The learning benefits of writing by hand

It is clear that children are being pushed toward electronics and technology. Everyone can agree there is a need to teach children about all the choices and give them a solid education. There have been some proponents who have said that hand writing just is not necessary in today’s society. It could be that children won’t use handwriting as much as they mature, but it is still an integral part of their education.

The act of handwriting and its association with letters and reading helps to form the way the brain processes information. At first this may seem like a statement that cannot be backed up, but he great thing about technology is that it gives us many tools to do research with as well.

Handwriting requires the brain to work in a different manner. It takes a conglomeration of skills to make the magic happen.

Skills used in handwriting

Vision: The student has to look at the paper in front of him and make note of the lines.

Fine motor skills: Handwriting requires a certain level of fine motor skills. Children can peck at a computer , but that is a different skill set. Fine motor skills are divided into six major categories. These are foot to eye coordination, stereognosis, hand to eye coordination, manual dexterity, ocular motor control and tactile perception.

Cognitive skills: On a cognitive level the child has to remember what the shape of the letter is and how to make it. They also need to be able to bring that information on demand and quickly. This uses different pathways in the brain.

Scientific study information

A scientific study done by the Indiana University was very telling. The students were given a functional MRI. This type of MRI is designed to recognize neural activity in the brain. After the scan the children were then divided into two groups. One group of children had to write the letters as a part of their instruction. The second group was shown the letters and practice visual and verbal recognition with no writing.

At the end of the study the students had a second functional MRI. The results were clear and consistent. The children who practice with handwriting developed more spots and pathways to recall the information.

According to Karin Harman James, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University, “It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time.”

Parents are finding that if they sit down and write things out they are using a whole different skill than typing on the computer. It is good practice to use those parts of the brain that may have been lain dormant.

Children need to have a purpose for writing. So have them make a little card. Draw a picture and have them label it. Display it, mail it, or do something that shows value. Teach them about thank you notes and let them send them to family members. Homework is great, but they need to know why it is important.