Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pencils v. Keypads: What is Your Child Missing Out On?

Face it. In a world where technology rules all, adults seldom pick up pens and pencils to write notes, but instead turn to keyboards and touchpads. Even as the ease and speed of technology saves busy parents valuable time, young children are now falling into the same routine.

And they lose a very critical element in learning : handwriting.

Bid farewell to the god-like patience of a teacher guiding students hands over and under dashed lines to perfect penmanship. Forty states have adopted the Common Core Curriculum, the nation’s guide of what’s to be taught in classrooms. Cursive didn’t make the cut.

In fact, it is common for teachers nowadays to exclude hand writing from the curriculum altogether and focus more on typing -- a more 21st century approach.

Studies have shown that hand writing boosts learning functions for all ages, especially grade school students. Young students develop better motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as an improved learning of shapes and letters. A recent study from Indiana University showed handwriting even increases brain activity and improves memory for children.

Even with the benefits of hand writing, there is no sign of technology slowing down. A study by Parenting/BlogHer polled over 1,000 tech- savvy mothers and found that 1 in 4 mothers allow their children to interact with a smart phone by the tender age of two. By the time the children turn four, 60% of children have used a computer, 43% have used a digital camera, 32% have used a smart phone, 25% have used an iPod, and 14% have used a tablet computer.

Judy Perry, Professor of Computer Science at California State University, Fullerton, cringes at those statistics.

“Not my children!” She says.

Perry has created computer programs to help her children learn the basics of grade school, but even her expertise in technology cannot help with all aspects of learning. Her son, who is now 10, was born at just four pounds. Since then, his motor skills have not fully developed for his age. Perry helps him practice certain exercises to develop his motor skills, such as beading, and yes, handwriting.

Sometimes, it's just the little things that may motivate our young ones to keep writing. Our online store offers fun pencil cases, pencils, erasers, and more to help sharpen the skills so little people knew were developed through hand writing.

While yesterday’s signatures are now today’s PIN numbers, it is hard to say whether or not the penmanship of future generations will start to resemble a doctor’s prescription note. That may be the case one day, especially if children have their hands on keypads instead and away from pencils.

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