Handwriting Could Make Your Kids Smarter

Illustration for article titled Handwriting Could Make Your Kids Smarter

Research shows that handwriting practice isn't just a useless task your teachers concocted to annoy you — it could actually make kids smarter.

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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]

Image via EtiAmmos/Shutterstock.com

DISCUSSION

lovessquirrels
barelylethal: shitass

I believe this. My boyfriend lived in Canada when he was younger in an area where they didn't teach cursive, so he learned to print. I don't want to say his written communication skills are lacking (they are not), but while in college he did struggle with getting a flow going for papers.

Also, he cannot read my grocery lists unless I write them in printing. His parents had him tested for a learning disability when they moved back to the States because he insisted he couldn't read what the teacher was writing on the board. It wasn't until he pointed to his mom's grocery list and said "SEE! I can't read that either!" that they realized what was going on there.

I noticed that when I was in college and grad school, the most effective way for me to study was by taking handwritten notes in class, then gathering all my study materials and outlining by hand. Then taking those handwritten study materials and typing them on a computer. By then I'd already seen everything at least three times, and I would study the print outs (with notes in the margins, etc). It wasn't totally fool proof, and it took forever, but it was much more effective for me than copy/pasting from the intertubes and/or highlighting a book. For all of my reading assignments I took notes by hand off to the side rather than highlighting (highlighting came after, when I was preparing for an exam, so that I could quickly reference what I wanted to write down).