Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teaching Cursive to Dyslexic Students

How can cursive help students with dyslexia learn to read, write and spell? 

What are the best methods to help a Dyslexic Students learn to write using cursive!

After 14 years of public school teaching one idea stays constant, instructing struggling students on the best way to learn how to spell, read and write especially Dyslexic, Autistic, and LD students, is a real need for the truth and authentic FORMATIVE feedback! Be nice, but put the craft and quality back into student tasks and products! I was never corrected by my teachers that believed because of my dyslexia and dysgraphia I would be incapable of learning cursive or print. Students need to believe that the skill, quality, and craft of learning cursive is an extension of art. Learning cursive brings muscle memory and other psychomotor learning domains together with the cognitive language learning. My father was the one that stepped in and started correcting my methods and required me to seek quality. I discovered the power of learning cursive when I stopped looking at the print alphabet, trying to figure out what directions the letters were formed. I learned cursive because that is what everyone had to do, yet many of the problems I had with my poor ability to print disappeared when I learned cursive. Many, many hours of swoops and loops, practicing for hours every day over the summer I mastered cursive and improved my word letter/word-sound association, I developed that all important muscle memory that helped me remember how those impossible p,d,q, and and b are positioned and written. I tricked myself into liking the repeated practice of cursive letters and words, with an intensive artistic mindset and for an artistic minded person that made all the deference.

Why is learning Cursive so important for all students! 
  • Cursive develops fine motor skills
  • Cursive develops muscle memory that creates secondary, tertiary neurological paths for learning language
  • Cursive is art and beautiful
  • Cursive is faster than print
  • Cursive is the form of writing that many of our most important historical documents are written

Is it possible to Help all Dyslexic students learn to Spell, Read and Write?

Learning to read, write and spell for many Dyslexic, Autistic, LD, and failing at-risk students is tantamount to climbing Mount Everest. Learning to write can be augmented and facilitated with the use of computers but many educators overlook the power of learning proper penmanship, especially cursive for Dyslexic and Autistic students. Learning cursive can be a powerful tool for teaching writing very much like learning a second language that helps bring new meaning and understanding to the written and spoken word. The art of joining letters to make cursive words made more sense to me as a dyslexic learner, print was just a jumbled collection of individual letters that got in my way. Dyslexics and many Autistic students think pictorially and try to solve and write things holistically. Learning cursive feeds into the holistic, artistic, pictorial, expressive nature of the write language.

1 comment:

  1. I too am dyslexic.

    Cursive made things far worse for me: in terms of handwriting and otherwise. (I've since seen this in many of my students, definitely including those whose diagnoses include dyslexia.)

    Not till 24 did I write legibly, let alone fluently — this was only after I'd quit cursive (in which I'd been rigorously trained) for a semi-joined, print-like, fluent system called “italic.”
    In retrospect, this shouldn't surprise — research (sources on request) has long noted that the fastest, clearest handwriters are neither the print-writers nor the cursive writers. Highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are gained by those who join only some letters, not all – making only the simplest joins, omitting the rest, and using print-like forms for letters whose printed and cursive forms disagree.

    (Research also notes that cursive writing, when legible, average no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility.)

    Though cursive is not the only path (let alone the best) to fluent handwriting, we still need to _read_ that accident-prone way of writing. Dyslexic children or adults (like othes) can — and should — be taught to read cursive, AND how to write more efficiently and simply ourselves when we write by hand.

    Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 - 60 minutes — even to young schoolchildren (including dyslexics) once they read ordinary print. (There's even an iPad app to teach how: named "Read Cursive" — .)

    So why not simply teach children to READ cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, such as some handwriting style that's actually typical of effective handwriters?


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