By Kartik Bajoria
In an era of hyper-digitisation, handwritten text is a dying pursuit. Across schools, colleges and educational institutions, classwork, projects, exams even, are being increasingly ‘written’ on the computer. Snail mail has been replaced firmly by email. Notes by digital messaging services. Such is the proliferation of the digital lifestyle that most people don’t end up handwriting a word, for weeks together. Herein lies an opportunity for parents to get the next generation of kids to ‘preserve and protect’ the handwritten word.
And there’s hardly a better way of doing that, than by inculcating and encouraging cursive writing. Sure, it presents its set of challenges but there are also numerous advantages for young kids and learners to be had. Let us explore a few.
The biggest challenge for young kids in terms of cursive writing is of course, shaping, or shall we say, drawing the letters. To many children, this does not come naturally. Even if they are able to write non-cursive, since these are free-standing, individual ‘drawings’ to be made, the moment they have to write in a continuous flow, young hands find this hard to coordinate.
Often, kids also struggle to find a grip that best suits their handwriting style. Just like a sportsman who needs to find his or her ideal grip, be it with a racket or a bat, a pencil, especially when being used to write cursive, has to be gripped properly. It must be the perfect combination of comfort, in order to avoid long-term fatigue, and at the same time, be firm, so that the writing is clear, certain and legible.
Judging the amount of space that will be left towards the end of a line on a page can also pose some problems for young learners. In fact, this even stumps fully mature adults and we often find ourselves running out of space while writing a congratulatory gift-card, for instance. We have not been able to anticipate how much space our planned words will take up. This happens with kids as well. Before they even realise, in the concentration of writing in a smooth and unbroken flow, they reach the end of the page with a few letters of a word, hanging!
Having said that, all of these challenges can be overcome with practice, and what that does in the process, is present a number of great advantages. As parents, we must therefore try to get our children to write cursive, and here’s why.
First, by developing the writing ability for cursive, children automatically are able to read cursive too. It’s simple really, if one must learn how to read a balance sheet, it helps if one knows how to make it in the first place. To kids who have learned to write cursive, reading will never present a problem. They will be quick and efficient readers.
You might have come across this phrase neural-connections. In layman’s terms, what that means is the connection and coordination between different parts of the brain. Writing cursive compels this function to develop in children. It all plays into the usage of hands while writing cursive, which is much more evolved than say typing, this stimulating the brain to develop better.
One of the more obvious positive outcomes of kids learning cursive is perceptibly faster writing. When one is writing non-cursive, one is inadvertently wasting a lot of time constructing free-standing unconnected letter. In the smooth continuous writing of cursive, students can write much quicker, thereby saving valuable time, especially in test and examination scenarios.
Learning by writing is widely acknowledged as a highly effective way of learning and retention. Especially when contrasted with taking notes on by typing, say on a laptop – writing feeds that information more robustly and permanently to the child’s brain, thus making for an essential studying method in this marks-obsessed academic environment.
Last, to me personally, more than the several other tangible benefits of learning cursive, that a young generation would be able to hand-write beautifully, is in itself the greatest advantage of cursive. To preserve, protect, celebrate the romance and culture of the ‘penned’ word is something worth caring for, and as parents, we should consider seriously.
For time immemorial, information, knowledge, records, history, was passed on through the written word. In cursive, our children have an immense opportunity and responsibility to nurture that rich and glorious tradition. That it has many otherwise beneficial aspects, in just the icing on the cursive-cake!
(Kartik Bajoria is a writer, educator and moderator.)