Decline of Cursive Handwriting-A Lost Art Form

The Decline of Cursive Writing has been gradually happening since 2001. But, I’m wondering if that was a good decision. I knew that some of the state’s school systems had started not to teach cursive handwriting anymore and my state was one of them. However, I had not really given that change in education much thought because it didn’t affect me personally. But, I was wrong.

Recently, I had written a thank you note to my nine year old granddaughter for a gift she had made me for my birthday. As she excitedly opened the note to read it, she looked a little disappointed and said, “Grammy, I don’t know what this says. I can’t read cursive.” I, of course, read it to her, but I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. One because the excitement of getting a note from “Grammy” was gone, but also I was afraid she might feel “less than” or “stupid” by not being able to read cursive writing. I wonder how and why this decision was made.

Schools Share in the Decline of Cursive Writing

As I stated earlier, the shift to remove teaching Cursive Writing from the curriculum began in 2001. Actually, in 2010, it was the U.S. government that formally removed learning cursive writing from the required Common Core Standards for K-12 education. (These Standards being a level of competency in English, Language Arts and Math. Students are expected to have these competencies by the time they graduate from high school.) This began the decline of cursive handwriting.

The thoughts behind this decision came from our society’s advancement in technology and the increased use of laptops and tablets, frankly replacing paper. So, the powers to be in education and government decided that with the increase in communicating online it was a better use of time in the schools to concentrate on teaching digital literacy and keyboard proficiency. They believe that these skills are more relevant in today’s workforce.

In January, 2022 I found this information on States teaching cursive writing and it showed the following States had totally removed cursive handwriting instruction completely from the curriculum in their schools. Note: all other states chose to make cursive instruction optional or supplementary:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Illinois
  3. Indiana
  4. Massachusetts
  5. North Carolina
  6. Tennesse
decline of cursive-child practicing cursive handwriting

But, now in 2024 I am happy to discover that those as concerned as myself (parents, educators and politicians) have been recognizing the value of teaching cursive handwriting. Now 23 states are required to teach cursive handwriting in their public schools. Maybe now will begin the reversal of the decline of cursive writing. I will say that I was concerned to see that 7 of those states don’t introduce it until 5th grade. I hate to be judgemental here, but to me that appears to simply be an afterthought. But, I am encouraged that attention is being paid to this matter.

The Art of Cursive Handwriting-Mastery of Loops and Links

In my generation, my childrens’ and my college age grandchildrens’, learning cursive handwriting was a major subject in our elementary schools. It was one of the classes that I got an actual grade in, and I took pride in getting a good grade in “handwriting.” It was a skill that children were taught that improved fine motor skills and cognitive development. But, I think it has even more value than that. I am not at all happy with this phasing out of cursive handwriting because I consider it an “art form”.

decline of cursive-pretty handwritten letter

The art of cursive handwriting is a fancy writing style. It joins letters together with loops and links in a flowing, smooth manner. It takes hours of practice and some educators feel the time investment is not worth it and the time should be more concentrated on learning keyboarding (typing) and skills more useful in our modern world.

But, I can’t help but feel, that it is important to continue teaching cursive writing and hanging onto this “art form”. Letter writing is all but dead and I think it is an important mode of communication. I do see the value of a quick text or email for information that is urgent. However, receiving a written letter from a loved one or friend can significantly warm the heart. I remember receiving written letters from my sister-in-law in another state and enjoying seeing her beautiful handwriting and the joy of getting a letter in the mail. Somehow, I just felt her presence by looking at that written word.

Introduce Cursive to Your Young Learners

Are you a parent or grandparent of a young child and would like them to learn cursive handwriting? There is alot of help out there. You can find interactive programs and apps and there are many tutors that teach cursive handwriting (just check your local area). However, if you want to do the teaching yourself, it can be a very rewarding experience. Just prepare yourself with lots of helpful resources. There are free practice worksheets and low-cost workbooks available everywhere. There are so many choices for learning and teaching materials out there, I’m sure you will find something that works perfectly for you.

Adding something else to your already busy schedule is always challenging. One thought I had was to incorporate their learning cursive writing into everyday activities, like helping to write the grocery list, signing their name on all cards and notes. You could even introduce them to the wonderful world of “letter writing”. Wouldn’t it be great to bring back the “pen pal”? Note: If you’re too young to know what that term is, you’ve proven my point about the “lost arts”. LOL

In Conclusion of the Decline of Cursive Writing

This article may have appeared as a personal “rant”. However, I do value all the advancements we have made in our society. All the new technologies in our digital world is both exciting to learn and necessary for us. However, I do think it is important to hang on to (in some small way) parts of our historical legacy. Just imagine all the children that are unable to read the original Declaration of Independence. I believe that is a statement in itself.

decline of cursive-child raising hand while working on laptop

Are you a parent, grandparent, teacher, or someone just concerned about the direction our educational system is taking today? A new and unique alternative is available that allows for the flexibility in your child’s education that you’ve been looking for. This is a new online platform that will teach children “facts” and is going back to basics. Who know they may even agree with me and bring back teaching the “art form” cursive writing.