Why we Teach Cursive Letters in our Preschool by Cathy Wilson Deputy Principal, Preschool

I often get asked, “Why do we present cursive letters to tamariki (children) in the Preschool, instead of print?”

While I realise this question is not as important  for those in the High School, it will go some way to explain something that continues to impact tamariki in the Primary School and through to adult life.

In 2007 we began discussing using print sand paper letters versus using cursive sand paper letters for the Preschool. Letters were already being written in cursive in the Primary Classes.

In 2008 after much research and many conversations at all levels of the school, we changed all of our sandpaper letters, moveable alphabets and any writing the teachers did in front of tamariki, from print to cursive.

Our reasons included the following;

1.      Tamariki are in a Sensitive Period for movement at 0 – 4 years, a Sensitive Period for language at 0 – 6 years and a Sensitive Period for refinement of the senses at 0 – 5 years. For the years of 0 – 6, tamariki also have an Absorbent Mind which allows them to take in everything they are exposed to with ease. This is the time to present cursive letters to tamariki and to encourage them to practice to form them. It makes no sense to present sandpaper letters in print during this time and encourage tamariki to form letters in print, only to ask them to change from printing to writing in cursive  when they move over to Primary at 6 years when their Absorbent Mind and Sensitive Periods have ended.

2.      Many tamariki in the past were struggling with particular letters around the wrong way – e.g. ‘d’ and ‘b’ and ‘p’ and ‘q’. Due to the formation of letters with cursive, this problem has reduced dramatically.

3.      Tamariki naturally draw curves, squiggly lines and circles which lead to cursive letters. These are far easier for tamariki to form than the straight lines needed for print letters. Therefore tamariki take more pleasure from cursive letters and get beautiful results quicker.

4.      Tamariki have fewer challenges leaving gaps between cursive words since it is obvious when a word stops and starts.

5.      Writing in cursive is good for the brain as integration of the left and right hemisphere of the brain occurs.

6.         When we form letters as adults, we usually write in cursive, or a mixture of cursive and print, rather than purely print. So, why present print letters to children when they are not useful through to adult hood?

As you see from this, there are many really good reasons for us to be presenting cursive letters in Preschool. It is still going to be a few more years before all the tamariki in the school are writing in cursive rather than print, however, we are seeing the results of tamariki now moving from Preschool to Primary with beautiful hand writing.

This will continue to improve, with all tamariki throughout the school eventually naturally forming letters in this way.