New Jersey Moves to Require Students to Learn Cursive Handwriting in School

A cursive handwriting chart is seen in a file photo. (Credit: KTLA)

A cursive handwriting chart is seen in a file photo. (Credit: KTLA)

Should children be required to learn cursive?

A New Jersey legislator says so. Assemblywoman Angela McKnight has introduced a bill that would require elementary schools to teach kids how to read and write in the graceful, flowing loops taught to previous generations as a matter of course.

You remember cursive handwriting. It’s what we use to sign our names on, say, a check or other legal document. It’s fallen out of favor in the digital age, even getting dropped from Common Core standards in 2010.

Since then, many schools have stopped teaching it, New Jersey Assembly Democrats say.

“In some cases, children are entering middle school without knowing how to sign their own name in cursive,” McKnight (D-Hudson) said in a statement. “We are doing our children a disservice by not teaching them a vital skill they will need for the rest of their lives.”

California, Texas, North Carolina and other states have moved to encourage cursive in recent years.

“Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive?” McKnight said.

Even in the days of texting, some research shows cursive still can improve cognitive development, spelling and writing speed.

“When writing cursive, the word becomes a unit, rather than a series of separate strokes, and correct spelling is more likely to be retained,” says the International Dyslexia Association. “The Declaration of Independence and many other important archival documents are written in cursive. A cursive signature is more difficult to forge than a printed one.”

Research also shows that we learn more when taking notes in longhand compared to taking notes on, say, a laptop.

“Knowing how to write in cursive isn’t only for writing ‘thank you’ cards to Grandma — research suggests it can boost kids’ reading and writing skills, too,” says publishing company Scholastic.

The bill was introduced in the state legislature last month and is heading to the education committee for review.

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