In the age of smartphones, tablets and PCs, handwriting is increasingly taking a back seat. The corona pandemic, with schools and universities closed, is also making calls for digital learning concepts louder. Educators wonder whether it is even more important for children to laboriously learn to write by hand or whether it would not be easier and more effective to teach students directly on the digital device. That would save a lot of time and free up capacity for other learning content.
Sweden, the European test laboratory
Some Swedish schools in Sollentuna are already doing this and have decoupled the acquisition of reading from the acquisition of writing. In the first year, the children learn to write exclusively on digital devices. Pen and paper are only used in the second year.
Researchers are now looking to see if this has an impact on student performance. They came to the conclusion that an elaborate educational concept is required so that the acquisition of fonts on the computer has a positive effect.
In China, too, people have been teaching with digital support for some time. The Chinese characters are diverse and do not follow a clear system. To master them, students must memorize and practice for many years.
New concepts no longer rely on copying by hand, but offer digital support. First, the children type the word into the digital device faithfully. Since there can be different meanings in Chinese depending on the accentuation of a word, all possible characters are displayed. The child now only has to choose the right character.
However, researchers have now found that the Chinese students who were taught with digital assistance speak far fewer characters than those who were taught traditionally, in the same age group.
Reading is motor skills
To understand to what extent reading and writing are linked in the brain, scientists took a closer look at the processes involved in reading. You noticed that while reading, motor content is always called up. So the brain not only remembers the letters, but also how to write them. Reading and writing skills are interrelated and it makes sense to learn these skills together. By the way, there is no point in writing on a tablet with a stylus. This is evaluated differently in the brain than writing with pen and paper.
Conclusion: Writing is not a nice accessory
In the past one and a half years, due to the corona pandemic, the students have had a lot of contact with digital media and often spent weeks learning on the computer. Even if digital lessons offer many possibilities, writing by hand should by no means be neglected.
So encourage your child to use pen and paper and practice handwriting with them. This helps your child to deepen what they have learned and improves their reading skills.