Some schools are playing with the idea of substituting keyboarding for cursive. Rhonda Rush’s third-grade class was working on the letter “R”.
The students copied a series of words that added “r” to the letters they’d already learned: race, are, after, their, rake, real, ready, there.
“Guys, be careful with your smiles,” Rush said. “Don’t make them come down too far, or your ‘r’s will look like ‘m’s.”
After finishing two pages in the workbook, students shook the cramps from their hands, then switched back to writing in print for the rest of the day’s work.
Because of technology and changing mandates, many schools have reduced or even eliminated the teaching of cursive handwriting.
But Chelsea Elementary’s school district, Regional School Unit 12, made a new investment this year, purchasing a curriculum called Handwriting Without Tears that includes daily cursive lessons for third-graders.
Chloe Smiley, one of Rush’s students, said she wants to learn cursive so she can show adults what she can do when they quiz her about it.
“Whenever they’re like, ‘Can you spell my name in cursive?’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, I haven’t learned cursive yet,’ ” she said.
Chelsea resident Jessica Canwell said she’s glad her daughter, Jolie, is learning cursive in Rush’s class.
“Everybody has their own writing style, and not having cursive is losing something to the same-old, same-old,” Canwell said. “The personality of writing is being lost to computers.”
Canwell said she uses cursive when she writes manually, but most of the time she’s typing, both in her work as a bookkeeper and in her personal life.
Parents such as Canwell who want their children to learn cursive have their wish for now, for the most part.
A survey of 612 elementary school teachers by teaching supplies retailer Really Good Stuff last spring found that 65 percent of second-grade teachers and 79 percent of third-grade teachers still offer cursive writing instruction.
Many school officials, however, are reconsidering whether cursive is necessary, when writing on computers is so common in schools and workplaces.
Cursive is not required in the curriculum standards that 45 states have adopted for English and language arts.
“I now prefer technology, but I still take notes, I still make lists, I still write things out, and cursive is the way I go.
But I will admit, I’m of a different generation,” said Leanne Condon, assistant superintendent and curriculum director for Mount Blue Regional School District, RSU 9.
“Trying to understand what this generation needs is our task at this point.”