In this digital age do our children still need to learn handwriting? We all use word processors, we use keyboards or key pads to email, text and play digital games. Technology allows us to simply tap a key to form letters. So what benefits are there in learning hand writing?
A 2012 study in the Journal of Child Development suggests learning the alphabet by manipulating each letter helps students imprint and retain the letters and the letter sounds for easier recall when learning to read. Learning letters through writing them involves numerous tactile experiences, it requires the controlling of fine motor skills as well as the use of our eyes; for example, when children learn how to form the letter ‘b’, they can also be learning its sound. Focussing on the linkages of handwriting, reading, and spelling skills can help to reinforce early achievement across these areas.
The research article also suggests that handwriting improves memory, suggesting that students retain their learning of letters better when working with new ideas through handwriting. The research showed the activation of regions of the brain for reading are activated during handwriting. The article also showed a link between the learning of handwriting to the development of the skills of concentration.
Another personal consideration for developing handwriting skills is the value we put on notes to friends and family, birthday cards and notes of thanks or encouragement or congratulations on some achievement. We all appreciate the gift of a cherished handwritten note and often will keep them as memories for life.
Our students growing up in the 21st Century also need keyboarding and technology skills.