Why are we teaching our children to read in print but write in cursive?

There is always a big push for schools and parents to encourage their children to read, and for good reason. Reading exercises our brain, improves concentration, improves vocabulary and language skills and develops a child’s imagination.

Schools are continually looking for new and innovative ways to encourage their pupils to read and make reading fun, which is great to see and on my recent visits to schools across the country to support teachers and children with handwriting, I have seen a variety of activities and fun spaces designed to make reading fun.

However, despite it being great to see schools having such a positive and proactive approach to encouraging children to read, it does then beg the question as to why some of these schools are then choosing to teach their students to write in the pre cursive and continuous cursive style with a lead-in stroke from as early as Reception.

If you think about a book, a newspaper, a magazine or even posts on social media, all of these pieces of writing are all written in a printed style – the letters are not joined.

Therefore, children are taught to read a printed style of writing.

But with the rush to join causing more and more schools to push their children to learn with the continuous cursive style from the very start, this can create a huge amount of confusion for a child when it comes to reading vs. writing.

Children are no longer taught to print letters, and instead are being taught letters with a lead in/entry stroke with ticks and flicks on each letter. This method of teaching means that children are not being taught what each letter looks like without these ticks and flicks and how they are seen in a book or any other printed resource.

This can result in huge confusion for a child, as they no longer recognise the letters they read as they are not presented in the cursive style with the added flicks and kicks.

But it was only when a retired teacher contacted me about her grandson’s confusion with his reading homework that I realised just how bewildering it can be for a young child who has been taught to write in a cursive script from the start.

The 4 year old boy was asked to write down all of the words in his reading book that contained the letter ‘a’. He could not find any so had asked his grandma to help him. His grandma quickly found a word containing a letter ‘a’ and on showing him the word, he said, “No Grandma, that cannot be an ‘a’ because it does not have the ‘whoosh’ on it.”

We read in a printed script so why have schools stopped teaching children to write in a printed script?

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