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The Cursive Debate!

Mrs. G

Senior Member
I teach fifth grade and have a definite opinion about whether or not students should be required to use cursive handwriting. I thought it might be interesting to read the opinion of others. ~ Be nice now, I know this can be a touchy subject.;)



I teach 4th grade, and my students still haven't fully mastered cursive yet. It's so difficult to get them to write in cursive, when I hardly use it myself!

I have come to the conclusion that if it's a daily assignment (worksheet, homework) or something simple, I don't really care, as long as it's neat. However, if they are writing a formal composition piece, I make them write in cursive. We also practice cursive three times a week.


Senior Member
cursive please

Our school requires cursive until at least 7th grade (I teach 5th). I always use cursive since my cursive is faster and neater than printing. We have started using the abeka curriculum this year and it teaches cursive in 1st grade, so needless to say, they will be practicing it A LOT! :p



I teach fifth and I feel that it should be optional. Some students write neater when they are printing than they do with cursive. I would much rather be able to read the writing than worry about whether it is in cursive. I do, however, feel that if students are given a choice, there should be some assignments that they should be required to write in cursive so they do not forget it. On occasion, I will have the students do an assignment in cursive just to make sure that they remember it.


Senior Member
cursive writing

I teach second grade and at my school I have teach them cursive in January. I think this is a joke since some of them write like they are in kindergarten. My school shoves differentiation at you right and left so I think cursive should be introduced and have them practice it at a center. Then those who can do it legible should be able to apply it in the everyday writing and those who can't should be able to continue with manuscript writing. My daughter is in 9th grade and have the time she prefers to use manuscript. With the way we have differentiation shoved at us at my school this would be one way to differentiate, but no everyone in second grade should be writing in cursive by a particular time at my school.


Senior Member
Doesn't matter to me...

I think it is important to require kids to complete some assignments in cursive, but not all. For example, I require my kids to do their daily journals in cursive. However, I prefer them to print on a spelling test because I have found that often times kids would misspell a word because they formed the cursive letter wrong. Also, I had a hard time reading some of my 5th graders' cursive writing! I think we need a happy medium...part of the time print and part of the time cursive! :p


Senior Member

I teach fourth grade and find many of the same problems that have been mentioned. Namely, problems with reading their spelling tests. I require my students to write in cursive during our reading workshop and writing blocks. The rest of the time, they are free to use either cursive or print. I have mixed feelings about wether or not they really need to use cursive - many of the high school students that I know write in print (or they just type their assignments on the computer).


Junior Member
Abeka teaches it from DAY ONE

I teach K4 and we teach cursive from day one :D Frankly I love it!!
I know some of you think I am nuts and it is not appropriate, but really it is very good.

Think of it this way. If you teach printing for K, 1, and then switch to cursive in 2, or 3, isn't that more confusing??? just when they start really having to learn other hard stuff like two and three digit math?

If you look at a child's scribbles, the are not 'ball and stick' they are loops and curves. Cursive is much more natural.

"but what about learning to read print or learning to write print" if they learn to read print they always are able to copy it, and usually much better because of the cursive practice.

Just like reading, you can't stop a child from writing if they are ready, they just copy whatever they see.

Yes, I have a few students whose hand/finger dexterity is a bit behind, but they do ok.

I have been teaching this way for 7 years and every year they amaze me. 90% of the kids in my class can write their first name legibly by the end of the year, some much sooner :)

Hey, before 1940 that is the only way writing was taught :rolleyes:
check this out for more information.

I am not talking about hours of forced writing that frustrates the students I am talking about 10-15min about 3 times a week (daily if you want to do it for shorter periods of time) that starts out very slowly and only asks for the kids to trace for the first quarter.

You would be surprised how 'grown up' they feel when they do this.


Senior Member
for me...

i teach 4,5,6 and I don't really care if they use cursive or not...I prefer being able to read what they write. some student's write better when they use cursive! Sometimes though, I tell them their work has to be cursive...



Senior Member

I'm in middle school and I've had a lot of kids who honestly don't know how to write cursive--my son included. It seems to have been dropped by the wayside in this state due to all the testing requirements. Obviously I don't require it and as long as I can read what they write I'm okay.


