way.”

Sure, it’s the Digital/Social Media Age, and everyone texts, or types. That’s not a bad thing, of course. But the tradition of forming letters is wonderful in training for manual dexterity and a workout for the brain. When I ask a bunch of seventh-graders to write their essays rather than print, they look at me as if I’ve asked for them to chisel their answers in stone.

“We don’t know how to do that,” is a typical answer. And, they’re absolutely right. Time-crunched teachers don’t have spaces in the daily schedule for this. Besides, the heavy reliance on electronics and printers makes pen-to-paper seem obsolete. Along with that, the home/family component doesn’t place strong emphasis as it did when I was a kid.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.This past January 23 was National Handwriting Day, and here’s a few hacks to put a little more cursive in our lives:

1.S-L-O-W Down. It’s not a race to the finish. Sometimes, when we take the time to form the letters, you’ll see more sccuess and legibility.

2. Lighten up. Release the grip on the writing instrument. Often, when there’s too much pressure, the outcome isn’t what you want. Relax your grip as you write, and see amarked difference.

3. Practice. It’s as simple as that. Just like soccer practice, you can’t get good until you do it. But don’t try overkill—a few minutes’ practice daily will show improvement over time. The trick is to give yourself a chance, and be patient.

4. Get in line. You don’t have to shy away from lined paper—it can be your best friend. Choose from wide-ruled or narrower college rule, but the lines help keep you “on track.” Think of it like training wheels for a bike. Once you get the hang of it, lined paper won’t always be a necessity.


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