Each person is unique in that they have distinguishing features about them. Each person has their own, one-of-a-kind, set of DNA (except for identical twins) and fingerprints, along with their own original composition of body features and coloring. Another unique characteristic that humans do not share is their handwriting. In fact, understanding and analyzing someone’s handwriting can say a lot about a person’s character, disposition, and aptitude via the science of graphology. But, today we live in a digital world and many people are switching the pen and paper for keyboard and screen. But, I don’t believe that we should give up on this seemingly archaic mode of writing for many reasons. I believe, like BIC, that we should Fight For Your Write, and the mission to save handwriting.
9 Reasons Why Handwriting is Better Than Typing
1. Builds Important Abilities
First it is important to know that handwriting engages children (and adults) in 14 different (and needed) abilities:
- Visual Focusing
- Mental Attention
- Organized Physical Movements
- Receptive Language
- Inner Expressive Language
- Memory Recall
- Concentration with Awareness
- Spatial Perception
- Eye-Hand Coordination
- Motor Planning
- Tactile Input
- Crossing Midline
Besides these abilities, it is important that we value and emphasize handwriting over typing for the following reasons:
2. Journal and Record Keeping
I have personally kept a journal since I was 11 years old. I have dozens of notebooks, journals, and diaries filled with my thoughts and details of my life. While I have grown up with computers practically my entire life as a Millennial, I have never been drawn to the idea of keeping my journal digitally. And the reason is simple – I don’t want it accidentally erased!
My mother would occasionally sit down at our computer, as I was growing up, in order to record and write a journal in a Word document. However, I don’t believe she ever took the time to save it externally or print off copies of it, and I know my parents’ computers have crashed on them at least once and they have switched computers a few times. Chances are I will never ever see the journal she kept on and off during my time growing up in her home. I will never know what she recorded there, and that is poorly serving me and the rest of my family. Even if she did print it off, it will be hard to identify and locate her journal as it will likely be a stapled stack of papers, and not a nice hardcover book which offers more protection for its valuable pages within, and something that is more readily recognized as important.
While it may be faster and easier to keep a journal and records of things online via your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Word Document, chances are, you are not keeping hard copies of it, and the information is too spread out, and not in one concise source. You are making family history for your children difficult, despite how easy it is to record every detail today.
Also, journaling has its own set of wonderful health benefits, including boosting your self-confidence, healing relationships, helping you problem solve, reducing stress, and more (source).
3. Connection to the Past
Cursive writing is our connection to the past and many schools, educators, and parents believe it is no longer needful to teach to the rising generations. But, without knowledge of cursive handwriting, it will be much more difficult for our children to read historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, journals, family history records, and government records. Cursive handwriting is how people wrote for centuries, and to hinder a child from reading from original sources, you’re breaking ties to the past, and closing the door to research.
Computers are limiting. A blank piece of paper or canvas present endless possibilities. While you can change the fonts, adjust margins, and do a lot of cool things on a computer today, there are still some real limits. But, a paper and a pencil don’t present those same hindrances. You can go right up to the border, invent new fonts, graphics, and freely use different sizes, fonts, and graphics all together. It also has three dimensions and can be folded, cut out, stapled, glued, crinkled, and torn. Word-processing is a standardized tool, not a creative outlet.
5. Great Works of Art
If our society wants great works of art, great enough to rival the likes of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Rembrandt, then we must be in favor of handwriting.
Using a pencil is the beginning of the understanding of how to draw, and drawing is the foundation of every artist. Also, there is a difference between using a pencil and using a pen (let alone typing!). Great drawing takes a certain sensitivity and understanding of the lead in the pencil and the thickness and type of paper its being used on. If a child never has the chance to use different types, brands, and styles of graphite, charcoal and pastels, nor different types of paper, he will never become a great artist.
You need to have extreme control of your hand in order to make those intricate details found in truly exceptional works of art. I know this firsthand as I was a fine arts major in college, and I know what it takes to create realistic portraits and still-lifes in any medium. Even if realistic art isn’t what you gravitate toward, all art takes that skill of knowing how to use your fingers and hands, knowing the materials, and being able to be sensitive to even the littlest variances in your artwork.
6. Learning and Memorization
It’s darn near impossible to write down every word spoken by someone on a piece of paper: but it’s pretty doable when using a keyboard, and likely much more legible than your speedy scribbles the other way.
