TRUE STORY! The first two Snail Mail Blessings Challenge cards I sent to my first two young recipients – ages 10 and 13 – had to be read to them by their mother. Why? I wrote them in cursive and they couldn’t decipher the script!

I should have anticipated this. After all, when I sign books at events, I always print the message for the child. And even my own children, ages 16 and 21, have a hard time deciphering the sweet notes their Great Aunt Gayle sends them. In fact the only words my own children know how to do in cursive are their signatures – and they had to really work to master those.

When I taught fourth grade, 20+ years ago, my favorite part of the day (and the kids’ too) was right after recess. I’d have the day’s cursive practice up on the chalk board waiting for them and they’d get out their cursive books and, after reviewing the letter or letter combo of the day, they’d practice while I read aloud to them from wonderful books like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Summer of the Monkeys, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This daily read-aloud/cursive time took up only about 20 minutes per day and we treasured it. And at the end the kids had not only mastered cursive, they also had been enriched by the magic of read-aloud time.

I, too, learned cursive in school as an eight year old. My photo for they day – an entry from my third grade journal- is proof. That cursive has really helped me over the years – particularly when I was taking notes and, now, as I write. Oh, yes, it’s possible, to take notes on a lap top or to type a story directly into a computer. Certainly it’s faster and infinitely more legible. However, there is something about writing long-hand that makes the concepts I am writing about stick better in my mind. And what’s the fastest way to write long-hand? Using cursive because the letters connect and so you don’t have to lift the pen off the page for each letter.

I have two questions for you (and me) as we write our snail mail blessings this week. First, will you use print or cursive? Second, if you are a parent to a child, will you consider teaching them cursive since it is no longer part of the public school curriculum? There are workbooks you can still order to help you. And, it doesn’t have to mean just one more thing you need to add to an already busy day. You can weave it into your read-aloud time! (Because you are doing that, right? You should. It’s a wonderful family practice that your children will treasure for years.)

I regret not infusing cursive into the rhythm of my own children’s days. But I think my daughter might just choose to learn it on her own. She loves the elegant look of cursive. She also is a devoted long-hand notetaker. I hope she does.

Happy Snail Mail Blessing this week! Let me know how it goes and if you use print or cursive.

12 thoughts on “SNAIL MAIL BLESSINGS CHALLENGE: The Cursive Conundrum”

  1. I remember my shock when California public schools decided to retire cursive from the curriculum. My kids were in private school then, where “penmanship” was still part of classroom time, but much diminished from days of yore when (I’m told) it took half the school day.
    I wondered why we can’t strike a balance. I realized we were only a generation away from folks not being able to read cursive, and “scholars” would have to decipher old letters for academic publications.
    I recommend hand-written letter to those younger than twenty be written in print.

  2. I taught kindergarten in both public and private Christian schools. We taught D’Nealian in the Christian school. My 4 children went there and now, as adults, they have beautiful handwriting. It is a wonderful system where children are taught to write on a slant. When it’s time for cursive, they just connect the letters.
    In Nicaragua, where my grandchildren live, the schools teach cursive right away. My 5 year old grandson had to write his name in cursive 50 times for homework! He’s so stressed – time to homeschool. (My daughter and her husband are medical missionaries which is why they are in Nicaragua.) check out this link if you’re interested: https://thisreadingmama.com/dnealian-handwriting-charts-free/

  3. It sounds like you and your class had a wonderful time each day. I always read aloud after lunch, too, and taught cursive writing, but never thought to combine them. Very creative! It is sad that cursive is becoming a lost art.

  4. I learned cursive too and it was invaluable when taking college notes. I never could have printed fast enough to write down things the profs said, even in my own words. Sadly, I never developed a nice cursive handwriting. Mine was less than pretty, but I’ve seen some that are really lovely. It’s such a shame that schools today have cut that from the curriculum.

  5. We are lucky here as my eight year old/third grader is being taught cursive in a public school in Tennessee. Maybe it isn’t as far gone in the middle of the country as it is on the coasts?

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