Pre-cursive and cursive: like marmite do you love it or loathe it?

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to stay within the shadow of this impressive, yet controversial and thought-provoking structure.

Donald Trump described the new US Embassy building in Nine Elms as a ‘horrible location’ and a ‘bad deal’ yet had he really considered the location for those who use it every day and whether it was functional for its staff and visitors?

Indeed the building does what it says on the tin; therefore what’s not to love about this ideal location set outside the congestion charging zone and close to the river Thames with easy access to parking and public transport? Like marmite; you either love it or loathe it.

Equally thought-provoking and just as controversial is the teaching of a pre-cursive and cursive script with an entry or lead-in stroke from the baseline.

Imposing this style of handwriting from an early age without scientific evidence, or the approval of the Department of Education’s Damian Hinds is total disregard for governmental policy on the correct teaching of handwriting.

Before commenting on the US Embassy, Trump didn’t consider the potential (positive) effects this new building may be having for those who use it daily, and likewise no one has stopped to think about the long-term effects that writing in this cursive script has had on those who have to use it daily.

Some will say that writing with the starting point of each letter at the same starting place is easier for all children, especially children with dyslexia. However, research indicates that cursive does not help children who have this language processing disorder.

Actually, truth be known, it is harder for a child with dyslexia to write in a cursive script because they are thinking about the next letter to link it to. Teaching a visual process to teach handwriting is simply the wrong thing to do. In contrast, teaching a pen lift in printing prepares the writer for the next letter.

Once you understand the complicated cognitive process required for handwriting, you too will appreciate how challenging it is for a dyslexic child to write in cursive. Imagine rubbing your tummy with one hand and patting your head with the other: how easy is it?

Likewise, we must not forget the estimated 1,043,495 left-handers who will also struggle to write in this overly cursive script.

Let us test the functionality of this pre-cursive and cursive script with a few questions:

  • If I asked you to print your name to fill in a form, would you print it in a pre-cursive style or in a printed style?


  • Are you still seeing variations in letter height and size, letter and word spacing problems and children struggling to place letters on the line?


  • Are the children with poor motor coordination and poor fine motor skills still struggling with legible handwriting?


Love it or loathe it, the evidence against imposing a cursive script with the entry or lead-in stroke is starring us directly in the face. Sadly, many ignore the truth that it inhibits reading skills and destroys both the love of writing and speedy, fluent legible handwriting.

There are many more benefits to teaching print first; they’ve just got buried amongst all the cursive myths.

Just a side note: I also loathe marmite just as much as I loathe the imposing of a pre-cursive or cursive script in our Reception and Primary Schools!

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