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In the world of emails, digital research, texting and typing, research debates the importance of handwriting versus teaching keyboarding. I recently read a blog post that posed this question: Do we really need to teach elementary age children handwriting, or should we focus more on keyboarding so that children have the computer literacy skills they will need?
I felt it necessary to respond then and I will share my belief here; handwriting and writing skills should continue to be taught in the elementary grades. These skills are not just about teaching children to write. Teaching handwriting is a muscle memory approach to creating writing fluency so that children can express themselves in as fast a rate as they think. Writing also allows younger students to engage in a natural editing process where mistakes can be learned from, instead of using editing tools online such as spell check, which doesn't provide the same teachable moment. This changes once the core foundations of literacy are accomplished in the older elementary grades.
Part of our mission at Stevens Cooperative School requires us to prepare students for the world beyond our doors. This means that we have to teach the writing process as well as interact with digital text. Following this line of thought, teaching handwriting provides the foundation for writers to express themselves in a written modality. I agree that teaching keyboarding is a necessary skill, and I appreciate that we offer this to our students, particularly in 3rd grade. That said, I could not imagine abandoning the handwriting curriculum component.
As the main modality of communicating, organizing ourselves, and expressing opinions moves toward digital spaces, this perspective on the importance of handwriting may change; yet I would assert that we are not there yet.