Print vs. Cursive

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  • Shanna

    Oh..the dreaded debate. Is there anyone here who does not teach cursive? My husband is an engineer and sees no reason for it beyond a signature. I personally like cursive but my boys that are of the age the learn do not and could care less. I really want to make sure my daughter learns cursive as I think it is important for a lady to know how for writing letters but what about these boys who would rather write as quickly as possible.


    You know, Shanna, we never had these debates until the pc showed up. Just one more thing to think about! In this day of the keyboard, some people have opted to just go for legibility versus beautiful script – and us cm moms shudder!

    If your husband says ‘no cursive’ then the debate ends right there. If there is still room for discussion, I guess the thing you need to decide is if your boys will be mad at you later in life if you do not teach them cursive. Will they be able to read it? Will there ever (ever?) be a time when they might, just might, need it or want it?

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that they should at least be able to have the choice of doing either type of writing well later in life. It is a small investment of time now that may pay off later. For now it will pay off in the very important way of learning obedience and doing all things well, even if they don’t see the point. My husband printed until he was 50yo when he sat next to a young lady (homeschooled!) at church and saw her beautiful handwriting. He has been using cursive ever since!

    Giving my opinion makes me feel a little squirrely because I’m not sure if your husband was just tossing out a statement or being very serious. I really don’t want to create some angst in you.



    I have thought this over and over too and here is what I came up with. I read the mountains of information on the Peterson Directed Handwriting site, . After that I gleaned even more info from various sources. I guess what I found was that fluent cursive, through fine and gross motor (air writing) helps to imprint spelling by the specific muscle memory pattern of each word. It also helps to process vocabulary.

    Basically, I found that cursive was more than just a quick way to write, but an actual literacy tool. To that end I ordered the homeschooling kit from Peterson a few days ago.

    We have been using Handwriting Without Tears for years, but after researching I think the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to switching.

    On another side note, I started my youngest boy (7) with cursive first. He has had an awful time with reversals and he can plainly see that a b and d are different in classical cursive. The author of Alpha-phonics also recommends cursive first.



    We do not use cursive wrting. My children are handwriting using Italic. I prefer this method to all others because the children are not forced to learn an entirely different alphabet when learning cursive. Italic simply adds flourishes to the letters they already know, and the strokes for Italic are fluent and natural (as opposed to forced curves in odd places!) My daughter had pretty handwriting and has no trouble with cursive whatsoever. I agree with your husband.



    Thank you for caring about pulling me from my husband. He is not against me teaching cursive and has not told me no. He just doesnt see a reason for it. Again, he is an engineer and just doesnt see the reason behind it all. I do agree that they need to read it and I will most likely continue teaching it. I was just looking to see if there were others that agreed with my husband.


    Jodie Apple

    Hi Shanna,

    My husband is also an engineer and feels the same way; He questions if they’ll ever really use it. We are in agreement to teach it, but not put too much emphasis on it.

    I have a couple of questions on this topic as well:

    1) We used italic to teach printing and just continued into the cursive part of this series. Our son spent the last 5 months with this and did a good job IN THE WORKBOOK, but really didn’t transfer the neatness and form into other areas of writing. I looked at the handwriting without tears cursive book and thought it may be a better approach…Do we take the time to learn a different form of cursive or just focus on neat printing?


    2) Our youngest is still needing practice printing; she used italic as well, and really never mastered this form. In her writing outside of the workbook she used a “non-italic” form. I was going to have her do copywork without a specific handwriting curriculum, but then I saw the Handwriting without tears book and am wondering if we should try it. Anyone with insight care to comment?????



    I used HWT for six years. It does do a great job of getting kids writing. After all these years though I am having issues. My children’s handwriting (out of a HWT lesson book) is not so good. I bought the special paper for a long time, but now that my oldest is in 5th I expect more on regular paper. Also, my middle son just kills his paper–pushing so hard with his pencil. I really needed to help him lighten up a bit for his hand’s sake!

    Because of all this I talked to the people at Peterson Directed Handwriting. They will be the first to admit that cursive is a dying art, but they have MOUNDS of studies that show how becoming fluent helps build the brain and improve communication skills.They focus on movement and strokes, which I hope will help my children be more comfortable when they write.

    I bought these writing guides that go on their desks which help them place their papers to the proper angle. We used the kitchen table for years, but it was too high for proper writing I’ve learned. So out came the free desks we got from a friend.

    All in all, I have learned that handwriting is more than getting a thought on paper and fluency is necessary to have both speed and accuracy.

