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Ask the Occupational Therapist

Can all students learn cursive?

This edition’s $50.00 Amazon gift card winner is Sharon Robins, Faith Christian High School, Arvada, CO! Here is her winning question:

“I have been told by some ‘specialists’ that some students, such as those with dyslexia, cannot learn cursive and that they should not be required to try to learn cursive. What do you think? Can all students learn cursive?”

Dear Sharon,

Great question! Any handwriting, whether it is cursive or manuscript, requires the coordination between fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, visual perception, and literacy. The student needs to understand and be able to read each letter. Reading cursive writing is not part of our every day environment, which limits a student's exposure. Most students are not exposed to the writing or reading of this type of print until it is introduced in school. Children with dyslexia already have difficulty reading which could include decoding letter forms from both visual and literacy aspects. Some children may not be able to recognize or read cursive letterforms, which would make it extremely difficult to write these same letterforms. Best practice tells us that a child needs to be able to recognize cursive letters prior to learning to write them. So, the short answer is, yes, some students may not be able to learn to write in cursive. The child's team needs to take into consideration all aspects of the child's learning strengths and weakness. Writing of any kind needs to become automatic so that the child's brain is freed up for grammar, composition, and other writing skills to communicate a thought, knowledge, or want, which is the whole reason for handwriting.

Thank you for your question. We hope this information is helpful!

Zaner-Bloser’s panel of occupational therapists is here to support your efforts to improve your students' handwriting. Tell us about specific handwriting concerns or questions you may have.

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