Full Member
Cursive in Third Grade (long, sorry)

I teach third grade and we are using "handwriting without tears". The children are very successful with the program and love it. I have a parent who is an OT and she loves the program. I do not allow my students to write in cursive outside of our cursive lessons at this point because we have not introduced all letters. The program begins with the lowercase letters and teaches the capitals last. The idea being we use lowercase letters most frequently. The program also is very basic in the letter formation. The belief here being to teach the students a simple style which they can later add their own fancy flair to. The program consists of a teacher's guide and a workbook and is very cheap. Once I have introduced all letters I will allow students to write in cursive (after Christmas). I think I will still ask for printing on tests so that their effort can be spent on answering the question not perfecting their handwriting. I think journals is a great place to begin requiring cursive. This would also help make journal writing more fun for those who dread it. As far as next year (4th grade) I know the teacher will ask for cursive and most likely in 5th. After that I think the children get to choose what they are most comfortable with.

In the teacher's guide I have, it states that most children below 3rd grade do not have the fine motor development to be successful with cursive. They suggest saving cursive instruction for third and fourth grade. However I can see the theory behind teaching it early since children's scribbles do resemble loops. Does this interfere with their ability to recognize letters in print? Are they able to make the print/cursive conversion? My main concern with cursive is my students' spelling workbooks use cursive and they can not read the words in cursvie. Much like printing, cursive writing comes in various styles with different flairs. I am beginning to write on board some in cursive, outside of cursive instruction, but I can see this will be a challenge. Any suggestions? In the program we are using they have "silly spelling tests". This activity requires the students to practice writing words that have letters that have been introduced. There are three levels. One is they suggest a word and I write it in cursive on the board and they copy it. All can do that. Level 2 is they give a word, I print it on the board and they write it in cursive in their book. Most can do this, but the neatness definitely falls off. The third level is when they give a word or I do, I spell it out loud and they must write it in cursive. They love the concept because they help give the words and the words can only include letters we have introduced and are practicing, but making the conversion from print to cursive is tough. Even with a cursive ABC line, they struggle since cursive is suppose to be one continous movement and you only lift your pencil at the completion of a word.


I teach 4th grade. Up until they reach 4th grade, they are taught cursive but it is not required by our district. I do not require my students to do anything in cursive. When they get to junior high they will be typing everything anyway. I would much rather be able to read their assignments. It's less stressful for everyone.


Senior Member

i have always thought it was important for my sixth graders to learn cursive. here are my reasons:
*they need to be able to read others' cursive writing.
*they need to take notes in junior high, high school, college...and cursive is faster for most people since you don't have to lift your writing utensil after each letter.
*students tend to be taught how to write in cursive in third grade and then it is dropped. how can kids learn something so complex after just one year? they need practice (as with everything).
*some students write better in cursive than in print.

i spend a few days reviewing each letter, occasionally giving cursive homework and then give occasional assignments (usually with a separate focus--spelling, paragraph skills....) and add the cursive requirement.

so, mrs. g, what IS your opinion?


Senior Member

When I taught 3rd grade, I taught cursive each day and many of the parents said that their children had the best cursive they had ever seen. Now I am in a new school and teach 5th. It is like pulling teeth to get the kids to write in cursive. So I give them a small break.

Math - all printed to include word problems or labels

Spelling - all printed

Any vocabulary - print or cursive

Any note taking - print or cursive

All other assignments should be in cursive. It is so hard. It seems like every assignment, do we have to write in cursive? I say yes, huge groan for the class. Many forget??? and start in print then say what should I do now, I tell them to continue in cursive. I wish I had the time to teach cursive in 5th grade. Their print and cursive for many of the kids look like chicken scratch!



Our school is forced to concentrate on reading and math because of low test scores, so we do very little else. Cursive writing among other things, takes a back seat. I teach 5th and rarely require students to use cursive. Frankly, many of them come to me not knowing how to read or write cursive and I do not have time to teach it when I am required to teach so much math and reading. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a necessary skill, and if things were different, I would require it. We're in a very poor area and are lucky if the kids show up and turn in their work at all.


