Monday, July 16, 2012

Can't write - Can't Read

An interesting thing many people don't know is that if you don't learn to write in cursive, you also are unable to read cursive writing. I only learned about this a few years ago when a Grandmother told me how her Granddaughter was unable to read what she wrote in her birthday card.  True enough, when I checked further many young people today are unable to read anything written in cursive.  Even many of the younger teachers today cannot read cursive writing.
Recently I read about countries in Europe who never adopted teaching printing at school. In Scotland in the early 1900's the teachers also quickly discovered that if children were not taught to write in cursive they would be unable to read anything written in cursive. In those days education was much less regulated and many students would leave formal schooling by the age of 11 or 12 years old to help their families financially.  Girls would often stay home to help their mothers care for the younger children in the family, or they might work for other households to help earn money for the family. Boys could start to learn skills helping their fathers or in factory jobs. It was important that the students get as much education as possible before that age. Reading, writing and basic arithmetic was taught beginning in grade one and most students had enough knowledge in these subjects to function in their day-today lives. Teachers believed that not being able to read and write in cursive meant the student was handicapped for the rest of  his/her life. Since schooling in those days was purely for the purpose of educating students, teachers knew what worked well and stuck with the tried and true methods.
It's also interesting to me that the reverse is not true. If a child is not taught to print, rather is taught cursive writing beginning in grade one, he/she is still able to read printed text in books as well as on signs and even hand printed information. For some reason the brain doesn't recognize connected cursive letters in the same way it does printed letters. 
So here we are 100 years later and the education leaders have a completely different attitude towards cursive - eliminate it from the education system altogether.
More children's activities:
Cut up a few different coloured drinking straws into different sized pieces.  Thread a large darning needle with thin yarn or kitchen string and make a large knot oat one end.  Have your child string the straw pieces onto the yarn and then make this into a necklace.
Search for 4-leaf clovers in the grass or make a pretty wildflower bouquet.  Older children can try to identify the names of the picked flowers.  
Make a whistle using long blades of grass held between the outer edges of both thumbs.  Blow on the grass blade to make a whistling sound.
Edda Manley


  1. I routinely teach five- and six-year-olds to read cursive, long before anyone is asking them to write it. It's true that, if you aren't taught to read cursive or to write it, you won't magically acquire either skill — it's also true that you can be taught to read cursive in about half an hour, if you are actually TAUGHT to do this ... and this doesn't have to wait until you learn how to write cursive (if you ever do).

  2. Kate, do you EVER have anything positive or encouraging to say?

  3. What kind of "positivity" or "encouragement" do you feel in need of? Isn't it encouraging to you to know how quickly one can learn to read your beloved cursive, whether or not one is taught to (or wants to) rite the same way? Well, if the facts don't make you feel happy, the fault is not with the facts.

  4. I meant "write" (not "rite") the same way. Typing was not my "A" subject.