Cursive handwriting in Idaho schools: How it may be benefiting our students

"We've been teaching cursive at the third grade level for as long as i can remember." Becca Anderson says. (KBOI photo)

Cursive handwriting.

It's been taught in Idaho schools for centuries, but with the rise of technology its importance is now being questioned across the nation.

"We've been teaching cursive at the third grade level for as long as I can remember."

More than a dozen states require cursive proficiency in public schools.

Idaho is one of them.

"The state did a statewide adoption of cursive - it's called Handwriting without Tears and it actually builds from printing your letters all the way to 3rd grade cursive."

Back in 2013, lawmakers passed a bill that requires cursive be taught in in the classroom.

Supporters say it improves students' motor and composition skills.

But that's not all.

Becca Anderson, the language arts supervisor for Boise School District, says there are other benefits.

"Printing for actually some of our students presents as a real challenge, there are a lot of crossed lines and diagonal strokes you have to make in printing that you don't have to make in cursive."

Some script skeptics question the advantage of cursive writing over printing.

But Anderson says cursive is proven to help with speed in note taking, and even memory retention.

"The interesting thing is you can't really make a distinction in research between printing and cursive, but what we feel is you should have the opportunity to learn cursive."

And with the rise of technology in and out of the classroom, Anderson says, teaching language arts is all about balance.

"I mean they are digital natives right so they've always had a phone or an ipad or a chromebook, they are used to those things."

She says the way students process information is changing.

She believes the future will tell if taking out cursive will affect their learning.

"i think it will be interesting to see like when they are doing studies on students that are students now, if it's actually more important, the big thing is retention."

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