Is there a best sequence in which to learn printing, cursive writing and key stroking? Yes, according to research.
- First children should learn to print letters, using either a pen or pencil, from toddler years through second grade.
- Then, during third and fourth grade, children should learn and switch to cursive handwriting.
- Beginning in fifth grade, children should learn to keystroke.
This sequence is connected to how the brain of a child develops.
Holding a pencil, forming letters correctly, printing neatly on a horizontal line and using correct spacing to form words is a complex skill requiring coordination of many processes. By four or five years old, most children are capable of this.
Around fourth grade, using cursive writing seems to help children with spelling and composing. The reason is not clear, but researchers speculate that joining letters together in cursive writing helps children to form words from individual letters.
When a child learns to type properly on a keyboard, the fingers from both hands are used, unlike when handwriting. Using both hands might activate connective tissue in the brain which joins different parts of the brain together to perform a task.
(Common Core Standards recommend that children learn to print in first and second grades, but learning to write in cursive is not recommended. As a result, cursive writing is no longer taught in many schools. The Common Core Standards recommend learning to use a keyboard.)