Dear Doctor, 

I am of an age when we had to learn cursive writing. If I recall, it was in the fourth grade. My grandchildren do not know how to write in cursive, and their printing is very sloppy and hard to read. Is there some reason why it is not taught and does learning cursive help children?

Grandma

Dear Grandma,

Cursive has been replaced with the keyboard. Blame technology.

The jury, in my opinion, is still out as to whether it is helpful for youngsters to learn.

For example, there is a school of thought that argues children with dyslexia (reading problems) are helped by learning cursive. The argument insists the brain responds neuroplastically to the flow and rhythm of the cursive experience. In my opinion, this is simply not sustained with solid research.

Then, others have argued brain development, in general, improves with cursive as opposed to printing. Studies at the University of Indiana have not sustained this notion either.

The computer is here to stay, and most children by age 10 can fly over the keyboard.

Speaking personally, I see writing samples from evaluating numerous teens. They print and it is variable as to spatial control and being readable. Usually, they print as rapidly as cursive would likely allow them to write.

I confess my handwriting is terrible, but it always has been. It was horrid in the fourth grade when Miss Ingrahm was instructing us in cursive. My wife writes with a lovely cursive, so she gets to address the Christmas cards. 

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lrryllrsn@CS.com.

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