In a Digital World, Does Your Child Really Need to Know Handwriting?

In an era where keyboards reign, many parents and educators will argue that learning handwriting is not only passé, but it’s a waste of time at that. Why bother to learn when mainstream culture seems to be filled with opportunities to communicate in any way but long-form handwriting?

From voice messages to texting and emailing, the argument has a lot of streamlined heft backing it up.

But, according to many experts (including ourselves), this is detrimental for many reasons. First and foremost, knowing how to write with pencil and paper gives you the opportunity to slow down, to think, and to have an intimate conversation. Typing or texting, on the other hand, are built for speed. And while there is a time and a place for just that, everyone can agree that going too fast, too much of the time isn’t good for anyone.

In addition to slowing down, knowing how to handwrite, especially for children, gives them an opportunity to create with their hands, which is an essential step when it comes to “the development of reading, writing and critical thinking skills,” according to the longtime educator John Russell, the head of Windward School in White Plains, New York.

Other experts note the importance of handwriting for dealing with emotions. In the case of condolences, or love notes, there is something very special about one that is handwritten. It is fueled with much more personality and authenticity than any email ever could be. There’s a reason why handwritten cards and letters are treasured keepsakes. The fact that handwriting allows us to express our emotions is another reason why it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t become a lost art any time soon. Children who are able to write long-form have just one more tool in their tool belt for coping with lifelong emotions.

Want your child to excel in academics and in life?

Growing research is demonstrating the importance of handwriting with experts, like Virginia Berninger who is a educational psychology professor at the University of Washington, saying that the basic skill of “forming letters engages the mind,” which can “help children pay attention to written language.”

Reading and writing — not typing — go hand-in-hand for a reason. By supporting your child in learning how to write, both in print and cursive, you are giving them just one more opportunity to not only do well in life, but to enjoy it, too.

Written by Rina P. Collins, founder and educational director of Book Nook Enrichment, an early literacy studio based in New York City. Visit us at to learn more about how our classes inspire the next generation of learners!