Handwriting is a physical skill. It is the only physical skill that is taught and learned in two diverse ways. Play a saxophone, play soccer; name any other physical skill and there is just one way to do it. Once the basics are learned, the individual will add his or her own style, but that’s not a method change.

Of all that has been written about whether or not cursive should continue to be taught, this one article stands out: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/cursive-handwriting-philip-ball/. Philip Ball makes no “factual” reference to research that proves cursive is beneficial to the workings of our brains. Such references, often made, are misquotes. In actuality, the only thing that has been determined is that writing by hand, regardless of method, improves cognition.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so here’s why it’s a bad idea to teach two methods. Please look carefully at the little arrows. They show all the movement changes that a child must learn. As an initial guide just a few letters are colored orange. You are encouraged to look for other differences. In essence, children must unlearn stroke sequence, direction, and letter shapes that have been implanted in their earliest years, and then learn another alphabet, all for the one physical skill of handwriting.

The two alphabets are generic. You may know some variants of shape and formation. One program teaches the cursive as upright; another teaches a slanted basic alphabet, but the child still must learn new shapes and movements.

If older students and adults revert to what they first learned, and write a hybrid print script, is it not a natural result?

Here is a solution, the italic method. The youngest child learns the basic italic alphabet. With no changes of stroke direction and shape, the basic letters become cursive italic. Most joins simply drift up or over to a following letter. Learning this skill is simplified. As one’s individual style develops, modification will occur.

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