Handwriting is making a comeback in schools across the state. Currently, the majority of Texas school districts don’t teach students to write in cursive, but that will change in the 2019-2020 school year.
Second-graders will learn how to write cursive letters and third-graders will learn how to write complete words and answers in cursive writing. Cursive will also be a requirement in fourth and fifth grade.
The new learning standards, which the State Board of Education approved in 2017, reflect the growing science that backs the benefits of handwriting.
“Studies have shown [it] to improve brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory as well as stimulating the brain,” said Katrina Erickson with the curriculum provider Learning Without Tears.
She explained that cursive increases the connections between the brain’s left and right hemispheres — something that printing or typing doesn’t do.
“Writing by hand helps to tie that content to their memory for faster, more efficient and stable recall later on,” Erickson said.
In February, the Houston school board adopted Learning Without Tears as its K-5 curriculum for handwriting, and the company helped train teachers this spring on how to teach cursive in a way that doesn’t frustrate students.
In recent years, as many states adopted a standardized curriculum, known as the Common Core, they dropped penmanship from their standards. That trend is now reversing.
“The [Texas] standards that were really beefed up to require more specific language about printing skills and then added cursive as a requirement in second grade, third, fourth and fifth grade,” Erickson said.
She said that about 13 or 14 other states are bringing cursive back to their curriculum and she expects that to continue, especially since Texas, with its large student population, often influences the textbook market.