Childrearing

Say Goodbye To Cursive. And Your Kids’ Fine Motor Skills.

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Say Goodbye To Cursive  And Your Kids  Fine Motor Skills  78367017 300x252 jpgWhen I first read this New York Times story on how schools no longer teach cursive handwriting, my first thought was “I’m old.” I can vividly recall an upbringing that largely predated computers and cell phones. While I’m hardly a luddite — I’m almost afraid of typing this on my gleaming, 24-inch, aluminum iMac for fear of hurting its feelings — I do wonder about the deleterious effects of technology on children. From The Times:

Sandy Schefkind, a pediatric occupational therapist in Bethesda, Md., and pediatric coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association, said that learning cursive helped students hone their fine motor skills. 

“It’s the dexterity, the fluidity, the right amount of pressure to put with pen and pencil on paper,” Ms. Schefkind said, adding that for some students cursive is easier to learn than printing.

While printing might be legible, the less complex the handwriting, the easier it is to forge, said Heidi H. Harralson, a graphologist in Tucson. Even though handwriting can change — and become sloppier — as a person ages, people who are not learning or practicing it are at a disadvantage, Ms. Harralson said.

“I’m seeing an increase in inconstancy in the handwriting and poor form level — sloppy, semi-legible script that’s inconsistent,” she said.

Oh well, I guess kids will have to develop those fine motor skills playing video games. Wait… that doesn’t seem like a good idea either. While it would be foolish not to embrace the benefits of technology, I feel kids have much to gain by spending as much time as they can engaging skills necessary for accomplishing things in our messy and tactile analog world. Sure we have computer programs that can solve just about any problem in known calculus, but we still teach kids math because learning how to do derivatives is good for their mental development, right?

It’s all about laying the right foundation — I feel like spending years with Crayons and pencils before moving on to Photoshop will foster better development for kids in the long-run. Or am I just an old fogey for thinking this way? Aside from handwriting, I wonder what other valuable skills new technology is depriving our kids of…

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