The Research on Cursive Handwriting | The OT Toolbox

The Research on Cursive Handwriting

Over the past 30 days, we've shared cursive handwriting tips, strategies, activity ideas, free downloads including cursive letter flashcards, tricks, and everything you need to know on how to teach cursive handwriting. Today, as a final post in this cursive handwriting series, we wanted to share the science behind cursive. Below, you'll find the research on cursive handwriting. These are the studies that explore cursive, the evidence, and the sources you need for teaching and learning to write in cursive.

This post is part of our 31 day series on teaching cursive. You'll want to check out the How to Teach Cursive Writing page where you can find all of the posts in this series. 

For more ways to address the underlying skills needed for handwriting, check out the handwriting drop-down tab at the top of this site.



Use this research on cursive handwriting to get a better understanding of what is going on in the brain as we learn cursive, cursive handwriting development, and how cursive can help with learning.

Cursive Handwriting Research


This link explores the brain and how it relates to cursive handwriting. Some important areas that are referenced include findings of changes occurring in the brains that allow a child to overcome motor challenges when children are exposed to cursive handwriting. Additionally, the article describes a study in which has shown that physical instruction such as cursive handwriting lessons actually changed the participant's brain structure.

There is some research indicating cursive handwriting can be a valuable tool for motor control challenges such as those who struggle with dyslexia or dysgraphia. 


It's been found that there are distinct neural pathways that develop when we physically write letters. 


Neuroimaging studies have revealed an cognitive processes involving primarily left-hemisphere brain areas that are involved in writing tasks, finger writing, and imagined writing.


Practice matters! Quality of handwriting has been shown to enhance writing skills, reading, and learning or memory of language.


Cursive handwriting, like printed handwriting becomes more individualistic and develops a personal style, especially during grades 3 and 4, and as children develop


There are studies that have shown improved handwriting abilities through use of multi-sensory activities (Case-Smith et al., 2012; Keller, 2001; Lust & Donica, 2011).

You'll find more research on handwriting in The Handwriting Book:

Need help with the underlying skills needed for handwriting? Start here on our Handwriting resources page.


The Handwriting Book  is a huge resource when it comes to addressing handwriting concerns. It's a book written by 10 occupational therapists and physical therapists and refers to every underlying skill related to written work. This is a tool for therapists, teachers, and parents.


Use this research on cursive handwriting to get a better understanding of what is going on in the brain as we learn cursive, cursive handwriting development, and how cursive can help with learning.

References:


Case-Smith, J., Holland, T., Lane, A., & White, S. (2012). Effect of a co-teaching handwriting program for first graders: One-group pretest-posttest design. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(4), 396-405.


Keller, M. (2001). Handwriting club: Using sensory integration strategies to improve handwriting. Intervention in School and Clinic, 37(1), 9.

Lust, C. A., & Donica, D. K. (2011). Effectiveness of a handwriting readiness program in Head Start: A two-group controlled trial. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(5), 560-8.

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