A new study has found that handwriting beats typing on a keyboard or watching videos for learning to read. Even if writing by hand is more and more being eclipsed by computer use, it seems that we should think twice before throwing away pencils and paper. Actually, handwriting helps learn a few skills significantly faster and better than learning them through keyboards and screens.
According to senior author Brenda Rapp, a Johns Hopkins University professor of cognitive science, "The question out there for parents and educators is why should our kids spend any time doing handwriting. Obviously, you're going to be a better hand-writer if you practice it. But since people are handwriting less then maybe who cares? The real question is: Are there other benefits to handwriting that have to do with reading and spelling and understanding? We find there most definitely are."
The study revealed that, even if all the participants involved in the research were good at recognizing letters, the writing training gave better results in all other measures, while requiring less time to get there. The handwriting group ended up with higher skills considered as expert adult-level reading and spelling. The scientists explained that it's because handwriting strengthens visual and aural practice, a benefit which has nothing to do with penmanship itself. The simple process of writing by hand induces a perceptual-motor experience that reinforces what we are learning.
Picture: Boy writing by Albert Anker (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects & Crop)