    On a side note, I was NOT interested in having “handwriting class”. I have too many things to do, but I thought I’d work it in during art/drawing time. We are practicing the strokes in cornmeal and on the wall with my art projector to get the gross motor part ingrained.

    I switched handwriting curriculums 5 times as a child due to moving all the time. No one used the same thing! As a result my handwriting is HORRIBLE. D’Nealian, Italic, Ball and Stick, Zaner,…. I am retraining myself with these lessons too. 🙂


    I went through the same debate wether I should teach my boys cursive or let them just print. Well, as a result my oldest used italic handwriting and my younger son learn cursive when he was in 3rd grade. We were using language arts through literature yellow, which incorporated cursive. The teach the method we learned when we were younger. To be honest I think it was he simplest My oldes ds didn’t use the program, but we went through many writing programs and it seemed that none of them would stick. Of course he wasn’t interested, he saw the task impossible and stuck wih italic handwriting. He never finished the program and still prints. I think it was more of his attitude toward script. On the other hand my youngest son wanted to learned script; he saw it as a form of art. It came easy to him and he was more confident.

    I think when you are deciding wether you are going to go with print or scrip you need consder the child’s attitude. I think trying all the programs with my oldest just confused him more and caused lack of confidence.

    I also noticed that my younger ds has more confidence when he writes because he loves his handwritin, while my secon ds hates it because he doesn’t like his.

    my advive would be to find out what yor children’s perspective is or get them on board to want to learn script if that is what you would like them to learn so the experience is positive.



    For what it’s worth, my mom was never taught to print. In her school they only taught cursive, staring in first grade. She could still print, of course, but she taught herself and she was never happy with they way her printing looked. I had a strict first-grade teacher who insisted on perfect printing, and I remember my mom being so happy about that, lol. (My mom learned short-hand in high school and I was envious of that skill. You never hear about short-hand anymore.)

    I taught both printing and cursive to my children and the main reason I did is because that is what I was taught. (The song “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof is now playing in my head!)

    To my surprise, my son asked to learn cursive before I was planning to teach it. He prefers cursive to printing and I’ve heard from other moms whose sons also prefer cursive. I think cursive is less tedious to some kids – it’s easier to keep the pencil on the paper rather than having to pick it up for the next letter. My son doesn’t appreciate the beauty of cursive handwriting as much as he likes the efficiency and ease of it.

    My kids don’t use the computer for schoolwork, but I suppose they’ll need to learn to type soon. I am old enough to remember that typing was an optional subject in school, and it wasn’t taught until high school. Kids are “keyboarding” much younger now.

    Times changes and handwriting fashions change, but the overall goal of learning how to communicate in written word stays the same. We have the flexibility on our times to have different styles of handwriting, and I think that’s a good thing. I think tidy handwriting is a good habit, but the style of handwriting doesn’t really matter as much as it used to.


    Since this post has been brought up again, I was wondering what you all use to teach cursive. I know that some of you above have already shared but wondered if there is anyone else who would like to chime in. 🙂

    My 8 yo is starting to show interest but is infact still getting the mechanics of his handwriting down. We’ve been using HWT; hes in Printing Power. I’m debating whether or not to move on to HWT cursive book. What programs have you used ; likes and dislikes, etc???




    In response to Heather’s question immediately above:

    I admire moms who put thought into what program they will use, but I’m a slacker mom when it comes to stuff like this, and I bought whatever workbook the local drugstore had on it’s rack. The style was almost identical to my own handwriting, which appealed to me for ease of teaching, and my kids thought it was fine. Their handwriting is neat and legible, the purchase price was low, and we didn’t cry over lessons. Mission accomplished.



    My daughter (almost 8 yrs) wanted to learn how to write cursive, so I neatly wrote out each letter of the alphabet in cursive onto some lined paper and put the paper into a plastic sheet protector. She traces over my handwriting with an overhead marking pen, then we wipe it off with a wet cloth when she is done and it’s ready to go for the next time. Her printing is not as neat as I would like it to be, so we still use that for her copywork, etc. When she wants to write “fancy” in a letter or some other project of hers, she will often go and get the cursive template that I made and use it as a guide when she writes on her own paper. It’s not really a program, but so far it is working for us. Hope this helps! 🙂



    Esby, thanks for the practical advice. I think some of us moms make things too complicated. I wouldn’t say you are slacker but very simple in your approach. Hey, your mission was accomplished, like you said; I think thats great! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Tanya, what a great idea with the plastic sheet protector. I think I might just give that a go at first. Thanks a bunch!

    Blessings to you both.



    I am going to be using Queens cursive to teach my younger boys.

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