Writing

Is It Okay to Teach Cursive in 2nd Grade?

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cursive post

Last spring I found myself talking about 2nd grade cursive with the moms at dance who teach elementary school. The younger ones thought it was a bad idea, but they said that I should check with an elementary-teaching dance grandma there. Dance Grandma said, “Sure.”

My daughter was chomping at the bit to learn cursive, and I’d read that cursive is great for kids who write with letter reversals. With the blessing of Dance Grandma, I ordered Zaner-Bloser 2C workbooks for my kids.

After laboring our way through the Handwriting Without Tears program to learn printing, I was ready to let my kids’ printing be. After all, I’d paid my dues of hovering over each child every day to make sure their letters were formed from top to bottom, left to right, that their t’s started all the way at the top line and went all the way down to the bottom line.

So, I did. I let their printing be a thing I considered done, that I didn’t have to supervise anymore.

Whoops.

After Christmas, when I took my kids to a cognitive assessment, it was a little bit of a kick in the pants to hear that my kids’ handwriting was an area of concern. Aside from letter reversals, they were back to forming lots of letters incorrectly. The reason why makes a lot of sense.

When you write in cursive, where do you almost always start to form the letter? At the bottom. It’s that pushing up motion that confused my kids, and it makes sense that they also started feeling like the right thing was pushing up to create print letters as well.

What would I do differently?

I’d still go ahead with cursive. When kids want to learn something, by all means, help them do it. That’s the biggest job we’re here to do.

But I’d continue with supervised printing practice through copywork. I was so ready to be DONE with print handwriting instruction because it’s no fun for either of us when I’m hovering over the child’s shoulder to ensure that he “took the t from the top,” but this spring I’ve had to suck it up and do just that to reteach something that I mentally checked off as proficient before it was really solid in the kids’ muscle memory.

Now we’ll continue both handwriting styles, and I’ll run them into the ground to develop automaticity.

So is it okay to teach cursive? Probably. And it’s a definite yes if you have a child who has developed writing fluency by the end of first grade.

Just be sure that you’re continuing to provide supervised practice in print also.

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