Dyslexia and Handwriting

With cursive writing being dropped from some of the public schools’ curriculum and teachers using it in the classroom less and less, I have been asked by homeschool moms what I think about continuing to teach cursive. I feel it is important, but I wanted to give more information to moms in order to help make an informed decision for handwriting instruction.  I have discovered that cursive is helpful to all students, but particularly dyslexic students. The School of Dyslexia, a blog for educators of dyslexic students, had a great article about this topic.

“Research shows that cursive improves dynamic interplay in the brain, improves fine motor skills, and can help improve the memory of the written concept.The research points to cursive writing engaging massive regions of the brain involving thinking, while typing or block printing keeps the generation of letters separate and less connective thought is involved.  When we are cursive writing, we are making connections from the right side and the left side of the brain; this helps build neural pathways and can increase mental effectiveness.  The brain is plastic, by which I mean it can change depending on how we train it, and cursive writing can help make the right and left-brain connections stronger.

As a school that teaches primarily to dyslexics, we often have students with fine motor challenges.  We often have students that have challenges with doing up buttons, tying shoes, these sorts of tasks.  Cursive writing naturally develops sensory skills, as the student understands angles, pencil position, and mostly motor planning to form each letter in a fluid motion from left to right.
Finally, memory can be greatly affected by the use of cursive.  As letters are connected to form words, more attention is given to the entire word, and by extension the entire thought.  It is easier for students, especially dyslexic and ADD students to think about what they are writing without losing their focus.  The continued attention and fluidity in writing often results in more long-term memory of the concepts.”

source: Derek Rhodenizer,Vice Principal, Heritage Academy 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  from a post on School of Dyslexia

Here are some websites that have handwriting worksheets for you to customize:

Handwriting Worksheets

Worksheet Works

5 thoughts on “Dyslexia and Handwriting

  1. This is great info, Lisa. After my third son was diagnosed with dyslexia, I was looking for a curriculum that would teach the rest of my kids to read in the best way possible. I’ve read that if you have one dyslexic student, chances are that 50% of the siblings are as well. So I wanted to start the right way with the younger kids! I found a great curriculum called Logic of English, but they encourage cursive from the very beginning. Seemed strange to me, but I gave it a shot with my then 5yo son. It has been amazing! He is definitely a struggling reader, but his handwriting is great. I have seen so many benefits– he never struggles with letter reversal because in cursive, commonly reversed letters are formed very differently. I haven’t had to work on letter and word spacing issues with him either– letters are connected within the word, and the unconnected words form a natural space. My older children sometimes just run a whole sentence together with their printing! Finally, learning how to write the letters was actually easier, because every letter begins in the same place– on the baseline. We avoided the stress of remembering where to put the pencil down on the paper at the beginning of the letter. I highly recommend starting with cursive!

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