Handwriting, for the many, is almost an anachronism. Pencil sharpeners in job-related environments (hey, even in schools and academia) seem to have been long left behind. However, experts claim that learning to write (not to type, but actually writing, as in setting pen or pencil to paper) can be critical to the developing brain.
Setting aside any nostalgia that some of us might still hold around this issue of handwriting, the fact is that, according in a report in the Spanish newspaper “El País,” “there is a growing body of research on how much normal brain development occurs while learning how to form letters on a page, whether in printing and or in cursive handwriting.”
The article in El País reports on a study published this year by the Journal of Learning Disabilities, in which a group of researchers analyzed the ways in which both oral and written language are related to attention span and “executive function” skills (the kind of skills that involve both planning and carrying out a plan) in students from fourth to ninth grade, with and without learning disabilities. Virginia Berninger, professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington and lead author of the study, explains that evidence gathered from other similar studies indicate that “handwriting makes the mind intervene more actively, and can help children pay a special kind of attention to written language,” which aids in the proper development of several language-related brain functions.