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4 Reasons our Kids Should Learn Handwriting

In this day of computers and smartphones, should we still teach our kids handwriting? Or can we just type or tap on our devices? This question comes up regularly, and the answer has not changed even though society has.

Handwriting—or at least printing—is absolutely necessary even in modern life. We no longer need to focus on it as much as in the past, but pen and paper communication is still vital to an educated life.

  1. Learning is apparently more effective when notes are taken by hand than by computer. It is not certain why this is so, but it seems valid across the board. Also, some kinds of learning, such as math, cannot be done effectively without using pen and paper.
  2. There are numerous occasions in everyday life when it is simply more effective or handier to use pen and paper than digital devices. Handwritten thank you or sympathy cards mean much more than a text or email. Shopping lists and to do lists are compatible with our devices, but such lists  easily become temptations to check social media and other addictive apps, thus hindering progress to our goals. Brainstorming, by its very nature, benefits from using pen and paper, although there are apparently brainstorming programs.
  3. University exams are largely handwritten in most disciplines. Students’ grades suffer, sometimes significantly, if they cannot write effortlessly, legibly, quickly, and for at least three hours at a time.
  4. The final reason is perhaps more philosophical now, although it could turn out to be the most important one in the long run: Writing and reading are basic skills civilization is built on. Our current digital society has some very fragile links and is, some suggest, actually only one Carrington event away from serious and widespread disruption.

Now, handwriting is not necessarily easy to learn. Often children are taught it long before they have the physical dexterity to succeed, and this can be difficult for them and their teacher. There is nothing wrong with delaying it, as the Moores’ Better Late than Early philosophy would suggest. But, as we have found out in our family, delaying it too long can have repercussions.

In fact, not teaching some form of pen and paper communication at some point just because it is difficult, as was suggested in a recent comment to my old review of Canadian Handwriting, can significantly handicap a person’s ability to learn throughout life. It will also impact, to some extent, his or her everyday life. Of course, it is not vital to have beautiful handwriting—my Oma’s perfect script and my cousin’s calligraphy are exquisite and beyond the reach of most of us—but it is vital to have functional handwriting.

These are important things to consider as you teach your children. My recommendation:

  • We need to teach our children how to write legibly, quickly, and effortlessly. This requires practice and may be boring, but it is important for all of our children. Some children may be ready to do this at age four and some not until age ten, but all should be taught at some age.
  • If a teen is heading off to university, we need to ensure he or she is able to write quickly and for long periods of time as well as type quickly. These skills require time and practice to perfect, but they are essential.

I wish you God’s blessing as you diligently, patiently, and creatively teach your children the skills and knowledge they need.

My reviews of handwriting programs:

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