I have recently had the privilege of taking over a wonderful first grade class in a private Christian school and I was surprised and IMPRESSED that they exclusively taught cursive handwriting...starting in kindergarten! You might be thinking "Whoa! That is fancy, but not practical. Most kids can't even write print." I get it. Trust me, I do. However, I want to challenge your thinking for a second and introduce you to some new ideas.
First of all, in our global world, it is important to note that most industrialized nations teach their students to write cursive FIRST. In fact, they even have children's books that are written in cursive and print because the children are more familiar with the cursive. Secondly, cursive was taught exclusively in our country until the early 20th century. Yes, as a nation we did have a better work ethic then, but that aside, it is a more practical approach to handwriting. Hang with me for a second, I will explain.
What did Gutenberg invent? Yep, that was the PRINTING press. Print letters were invented for a machine. Cursive was invented for human hands. It actually takes less muscles and coordination to write in cursive than print, which is important for little hands that are less than coordinated to begin with.
Cursive writing eliminates several problems that young children are prone to such as letter reversals (b and d, p and q) and spacing issues. The letters B and D in cursive are different and specific enough that most children do not have issues with reversals. Also, all the letters are connected in a word and we do not have spaces until we write a new word or sentence.
Lastly, our pencil stays on the paper for the duration of a word and students are less likely to develop bad habits and teach themselves an alternate way to form their letters. We've all seen some goofy letter formation and it makes it nearly impossible to read and slows down the child's ability to write. When learning cursive FIRST, the child will develop better habits, be a quicker writer, and the writing will be much more legible.
Now I am not saying students should never learn print. I also realize that this challenges the way that about 99.5% of our schools do business. But let me tell you, I have seen it in action. The school I teach at is not for gifted and talented students. Most of them are pretty average. but their handwriting is BEAUTIFUL and they are pretty good readers too! Let me show you. I included EVERYONE in my class in these photos, not just the best. This way you can see that it works.
Pretty Cool, Right? Now remember, this is FIRST GRADE! I encourage you to start a dialogue with your peers and do a little more research. A great place to look is through the work of Denise Eide. Her work is entitled The Logic of English. She is much more of an expert on this topic than I and the place that I got most of my ideas for this post. Now, on to something you can do NOW...
Yep, those are poof balls glued to an end of a dry-erase marker! Instant eraser cap! Super easy and super cheap! I hope you make your class some today!
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