Imagine a world overrun with technology – replacing all writing instruments, and handwriting in general. No more handwritten love letters, notes, cards; the list goes on and on. We can’t imagine a world without handwriting, and lucky for us, we probably don’t need to worry. No matter how much technology is out there, some things, like handwriting, promote deeper learning skills for both children and adults.
But the gap is closing, as children are taught proficiency on the keyboard just after first grade. Now there’s no interrupting progress of technology, but we had to ask ourselves, what are we losing as we begin to write less? Evidence suggests a deep connection between handwriting and education development. So deep, that even by writing a single letter, a unique neural circuit in the human body automatically activates.
Replicate the shapeKarin James, Psychologist at IU, led a study in 2012 that supports this view. The study asked children who haven’t learned to read or write, to replicate a shape or letter on an index card by either tracing it on page with a dotted outline, drawing it on a blank paper, or typing it on the computer. Children who chose the blank paper showed increased brain activity in three areas of the brain that adults use when they read and write. Children who typed or traced the shape had much weaker results. One explanation is that the children who wrote on white paper had to think about the execution first, which led to more brain activity and cognitive thinking.
Put it to another study
In another study conducted by Karin James, she compared children who wrote letters with those who watched the other children write the letters. Her observations suggest that only the actual effort of writing engages the brain’s motor pathways – not by watching. So, you learn by doing. All things considered, when writing by hand, learning is made easier!
Adults should write, too
But the benefits of handwriting go far beyond childhood. Adults may be able to type faster, but it won’t make up for their diminishing ability to process new information. Check out our other blog, 4 Benefits of Handwriting Notes Vs. Typing on Laptops, for more information about that!