By: Krystle Crossman
With the digital age upon us we handwrite less and less. Everything is done by computers these days. We write emails instead of letters. We type out essays and print them instead of handwriting them. Even doctor’s prescriptions are typed and printed. Will there be a day soon when we see handwriting fade altogether? Does it even matter? How important is handwriting anyway? According to some, not important at all but a 2012 study out of Indiana University begs to differ.
Researchers have found that when things are handwritten we have a better connection with the words that we are writing. It also helps when we read words. Handwriting fires pathways in the brain that lead to better reading skills as well as comprehension skills. The Common Core standards focus on handwriting in kindergarten and first grade only and then move right to learning how to type. What does this do to the reading skills of our children?
Karin James led the Indiana University study. Children were given a letter and then told to duplicate the letter three different ways. They could trace it, draw it freehand on a blank piece of paper, or they could type it out on a keyboard. They put monitors on the children to measure brain activity while they were completing this exercise. What they found is that the reading and writing center of the brain was very active when they chose to draw the letters themselves. When they traced the letter or typed it out there was very little activity in those areas of the brain.
Dr. James stated that the extra activity is because there is a lot more thought that goes into drawing the letter. You have to look at the letter, think about its shape, and then make a plan as to how to draw it accordingly. With a keyboard all you have to do is look for a button and hit it. With tracing all you have to do is follow a black line.