Handwriting Without Tears… Wait, For Real?

I’ve been on the fence about cursive for years. Well, you know, since she started “grade one” (quotes to accommodate unschooling). Do kids need cursive? I’ve read lots of conflicting views (yes, this is what homeschooling parents do – read conflicting views on the merits of cursive writing). It seems that it boils down to, on one side: why bother; why fight kids to make them learn something tedious when it’s not necessary; it’s outdated and who cares anyway? vs. Scientific studies whose findings suggest that learning and writing in cursive is good for fine motor skills and can help a child to have better reading and spelling skills (this article sums up the arguments, both scientific and otherwise).

As I do on a lot of things, I fell somewhere in the middle. I’d love for Neko to learn cursive, for the reasons outlined (and because it’s good to have options when it comes to writing, and also because how else will she develop a cursive signature?). When you’re good at it, cursive can also offer a more efficient method of writing by hand, which I can appreciate as a journalist.

On the other hand, if it’s going to be a fight, I just don’t think that I care enough.

With those points in mind, I haven’t pushed the issue. Cursive showed up in her Brainquest workbooks in grade two or three and she hated the exercises, so I left it alone.

However, this winter we took a trip to the educational supply store and Neko spotted Handwriting Without Tears on the shelf. We discussed whether she’d be willing to give it a try and suddenly – thanks to the book or a different stage of brain development, I’m really not sure – she was totally into it.

The verdict? Well, she’s been using it since about January, and she picks it up willingly to do one or more lessons at least a couple days a week. She now knows cursive almost completely and she mostly loves writing in cursive. And there was never a fight, very minimal frustration (she thinks “tow truck letters,” as they call them {for instance, when an “o” comes before a “w” and they have to link at the top rather than the bottom} are “dumb,” but that’s inherent to cursive writing, not an issue with the book or its method of teaching), and no tears to be sure.

I have to say I’m pretty pleased. She can write in cursive! That wasn’t even in our learning plan for the year!


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