Does handwriting have a future, is it still relevant?

Handwriting is crucial for many reasons but certainly because it is one of the things that sets us apart as being human. No one can deny the pleasure of receiving a personal handwritten note over a printed mass produced one.


Recent brain scan studies have shown that early handwriting skill helps children learn to read. Typing on a key board – keyboarding- doesn’t have this effect. Cursive as a form of handwriting is as important. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers and brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding. The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument.


In this computer age attention to the benefits of writing has been forgotten in classrooms as an upheaval has occurred in how this skill is taught and practiced. The lessons have become sporadic and cursive writing is giving way to printing.  The consequences of this can be seen in corporate offices and in personal communications.


In contrast to this phenomenon, scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization” - that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of the brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing, as opposed to typing or just visual practice. [1]


Other research highlights the hand's unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor at the University of Washington, reported her study of children in grades two, four and six that revealed they wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.[4]

There is a whole field of research known as “haptics,” which includes the interactions of touch, hand movements, and brain function. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity. [5]


There are more reasons to continue learning and writing cursive:





1. It’s better for learning 2. It’s makes you a better writer 3. It will prevent you from being distracted 4. It keeps your brain sharp as you get older.


  • A University of Chicago study demonstrated that students could combat test anxiety and improve test performance by writing about their worries immediately before tests (Journal Science, 2012).


  • Cursive writing has proved to even support higher SAT scores. That is, the College Board found that students who wrote in cursive for the essay portion of the SAT scored slightly higher than those who printed, which experts believe is because the speed and efficiency of writing in cursive allowed the students to focus on the cohesion of ideas in their essays through the mirror of the connected cursive stroke.


  • The Rand Nelson of Peterson Directed Handwriting believes that when children are exposed to cursive handwriting, changes occur in their brains that allow a child to overcome motor challenges. He says, the act of physically gripping a pen or pencil and practicing the swirls, curls and connections of cursive handwriting activates parts of the brain that lead to increased language fluency. That is, cursive writing ability affords us the opportunity to naturally train these fine motor skills by taking advantage of a child’s inability to fully control his fingers. This means cursive writing acts as a building block rather than as a stressor, providing a less strenuous learning experience.


For much more visit: 




[1] James, Karin H. an Atwood, Thea P. (2009).The role of sensorimotor learning in the perception of letter-like forms: Tracking the causes of neural specialization for letters. Cognitive Neuropsychology.26 (1), 91-100.

[3] James, K.H. and Engelhardt, L. (2013). The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Trends in Neuroscience and Education. Article in press.

[4] Berninger, V. “Evidence-Based, Developmentally Appropriate Writing Skills K–5: Teaching the Orthographic Loop of Working Memory to Write Letters So Developing Writers Can Spell Words and Express Ideas.” Presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century?: An Educational Summit, Washington, D.C., January 23, 2012. 

[5] Mangen, A., and Velay, J. –L. (2010). Digitizing literacy: reflections on the haptics of writing. In Advances in Haptics, edited by M. H. Zadeh.

DISCLAIMER: The reports that I provide consitute my own personal forensic examiner/professional graphologist/statement analyser expertise and opinion. All reports are treated as confidential. No handwriting analyses will be undertaken without agreement to terms and conditions which include the consent of the writer except for forensic handwriting examination cases where consent is not always available.  Terry Elmaleh +27(0)825567121

© 2016 Handwriting Analyst