The North Syracuse Central School District believes good penmanship is essential for good communication. It is important to hold students to the high degree of legibility at all times. The emphasis should be on simplicity, function, and exposure when teaching students to write in manuscript or cursive. Our philosophical stand is to promote functional handwriting for all.
In regards to cursive, research has shown that putting pen to paper stimulates the brain like nothing else, even in this age of e-mails, texts and tweets. Learning to write in cursive has shown to improve brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory because it promotes automaticity in forming letters. Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing. As a result, the physical act of writing in cursive leads to increased comprehension and participation.
Recently, there has been much discussion about where cursive writing should be taught in our district programming during our District Steering Committee meetings (DSC); therefore, please let this memo serve as the guide for 2015-16 school year, with the intent that cursive writing will be further studied and possible changes could result for an implementation in the 2016-17 school year.
Students in grades Pre-K, K, and 1 will follow the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) manuscript for letter formation. It is important to model all correct letter formation and techniques at all times.
Second grade will follow Zaner-Bloser, as they have in the past, and will have an introduction to HWT in the second semester as they will inherit first graders with HWT understanding in the fall. The transition from manuscript to cursive will begin in the second semester of second grade. Students will begin to be introduced and exposed to the lower case letters and the capital letters used within his/her name. The remainder of the upper case letters will be taught in the first semester of third grade.
Third grade will introduce all letters of the alphabet in cursive and practice this skill throughout the year.
Fourth grade, because there may be a lapse in introduction for the students, and because this will be a transition year when further study will be done, the focus is to promote functional handwriting – students finding their personal preference with the goal of being legible at all times.