Friday, September 2, 2011

Handwriting and Learning


Pediatric occupational therapists spend a significant of time working on the handwriting skills of students. With all of the technology that is available today, more and more children are not getting the handwriting practice they once were (nor are adults for that matter). Now 44 states have adopted the Common Core Curriculum Standards which does not include cursive instruction. It is not just about learning to write words though. Here are some research studies that have shown a connection between how the brain learns and handwriting:
  • MRI studies have shown that handwriting can help to learn letters and shapes and improve writing composition and ideas
  • Functional MRI results showed that children had enhanced neural activity when handwriting letters rather than just viewing letters
  • When comparing writing by hand to typing on a keyboard, the subjects who wrote by hand had improved and longer lasting recognition of the proper orientation of characters
  • Children in 2nd, 4th and 6th grade had improved writing in terms of word count, speed and expression of ideas when hand writing versus using a keyboard
  • Test scores can be influenced by handwriting legibility
So the next time someone suggests that children do not need to practice handwriting due to the digital age, you can refer to some of the above research to justify why handwriting should continue to be taught.

To read more on this topic you can go to the Wall Street Journal article. Below is a video on the same topic.



References:
Lerner, E. When Cursive Cried Wolf. Retrieved from the web at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2011/08/when-cursive-cried-wolf-1.html

Bounds, G. How Handwriting Trains the Brain. Retrieved from the web at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.html

5 comments:

Jen's OT for Kids said...

I've noticed more parents and teachers are acknowledging the importance of handwriting instruction as students are required to complete a hand written section on state tests and college entrance exams. OT's can be great advocates for getting kids the instruction they need!

Jen
http://jensotforkids.blogspot.com/

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

I am happy to hear that. Based on what I have read in the media lately, it seems as if many school districts are not focusing on handwriting feeling that technology with eliminate the need for handwriting. It could be regional as well.

Jen's OT for Kids said...

Yes, that is in the media around me as well---maybe what I mean to say is that I've had so many parents and teachers "panic" because of test scores being influenced by poor handwriting. I've used the "issue" as a platform to stress that it's really important to start at an early age and get kids on the right track for a more successful academic experience. Most of our local districts are very financially strapped now due to severe funding cuts. I've tried to educate our administrators that they could save money by instructing all children a few minutes a day on handwriting, thereby reducing the time and money spent on OT referrals and intervention. Definitely helps for OT's to advocate and educate :)

Jen
http://jensotforkids.blogspot.com/

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

I agree 100% - pediatric therapists need to educate and advocate more than ever now. We need to start younger and younger than once they hit elementary school.

Jen's OT for Kids said...

Oh my goodness, I AGREE!! That's why I love to work in my early childhood classes where everyone is a clean slate, ready to learn :)

Jen :)
http://jensotforkids.blogspot.com/