California’s grade school students are trading keyboards for paper as they embrace the revival of cursive handwriting. Starting this year, a new law, Assembly Bill 446, mandates handwriting instruction for the 2.6 million Californians in grades one to six, typically aged 6 to 12. Cursive lessons are specifically required for “appropriate” grade levels, generally considered to be third grade and above. Former elementary school teacher Sharon Quirk-Silva sponsored the bill, signed into law in October, aiming to rekindle the fading art of cursive writing.

Experts affirm that learning cursive contributes to cognitive development, reading comprehension, and fine motor skills, among other benefits. Teachers at schools like Orangethorpe Elementary in Fullerton have already embraced cursive instruction, with educators like Pamela Keller encouraging students by highlighting the brain-boosting advantages. Despite some initial difficulty reported by students, many find joy in the elegance of cursive and the ability to decipher historical documents, like the U.S. Constitution written in 1787. The decline of cursive began with the proliferation of computer keyboards and tablets, exacerbated by the omission of cursive from the 2010 Common Core education standards. However, California’s recent move marks a comeback for cursive, making it the 22nd state to require cursive handwriting. Research indicates that cursive promotes distinct neural networks and enhances childhood development. The legislation’s sponsor, Quirk-Silva, hopes that by the time students complete sixth grade, they will be proficient in both reading and writing cursive. The return of cursive is not only about mastering a handwriting style but also about fostering essential cognitive skills in the digital age.