Handwriting is first taught in Pre-K and Elementary school not just so students can learn to form letters and then words, but as a foundation for long-term educational success. In our past articles, we’ve explored the demise of handwriting and why it needs to be brought back into schools. Handwriting not only helps children learn to read and comprehend more complex subject material, it builds the visual word form area in the brain. Once this area is developed, it grows to encompass letters and phonics, as well as reading and writing comprehension.
“Handwriting is an essential piece in the foundation for reading and writing because of all the incredible benefits it has,“ said Dr. Elizabeth DeWitt, a handwriting and curriculum expert with Learning Without Tears. DeWitt explained that being able to write answers to tests legibly, or thoughts on paper without thinking about the formation of the letters, is the hallmark of a successful student. While schools have been forced to make choices between handwriting instruction and keeping up with other curriculum needs, it’s time – as Alabama, Louisiana, and California schools have done –to reimplement handwriting education to ensure not just academic success but to prepare students for success for rest of their lives.
A study of UCLA and Princeton students compared the value of notes taken on a laptop versus those that were handwritten. The study found that the students who wrote their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in utilizing the information they took notes on.
“They consistently see that those who took notes by hand had greater memory than those who used a device and even had verbatim notes,” said DeWitt. The material noted on devices was not applied as well as those who handwrote notes. In college and throughout life, handwriting is an important skill, from meeting notes to job applications.
Aside from the career-focused benefits, handwriting also helps bring numerous benefits to your brain and mental and cognitive health. “According to research, the skill of handwriting boosts cognitive ability, coordinates both sides of the brain, it uses more of the brain, sharpens aging minds, inspires creativity, improves memory, and has a calming effect on your brain,” explained DeWitt. With handwriting skills enforced at a young age, adults will reap its benefits for years to come, which makes handwriting an imperative early education skill.
In our next article, we take a look at how handwriting technology can be used across all ages.