Many college students bring their laptops to class in order to transcribe the professor’s lecture. They want to have all of the information available to them when it comes time to study. However, there have been studies that prove that this is hardly the best way to learn and memorize the material presented to you in class. Too often what these typing students are doing is simply “mindless transcription” and hinders their conceptual learning. Writing longhand with pen and paper forces a student to go beyond mere recording and instead process and organize the information in their own ways, in their own words (source).
I know for me, once I write something down, I have a much better time remembering it, whether it’s a simple to-do list, or a fact from a class lecture. Typing or keeping notes on my phone or computer don’t work the same for me. The physical act of thinking then writing make things connect in my brain, just as saying something out-loud often proves beneficial to my recall as well.
Even for preschoolers and early grade school students, learning the letters of the alphabet by writing them over typing them led to better letter recognition (source, source). This is because drawing letters by hand creates a “body memory.”
Experts recommend at least 15 minutes of handwriting instruction each day for students. Research has shown that improved handwriting skills have benefits for cognitive development, motor skills, and can lead to improved writing skills and comprehension. (Source: Hanover Research (2012). The Importance of Teaching Handwriting in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Hanover Research)
7. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Writing on paper teaches you problem solving. You have to learn to adapt to the paper and the pencil or pen you’re using. What are you going to do when you have a small piece of paper and a lot to say? Adjust the space between your letters or make the text smaller. What are you going to do if you have a pen that leaves extra smudgy ink marks? Write with a different pen angle or spread the letters further apart and bigger so the words will still be legible. What about when you hit the faint red line in your notebook? Are you going to split the word with a hyphen, write the word smaller, forget the line and write the word normally, or move the word down to the line below? Also, you have to make more informed decision about whether or not to capitalize something and how you’ll spell a word.
There is no automatic spell check, or squiggly red line to tell you it is or is not right. With typing you don’t face these same dilemmas. While you might think that is a good thing, these simple problem solving skills translate well into other projects and assignments for school.
Writing boosts self-confidence. Writing boosts our individuality, as the more frequently students write, at home and at school, the more confident they feel in their writing abilities. This confidence then translate over into success in all academic subjects and in nonacademic environments as well. (Source: Pam Allyn, Your Child’s Writing Life and “Prepare My Child for School: Early Childhood Education,” U.S. Department of Education.)
9. Better Readers and Writers
With my children, I have always played up the importance of handwriting. As we officially homeschool for kindergarten this year, handwriting is going to be an integral part of our learning process, because research has proven that there is a positive correlation between better handwriting skills and increased academic performance in reading and writing. When students spend less time concentrating on the basics of letter formation, “students can better focus on the planning and thought organization that is required for effective composition.” (source) I am hoping that as I work on teaching my children how to write, they will learn how to read, and vice versa.
Ways to Encourage Handwriting
While we have often practiced writing with dry erase markers and boards, I also equip my children with pencils, colored pencils, crayons, pens, and markers regularly as well as their own composition notebooks where they are free to practice writing letters and numbers, as well as create their own original works of art. It is best to use BIC pencils for handwriting activities for children and students in kindergarten to sixth grade, an to use pens for handwriting activities for children/students in seventh grade to twelfth grade, however. My children can be found with their notebooks and marking utensils every single day at our kitchen table (and other places throughout the house).
To encourage my children to write I have:
- had my children copy words and sign their names onto Thank You cards.
- taught them a few basic words, like sight words, that they can easily write – up, mom, dad, go.
- let my children see me write.
- talked to them about journals and record keeping (including things like Scriptures which are ancient records).
- written down the stories they narrate.
- illustrated the stories they tell.
- allowed free access to pencils and paper.
For more great ideas head over to Grown Ups Magazine’s post full of handwriting activities for kids. It has even more great ideas.
BIC $1,200 Sweepstakes
If you too believe in the power of the pen, go to BICFightForYourWrite.com and sign the pledge to save handwriting. By signing you are entering for a chance to win a $1,200 BIC prize pack! There’s no purchase necessary, but you must be in the US and 18 years or older. The sweepstakes ends soon on Monday, September 14, 2015 so be sure to do it now. While you are there you can learn how to become a Handwriting Hero.
Do you think handwriting is better than typing even in our technology-heavy society?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bic. The opinions and text are all mine.