Our seven year old daughter is in second grade now and is learning to write cursive. She proudly displays her progress and is eager to rewrite words and names she learned before, because in cursive they seem more grown up. As pen and paper junkies we are grateful to be in a school district, that values the skill of writing in long hand. There are studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence, that writing in longhand aids in memorization, improves fine motor skills and concentration. It is sad, that some school districts no longer give cursive the attention it deserves.
Our daughter has always been drawing on anything she can find, but somehow writing things down seemed less interesting until she learned cursive. Writing in longhand allows her personality to come out through her handwriting and writing in longhand is closer to drawing then typing on a keyboard or writing one letter at a time. Our daughter does her writing in a school issued notebook that is nothing to write home about and we could not help but wonder what the return on the investment would be in childrens participation and enthusiasm if every child got to practice their handwriting in a Paperblanks or Moleskine journal. We have always thought the foiled and debossed Pokemon cards would make great Paperblanks covers…
It is funny how your kid’s school work brings back memories of your own elementary school experience. When I was in elementary school, there were no pdas, I- pads or computers, except for Ataris and Commodore 64s, and we wrote mostly with leaky BIC ballpoints in longhand. One day in 5th grade our teacher announced, that as part of a new handwriting initiative, the school was handing each student a new fountain pen. A green pen for right handed students and a blue one for the lefties. I am not sure what the difference was exactly, but I suspect it was the grip or the nib.
Suffice to say the fountain pen initiative became a messy affair especially for already messy writers like myself. Ink cartridges and 11 year old boys in a class room setting was problematic to say the least. I had a habit of chewing on my pencils and pens and an ink cartridge.. once…. The inside of my mouth transformed into the mouth of a creature out of Avatar. All that said, I still remember the nib of the fountain pen scratching the paper, forcing me to slow down as I wrote in longhand, forcing me to think just a little longer about the shape of letters and words. Seeing our daughter learning to write in cursive and looking back to my own school experience I have come to realize that learning to write in longhand is a journey of self discovery, from which we benefit a lifetime.
In the Wall Street Journal of October 5th we found this article by Gwendolyn Bounds, that does a great job explaining the benefits of writing in longhand and backs it up with science.