California’s elementary students are bringing back cursive writing, using pens instead of keyboards. A new law, Assembly Bill 446, now requires handwriting lessons for the state’s 2.6 million students in grades one to six, aged 6 to 12. Starting from the third grade, it is required to teach cursive writing. The law, advocated by former teacher Sharon Quirk-Silva, was signed in October with the goal of revitalizing the declining tradition of cursive writing.

Experts support the move, arguing that learning cursive contributes to cognitive development, reading comprehension, and fine motor skills. Teachers, like those at Orangethorpe Elementary in Fullerton, are already incorporating cursive instruction. Despite initial challenges reported by students, many find joy in the elegance of cursive and the ability to decipher historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution written in 1787. The decline of cursive started with the rise of computer keyboards and tablets, worsened by its omission from the 2010 Common Core education standards. California’s move marks a comeback for cursive, making it the 22nd state to require cursive handwriting. Research suggests that cursive promotes distinct neural networks and enhances childhood development. Quirk-Silva hopes that, by the time students complete sixth grade, they will be proficient in both reading and writing cursive, emphasizing the return as not just about mastering a handwriting style but also fostering essential cognitive skills in the digital age.