I applaud teacher Tracy Burns and the Gorham school district for bringing cursive writing into the curriculum (Jan. 6). Waldorf schools, since their founding almost 100 years ago, have taught cursive writing to help foster and develop a wide range of capacities that have been validated by recent advances in neuroscience.

Writing by hand stimulates areas of the brain that foster language development and working memory. Likewise, we can observe how eye-hand coordination is strengthened when we have the opportunity to practice cursive. This is evident if you play catch or Frisbee with a child or teach them to juggle or use a diabolo. These repetitive actions help to develop the neural circuitry that is used to strengthen capacities needed in many other life skills (music, sports, art, etc.).

Psychologist David Sortino, in his 2013 article on cursive writing and brain research, observed that cursive writing raised special education children’s self-esteem and/or linguistic abilities. According to Sortino, “the cerebellum also acts to support limbic (emotional) functions such as attention, impulse control and cognitive processes located in the frontal lobe.”

We, therefore, see a neural benefit to the practice of cursive writing. As neuroscientist Stephen Porges noted in 2015, these skills help develop competencies in the social nervous system, which governs our ability to successfully interact in social situations.

Moreover, according to Sortino, “cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing, typing or keyboarding.” Cursive writing also helps the brain to integrate visual and tactile information, along with fine motor dexterity, psychologist Anne Mangen and neurophysiologist Jean-Luc Velay have concluded. Cursive writing likewise engages students by providing a better sense of personal style, artistic flair and ownership.

With these many benefits available to students, hopefully more schools will bring back the teaching of cursive handwriting.

David Eichler

pedagogical director, Maine Coast Waldorf School

Freeport