Research-Based (Not Reading-Based)
In our digital age, it’s tempting to see handwriting as optional. But handwriting is still a key foundational skill for literacy development. Explicit instruction in handwriting supplements what students may—or may not—be getting from a reading-based program. In fact, Zaner-Bloser programs are proven effective for developing all types of literacy skills, including reading!
Self-generated action, in the form of handwriting, is a crucial component in setting up brain systems for reading acquisition. (James, 2010)
Children with stronger fine-motor skills do better not only in literacy tasks such as letter writing, but also in kindergarten math; in addition, these skills are associated with ongoing reading and math achievement as late as fifth grade. (Dinehart, et al., 2014)
For developmentally typical students in grades 4–7, fluent cursive writing consistently predicted both higher level spelling and composing skills at each grade. (Alstad, et al., 2015)
Research results show that fluency in handwriting is strongly related to the quality and quantity of students’ complex written texts as late as grade 8. (Christensen and Jones, 2013)
People who take handwritten notes process information better than those who type notes on a laptop. (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014) Students who type notes tend to record what they hear verbatim, whereas those who take handwritten notes are more apt to write more reflectively as they translate what they are learning into their own words.
See citations below.
Often overlooked in today’s busy classrooms, cursive handwriting is key for continued literacy development in grades 2–6. Did you know?
Cursive may activate parts of the brain that lead to increased language fluency.
Cursive reduces distractions by increasing focus, which also fosters creativity.
Cursive connects us to our past through primary source documents.
Fluent cursive consistently predicts more skillful composing and better spelling at grades 4–7.
Research supports teaching cursive in the middle and adolescent grades. Download this white paper to read more about the research cited here.
Alstad, Z., Sanders, E., Abbott, R., Barnett, A., Hendersen, S., Connelly, V., & Berninger, V. (2015). Modes of alphabet letter production during middle childhood and adolescence: Interrelationships with each other and other writing skills. Journal of Writing Research, 6(3), 199–231.
Christensen, C. & Jones, D. (2000). Handwriting: An underestimated skill in the development of written language. Handwriting Today, 2, 56–60.
Dinehart, L. (2014). Handwriting in early childhood education: Current research and future implications. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(1), 97–118.
James, K. H. (2010). Sensori-motor experience leads to changes in visual processing in the developing brain. Developmental Science. 13(2), 279–288.
Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the laptop: Advantages of longhand over laptop note-taking. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159–1168.