In the age of typing, does it make much sense to focus on handwriting? The answer would be a yes for anyone who is capable of writing. However, writing exercises should be considered as absolutely essential for all students in grade school. Let’s get to know why that is so and how writing exercises can help.
Why is the Practice of Handwriting So Important?
Writing with one’s hands in any language is an acquired skill which requires using a combination of basic muscle memory and complex cognitive processing at high speed. Young children are still in their developmental stages and there is a clear relationship between the practice of handwriting and cognitive development.
According to research results published by the Indiana University, learning and practicing penmanship leads to stimulation and subsequent creation of new neurocognitive connections in a child’s brain. These connections are directly related to improved memory retention, quick recall, longer attention span, improved linguistic command, faster processing, and advanced neuromotor skills.
Why are Writing Exercises So Important?
Older generations did not have any other option than to write things down by hand in school. Although that did not always make for the most ideal learning environment later, this lack of alternatives did at least ensure most children received all associated neurocognitive benefits in full. In comparison, recent generations don’t need to rely exclusively on handwriting anymore.
This is not always a bad situation to be in after you grow up, but it is not at all ideal for younger students. Unless writing exercises are integrated into their school curriculum, most children would never write as much as they should. This can hinder rounded, cognitive development in all school students, but grade-schoolers would suffer the most. If you are a grade schoolteacher yourself, you will find free 4th grade writing activities and worksheets on Studentreasures Publishing.
Can Typing Have the Same Benefits as Handwriting?
Typing on a keyboard also improves human neuromotor skills and the action has its own set of cognitive benefits, but if we are discussing young children, those benefits are minimal at best and absent at worst. To understands why typing is not comparable to writing for grade-schoolers at least, we need to discuss pattern recognition.
The aforementioned study shows that children who mostly use keyboards have a harder time reading handwritten content, even if the penmanship is excellent. This is owed to the fact that keyboard markings, printed text and digital text are almost always clearly legible with no lines connecting two or more letters/symbols.
On the other hand, children who are used to reading and writing handwritten cursive notes find it much easier to read both versions, indicating better pattern recognition skills. Pattern recognition is one of the most important and useful aspects of human intelligence, so the benefits of writing exercises are quite self-evident.
Note that the option to type is an indispensable part of higher education and the advantages cannot be denied on that level. However, handwriting will always be essential for children as it’s more than just a medium of writing down words for their developing brains.