In a world where children are exposed to keyboards at a young age, the importance of handwriting has too quickly been forgotten, and that has negatively impacted how kids are learning language and literacy.
“Less handwriting practice can make it harder for kids to learn to read,” Dr. Sheldon H. Horowitz, the Senior Advisor at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, wrote in 2018 for Understood for All.
Horowitz recognizes handwriting as a multisensory activity that engages the brain in a much different way than typing on a keyboard.
“Research shows there’s something special about language development and the act of handwriting,” Horowitz said. “As you form each letter, your hand shares information with language processing areas in your brain. As your eyes track what you’re writing, you engage these areas. The same goes if you say letter sounds and words when you write.”
Although Horowitz acknowledges the role technology can play in helping students communicate more easily, especially for students with dyslexia or learning disabilities, he reminds parents that it’s incredibly important to give our kids colors, pens, and paper and not just blank documents and apps.
“Let’s give our kids every opportunity to thrive as readers and writers,” he said. “They can use screens and devices and all sorts of technology, but let’s also keep pens and pencils handy. Doing the slow, often difficult work of practicing handwriting can help kids become better readers and writers.”