The benefits of writing by hand extend beyond childhood. For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information. Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit.

What's Lost As
Handwriting Fades?

by Maria Konnikova
The New York Times
Online Edition
June 3rd, 2014

WHY WE STILL NEED TO WRITE BY HAND

Written by THRIVE Program Teacher, Tyson Schoeber • Last Updated: 01-12-2015

Has the presence of high-tech devices in our classrooms eliminated the need to write by hand? Not at all!!!! The fact is that there are many important parts of school, learning and life that are still best done by hand!

I'm certainly not arguing to get rid of computers in classrooms! Yet I am saying that the TIME and EFFORT it takes to build solid writing skills is worth it!


A close-up photograph of a hand holding a pencil that's filling in the answers on a test.
TESTING

Mosts tests require kids to fill-in-the-blanks, write short answers and/or respond in writing.


MAKING NOTES

Writing by hand is often more convenient than pulling out a computer. Think about jotting notes about your observations on a field trip.


A scan showing a few handwritten notes about helium, written by a student.

A scan showing a few handwritten notes about helium, written by a student.
SKILLS GROW TOGETHER

Research clearly shows that handwriting instruction aides the development of reading and spelling skills.

RELYING ON TECH IS PROBLEMATIC

What do you do when when the batteries run low? Or when you left your tablet at home? Or your smart phone suddenly dies?

iPodTouch Low Battery Warning

A scan showing an example of a student's handwritten mind-map.
MIND MAPPING BY HAND IS EASIER

Mind mapping software may be good at making things look pretty. Yet even the best of them are still slow and clunky to use.

MARGIN NOTES

Writing notes in the margins can be a valuable study strategy.

A scan showing some handwritten notes in the margin of a passage of text.


An illustration of three blue dollars signs.
THE HIGH COST OF TECHNOLOGY

Today's gadgets can do many things but they are expensive. What about kids whose families or schools can't afford them?

It's also worth asking if expensive gadgets are really the best use of the very limited funds schools have available these days.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER
THAN THE …

While this famous quote ends with the word sword, the ability to write by hand is also more powerful than a keyboard in some important ways, too.

This study showed that note-taking with laptops is MUCH less effective than note-taking by hand. Other studies have shown that kids using tablets in class tend to get distracted by checking social media, web browsing, games and other apps.


Clip art showing a kid, sitting at a desk, editing his writing.
EDITING IS OFTEN EASIER, TOO

Even if we do a lot of the early work on a computer, editing a printed copy by hand is a valuable skill.

DON'T FORGET SIGNATURES

Our signature is an important expression of who we are as people. It reflects our personality and is part of our identity.

Handwriting instruction enables kids to create a consistent signature they can be proud of.


A picture of one blue smartie in the middle of a bunch of orange ones.
STICKING OUT
ISN'T ALWAYS FUN

Partner and group work often requires some writing. It can be embarrassing and awkward if you struggle in this area.

HANDWRITING AFFECTS MARKS

A famous research study has shown that messy handwriting on tests and assignments tends to earn lower marks than the exact same text written neatly.