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Cursive Vanishing From Schools As Common Core Takes Focus

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Technology is taking over, and many school districts are dropping cursive writing instruction from their curriculum.

But for children who have trouble even printing, occupational therapists are going old school and making a case for cursive.

Sixth-grader Christopher Chance's handwriting is not necessarily a labor of love. He's worked hard to be able to write this well. Just a few years ago, he freely admits, his writing was a mess.

"If you look at an earthquake sensor, how it goes "deeeee!" like that," he said.

He started seeing occupational therapist Candice Hawkins when he was 7 years old.

"From the fine motor, just holding a pencil was kind of hard for him," she said. "From a visual aspect—was keeping spaces between the words, keeping his letters smaller so they could stay on the line."

They did a number of exercises together, but Hawkins says the one that helped Chance the most was teaching him cursive.

"The way that printing is formed, it's more kind of segmented, where, cursive is a flow, and so, sometimes kids pick up on that a little bit better," she said.

Hawkins says cursive has helped a number of her clients with writing issues. Research has shown the classical loopy writing helps with motor skills, cognitive development, reading and spelling. It's even been shown to help children with dyslexia.

At Brookfield School in Sacramento, Dori Ligi begins teaching her students cursive in the second grade.

"It's almost like an art form. and the kids, they take pride in it. and the cursive really comes out so unique whereas printing can all kind of look similar," she said.

Principal Jo Gonsalves knows a lot of public schools are dropping cursive with the transition to Common Core standards, but she says that was never discussed at her private school.

"We live in a Common Core world," she said. "We talk a lot about having to look at original source documents. Well, what a pity that so many children are coming up in this generation who can't read the Declaration of Independence."

With all of the evidence-based benefits of cursive, why isn't it required in public schools anymore. Common Core state standards say students should be able to do it starting in the third grade, but the department of education says, "Ultimately, all decisions on whether to teach students cursive writing is made at the local level and by teachers in each classroom."

Chance goes to public school and his teacher gives students the option of writing in cursive or print. His mom is thankful he not only learned cursive, but learned how to do it well.

"Eventually his cursive speed exceeded his typing speed, which was amazing. it was like a miracle," said Kathy Chance.

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