It’s strange to say, but handwriting has almost become a lost art these days. Most people can remember growing up and spending hours learning to write by hand, and study the art of cursive communication.
With all the technology and gadgets at our disposal today, you may wonder if there’s even a need at all for handwriting. Some parents have wondered this as well. Although it’s still taught in primary schools, most children are only seeing about an hour a week of handwriting lessons.
The question is often whether or not that hour can be better spent learning something else. With iPhones, computers and tablets taking over, are the days of handwriting behind us? Perhaps not. Studies have shown that handwriting can actually boost the brain function of your children.
Maybe there’s still a reason for your kids to cross their T’s.
Technology is Changing
Despite the decline in handwriting education, recent developments in technology are actually causing people to do a little bit more of it. Apple’s latest iPads come with a stylus. Well, sort of. It’s called an Apple Pencil.
“All of this beefed up handwriting tech is making it a little easier for kids to learn how to write by hand. There are numerous apps out now that can help children excel at it. Even though you’ll find less instruction in the classroom, instruction at home can actually increase,” states James Daily, content manager, and founder of Brainished blog.
Handwriting recognition has been in the works for years, but it’s really come to life recently with inventions from Apple and Google. Writing by hand isn’t dead, it has just evolved.
That still doesn’t answer the question though: how does it affect our children’s brains?
Activate Your Child’s Brain
You’ve probably heard about those tests they do where they hook your brain up to a bunch of sensors, and then they “stimulate” it. This can be by playing music, tasting, smelling or using any one of our senses.
When one of these activities happens while you’re hooked up to the sensors, different parts of the brain light up like Rockefeller square during Christmas Time. It turns out, the same thing happens with handwriting.
It’s great that it can help with dyslexia and dysgraphic issues, but what if your child doesn’t have either of those? Is it still beneficial? You bet it is.
“For the same reason that it helps those children, it will activate parts of your child’s brain that will benefit them for years to come (help to be a good student or impress future employers),” explains Tori Bailey, a content editor at CanadaWriters.
Handwriting Improves Memory
It was often taught in schools that if you wanted to remember something, you should write it down. As Amanda Sparks, a digital marketer and author of TopDownWriter reveals, this was thought to have worked in two ways.
The first is that writing means you have to actually take the information in, to input it on to paper. Teachers would use this technique to help students learn history or mathematical equations. If the child writes it down, they at least heard you.
The second way this was thought to have worked is that if you write it down, you can reference it later. This made your own handwriting a resource that you could look back. This would be like your “study notes” you’d review before a test.
It turns out, your teachers were right. However, it’s a little more advanced than that. Writing by hand actually activates parts of the brain that help you process what you’re writing remember it more completely. This is why writing by hand actually outweighs typing. Another recent study showed that those that preferred handwriting over typing in lecture halls actually retained more information.
Thoughts and Ideas
There’s also a relationship between handwriting and forming thoughts and ideas. It has to do with a study that showed “sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in thinking” as opposed to typing where you just chose the right key to smash.
“When you’re writing things by hand, your child has to compose each and every letter using different strokes and angles. This activates the brain in a way that’s different than typing. Think of it like exercise – the more muscles of the brain you use, the stronger you’ll be,” concludes Harry Barton, professional writer and editor at TopAustraliaWriters. If you just use the same one or two muscles over and over again, you’re not exercising the whole brain, which allows the rest to go soft.
These are just a few of the reasons you’ll want your child to become an expert in writing. Every parent wants the best for their child, and the same motivation that keeps your kid from eating candy all the time should be the one that gets them to write by hand every now and again.
Most people still find it convenient to jot notes down on a pad, so it’s unlikely to go away any time soon. With the benefit it has for the brain, we should definitely be teaching our children more of it.