Research shows that handwriting practice isn't just a useless task your teachers concocted to annoy you — it could actually make kids smarter.
According to Health Key, researchers found that kids who practice writing letters develop better recognition skills than those who just practice seeing and saying them. Handwriting practice also produces different brain activation patterns than verbal repetition, more similar to patterns seen in adults. Other studies have found that kids who write an essay by hand write more — and more quickly — than those who use a computer, and that they're more likely to write in complete sentences.
All this makes a certain amount of intuitive sense. Occupational therapist Katya Feder tells Health Key that writing by hand "integrates motor pathways into the brain" — and indeed, handwriting engages the body in a way that typing doesn't. Each stroke of a key feels pretty much the same as any other, but each letter formed by hand is unique, and it's no surprise that kids grow more accustomed to the alphabet when they're asked to write it out. Nor is it shocking that kids write more quickly and prolifically when they do so with a pen — I first started writing longhand as a way to combat writer's block, and I've sworn by the technique ever since. A lot of its appeal has to do with its physicality — it easier to get a flow going on the page than on the screen, and the feeling that I'm doing something helps me keep going.
Of course, the other perk of a pen is that it's not connected to the internet, and I wonder if the kids who were composing essays on the computer were simply distracted from their work by the machine's many other offerings. Many of the benefits of handwriting are no doubt real, but some of them are illusory — research shows the same paper gets a better grade when it's written neatly than when it's scrawled (no word on how a typed version would measure up). So kids, practice your handwriting — if it doesn't actually make you smarter, at least it will make people think you are.
The Many Health Perks Of Good Handwriting [Health Key]
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