Calgary

Handwriting skills waning, mother laments

In the age of laptops and text messaging, students in Alberta schools are no longer learning to master the fundamental skill of handwriting, according to an Airdrie mother.
Handwriting skills aren't taught as thoroughly as they used to be in Alberta schools, says an Airdrie mother.
In the age of laptops and text messaging, students in Alberta schools are no longer learning to master the fundamental skill of handwriting, according to an Airdrie mother.

Cursive writing — while still taught — seems to have become mostly an afterthought in the classroom, said Carmen Maidstone.

She recently realized her teenaged son is barely able to connect his letters, preferring instead to print.

"He had to do his signature on his bank card, and he was required to do it right there in the bank, and he looked at me, and he said, 'Mom, how do I do this?'," she said.

Cursive writing is still a mandatory part of the curriculum, said Joan Engel, a curriculum director with Alberta Education.

But teachers and schools have the discretion to decide how much time to spend on it, she added.

"How an individual teacher might deliver a particular outcome, or sets of outcomes, is really their decision, or the school districts' decision."

Maidstone said her son's teachers did not adequately teach handwriting skills.

"His teachers in Grade 4 and 5 just didn't focus on it," she said, adding that, when she went to school in the 1970s, cursive writing was given much more emphasis.

"We all strived to do it exactly as we were being taught. It was very important to the teachers, and so subsequently it was very important to everybody in the class that they had very neat handwriting."

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