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THE VIRTUE OF HANDWRITING

Always admiring neat and beautiful writing of others? In fact we all may learn how to do it. The principles and rules of producing nice handwriting are not rocket science, the mind will understand the principles and it takes practice to have the hand follow through.

Honestly, magic will not happen overnight though.

Clear your desk and put away your phone for 30 minutes a day. Practice with intention. Use your mind to control where the pen goes. Muscle memory is being built gradually and you will see improvement. Not only will you see better handwriting, a focused session of practice is therapeutic too.

The benefits of handwriting go beyond the alphabets on paper.

Below are the evidences from the National State Boards of Education in America:
  • Cognitive and Motor Skills Development: Because handwriting is a complex skill that involves both cognitive and fine motor skills, direct instruction is required to learn handwriting (it is not good enough to just give a workbook to students and hope for the best). However, the result of good instruction is that students are benefited both in their cognitive development and in developing motor skills.
  • Literacy Development: Handwriting is a foundational skill that can influence students’ reading, writing, language use, and critical thinking. Students without consistent exposure to handwriting are more likely to have problems retrieving letters from memory; spelling accurately; extracting meaning from text or lecture; and interpreting the context of words and phrases.
  • Brain Development: The sequential hand movements used in handwriting activate the regions of the brain associated with thinking, short-term memory, and language. In addition, according to Virginia Berninger, Ph.D., professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, cursive in particular is linked with brain functions around self-regulation and mental organization. “Cursive helps you connect things,” Dr. Berninger said in an interview.
  • Memory: The act of handwriting helps students (and adults) retain information more effectively than when keyboarding, mostly likely because handwriting involves more complex motor functions and takes a bit longer. One study comparing students who took notes by hand versus classmates who took notes by computer found that the hand writers exhibited better comprehension of the content and were more attentive and involved during the class discussions.
  • Written Expression: Elementary-age students who wrote compositions by hand rather than by keyboarding, one researcher found, wrote faster, wrote longer pieces, and expressed more ideas.
  • Learning Disabilities: Handwriting instruction can be especially valuable to many students with disabilities. As one professor of occupational therapy has written, “One of the first things educators can do to ensure that students with special needs develop good writing skills, besides teaching them spelling and basic writing processes, is to provide them with formal handwriting instruction.” Students with learning disabilities are more likely to need extra support to improve their handwriting, but improved handwriting can both help improve academic outcomes and help in fine motor skill development.

Source: National Association of State Boards of Education

Other links of interest: 

- The Lost Virtue of Cursive, The New Yorker, 22 Oct 2016

Biological and Psychological Benefits of Learning Cursive, Dr. William R. Klemm, Psychology Today, 2013

The Benefits of Cursive go beyond Writing, The New York Times, 30 April 2013


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