Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Cursive is Faster
A year ago Katie Zezima wrote an article for the New York Times about the decline in handwriting. There were over 220 comments to that article. The most frequently stated reason for why people chose to write in cursive was that it was faster to produce. At the University of Western Ontario, Canada, Marvin Simmner PhD conducted a study that showed students who wrote in cursive indeed were faster writers than those who printed.
When we look at printing it certainly looks like it would take less movement and energy to produce, so logically then it should be faster. The reason printing is not faster is because every letter requires you to lift the pen from the paper, sometimes more than once. Those pen lifts take time, and the short bits of time it takes for each pen lift add up. The visual I like to compare this to is if you have a stack of books at one end of the table and you want to move them to the other end of the table, you can either slide them over (similar to cursive) or lift them and carry them (similar to printing).
Even printing by young children is changing yet again. Teachers are accepting their individual ways of forming the letters. For example, a lower case "p" can be made like a candy cane starting with the hook part and going up and around to the left. Similarly, with the lower case "m & n," one or two humps is acceptable without the straight stroke first. As long as it's a reasonable facsimile of the letter, it is acceptable.
Now that children are on school vacation, parents are looking for activities to keep the little ones busy. I'll end with a few suggestions for activities that help develop both the fine and gross motor skills that are used for handwriting:
Give children an empty detergent bottle and a pail of water. They can fill the bottle, twist on the top and then "paint" the driveway or sidewalk with water. This activity helps to build hand strength and dexterity in the fingers.
If you have containers with various sized nails, screws, nuts and bolts children can keep busy sorting them by size and type and putting them in smaller containers or small plastic bags. Older children can also learn the names of the fasteners and what they are used for. This helps develop the fine motor skills.
Summertime is a great time to have Wheel Barrel Races in the grass. One child holds the legs of the other child who tries to get to a line a few feet ahead walking on their hands. This is great for strengthening the arms and wrists.