Senior Member
print cursive debate

Our new state standards require students to be able to write legibly in
4th grade, so it's not really a choice not to do it. Here's what I've done for awhile now. I allow students the print/cursive choice for 1st semester. I require all spelling assignments and final drafts to be completed in cursive so I can see who's having difficulty with formation of particular letters and provide intervention. Then in second semester, it's all cursive all the time. (I don't really have consequences if they forget and print on occasion, just so long as they're getting the cursive practice.)
Personally, I print most of the time. It is neater than my regular cursive (I do have "teacher cursive" that I use with the kids!) I learned to hate cursive handwriting in elementary school when we were graded on it and I'd have that one C to ruin my report card. Thank goodness we don't grade it!
I really find printing to be much more of a life skill. Most things are done via computer, where the output is manuscript. When you are asked to fill out forms, it never says "please use cursive" it says "please print". The only thing you really need to be able to write in cursive is a signature. (Many people's aren't legible anyway.) Being able to read cursive is important, since they might encounter it in letters, notes, etc.


Full Member
I think it should be up to the kids. My brother has dysgraphia and its actually eaiser for him to write in cursive because he doesn't have to pick up his pencil, however, I have several stuents now whos cursive is atrocious! Some in OT but others not. I don't think it is fair to say EVERYONE has to use one or the other, adults don't. I have in the past given cursive writing sheets, etc. for practice and asked that spelling assignments be in cursive but everything else was up to the students, as long as I could read it. I have too many other important things to focus on that to place too much imphasis on handwriting.

BTW, I teach ESE so I"m definately more worried about bringing my students up to level.


Full Member
Handwriting Without Tears

This program is very inexpensive, simple, and only requires 10 - 15 minutes daily. The kids love it!


Junior Member
maybe I'm crazy

I don't think cursive should be required. I taught fifth grade for several years and we were told that we had to have our students use cursive for everything. Not pleasant. Since then, I have taught both third and second grade and done daily handwriting lessons. I do believe that it is important to learn cursive, but it isn't a truly necessary life skill. Other than signing your name, you will never be required to write a thing in cursive your entire life. If fact, you will be encouraged in big bold-faced letters to "please print." Some children pick it up and do very well. They can write quicker and neater and should definately be allowed to use this skill. Other children don't pick it up easily and labor to draw out the letters when forced to use cursive. I believe it should be introduced early, practiced with short little assignments daily for the first couple of years and then be totally optional.

Teach 5

Senior Member

I agree with the previous poster. It should be taught, practiced, and mastered. After that it should be optional. I do think the only thing they will really need to write in cursive will be their signatures.
I used to think that all work should be done in cursive but some of the kids just haven't mastered it well enough to do that. ( I teach 5th.) Also current research says that the kids should print notes, spelling words, etc. because it helps them to remember the material. So we no longer require it, in fact we encourage printed work.:)


Junior Member
Cursive Writing

I introduce the cursive letters in second grade beginning right after Christmas break. By the time May comes around, a few of my students are capable of writing mostly in cursive. For those few students, I have them print the spelling words and them write them again in cursive beside the printed words. I also think that it has to be a school wide policy. If the school wants the kids to write in cursive it needs to start in third grade and continue on up the grades. The students can't have one teacher requiring cursive and the next teacher, not requiring it. Be consistent, that's the key. Jonesy


New Member
4th grade

I teach 4th grade. Our students begin to learn cursive in 2nd, and have mastered it (mostly) by 3rd grade. I usually require most daily work done in cursive. On spelling tests, I give them the option to write in print or cursive I feel it is more important for students to know how to spell the word rather than focusing on correct formation of letters in cursive. That's how we deal with that debate :)


Completely Against It

I have taught grades 3-8 in MA, and I have noticed that in most elementary schools it ids required by some teachers and not by others. However in middle school the students have a choice. I have never made my students wrtie inc rusvie all the time and I never plan to, In plain english the students should have a choice about their handwriting. I tell them I don't care wheter it's cursive or print just if it's neat. BTW: I once had a teacher in 5th grade who made me right in cursive and to this day I still really don't have fond memories of this class mostly becuase of cursive!!!


New Member
Cursive vs print

I'm desperately looking for articles on the cursive vs print theory- which is better for a child (correlations with brain development etc.). Is there an advantage of one over the other? is there a difference in writing speed? fluency? or is it just the same ?
Please help!!!!