Why You Should Learn Cursive To Improve Typing

Categories: Typing Practice, Typing Science |

Cursive, longhand, fair-hand, joined-up writing – are any of these terms familiar? For most of us these days, the bulk of written communication is done via a computer keyboard or smartphone screen, and the art of penmanship is becoming as old-fashioned as tatting lace or wearing a watch fob. Children are still taught how to write in school, but most aren’t required to learn anything more than how to form letters correctly so that they’re legible. How long ago did you learn how to write by hand? Is your handwriting better today than it was when you were in school? Chances are you’ve done so much keyboarding, and so little writing, that your once-readable sentences are messy scrawls that even you have a hard time deciphering.

We’re not recommending that you stop typing, of course! But if you spend time practicing your handwriting, you’ll stimulate your brain in useful and unique ways, and that will result in positive feedback that will also improve your skills at the keyboard. A study done at Indiana University looked at brain scans of young children who were learning handwriting skills, and found that more areas of the brain were active and interconnected when they were shaping cursive (longhand) letters than when they were printing letters. All writing involves hand-eye coordination, but there is more required by cursive writing, since the letters must flow into each other, and the shapes of the letters involve more thought and focused direction. That focus, combined with the visual and physical effort required, means that you’re working harder and forcing your brain to work harder, too.

There are many places that good handwriting is still necessary, and many times when an e-mail just isn’t adequate. Keep working on your typing speed and accuracy, but make sure that you don’t forget how to use a pen and pencil to communicate when you need to, whether that’s a birthday card for your grandmother, a follow-up thank-you note to the management team who interviewed you yesterday, or an important to-do list for yourself.

Reference: L. Engelhardt, K.H. James. The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Trends in Neuroscience and Education (2012)

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