Just when you thought cursive might be destined for the same fate as corded phones and VCRs, the flowing script is making a comeback. Arizona public schools have joined the growing list of states that require cursive as part of their curricula. The decision to require students to master cursive by the fifth grade was one of a number of new education standards approved by the state Board of Education.
According to the state’s College and Career Read Standards, which amend the federal guidelines of the Common Core, Arizona public school students will be expected to read and write cursive letters (in both upper and lower cases) starting in third grade and be fully proficient in cursive by fifth grade.
Arizona isn’t the first state to require cursive to be taught in the classroom. In June, Louisiana passed a law requiring traditional public and public charter schools begin teaching cursive by third grade and continue through 12th grade. Other states that have added cursive writing requirements to their state education standards include North Carolina, Kansas, California, Florida, and Texas.
While many of us may have abandoned cursive for a hodgepodge of print and script, studies have shown that learning cursive engages the brain more deeply, hones fine motor skills, improves spelling and comprehension, and gives children a better idea of how words work together in combination.
“There’s a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting. That’s not what our research is showing,” Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor who has studied the effect of handwriting on child development, told the Washington Post earlier this year. "What we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster, and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting—printing or cursive—than if they used the keyboard.”
So get a sheet of dotted-line paper, and start practicing your P’s and Q’s!