Back in my elementary school years, I remember practicing my handwriting and hoping for a good grade. But Mrs. Canon always gave me a C in handwriting which all these years (I thought) kept me off the honor roll.
Looking back at my report cards, I see it wasn't the only subject keeping me from the honor roll.
My youngest daughter is motivated to improve her handwriting as she has a friend who has beautiful, almost perfect, handwriting. In her quest to write, she bought a quill pen and borrowed some of my Chinese ink.
With practice, her handwriting has improved. We used Handwriting Without Tears as a teaching tool.
Handwriting vs. Keyboarding
Neither of my boys has good handwriting, and to be honest, they don't care. “Keyboarding skills are where it's at now, mom,” is what they tell me. Their keyboarding skills make up for their lack in the handwriting department. Straight A's.
But research has shown time and again that there is a link between academic performance and handwriting. Maybe it's the fact that writing something down on paper improves our brains' ability to remember it?
Students form fine motor skills when they write, and it engages their attention which helps develop better-focusing abilities.
Studies show, handwriting skills improve reading skills. “The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children is important for the early recruitment in letter processing of brain regions known to underlie successful reading.”
“After a long period of neglect in education, attention to teaching handwriting in the primary grades may finally be returning. This attention can benefit many youngsters, including those with learning disabilities.”
“Writing encourages children to be active deciders,” says Jan Z Olsen. “They consciously have to ask themselves, ‘What is important enough for me to write down?’ ‘What do I want to remember later?’”
One thing I know is that a handwritten note or card from my husband or one of my children will get filed away in a keepsake box. The emails and texts they send me will not.
Thinking about this made me start to feel sad. The realization that the most romantic, love-filled words my husband shared with me has been this year, via text. Handwritten notes are unique and can be tucked away to read over and over.
I kept the letters my family sent to me while stationed in Germany. My mom gave me the letters that I wrote to her. Recently, my history-loving son was in awe of the letters postmarked from my life in Germany.
These handwritten letters were part of my connection to history during that time of the reunification. East and West Germany were reunited officially on October 3, 1990, almost one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
My letters also fascinated him as I detailed our drills during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. And later, news that the Air Force Base would be closed permanently. The letters describe how the German people felt at this time. History. My history.
Without handwritten letters, how much detail would I remember to share with my children? Yes, much of the history will be chronicled online, but not how we felt about it personally. The details of my German friends, our relationships, would have been lost without pen and paper.
There is so much more connection to my place in time when I look back at these handwritten letters.