Handwriting in the Digital Age

June 9, 2011 | By | Comments (3)

What to do when you are the mother of a nine-year-old boy with atrocious handwriting?

Since my son first learned to hold a pencil, he has produced letters that are borderline illegible. Starting in kindergarten, his teachers would point out his lack of skill in this area. As a result, we’ve tried a number of interventions including occupational therapy consults. When we couldn’t solve the problem through practice we tried devices: mechanical pencils, white erasers, pink erasers, lined tablets, pencil grips, electric pencil sharpeners. We event tried a handwriting tutor. Nothing has helped.

At a school conference today the subject of my son’s handwriting came up yet again. I acknowledged his teacher’s frustrations and imagined her suffering at his desk side. At home I insist he practice, but I’m no Tiger Mom. Short of putting my hand over his as he holds his pencil, what can I do?

Part of me wants to fast-forward to a time when laptops and tablets are the classroom norm and handwriting has become obsolete (my son is nothing if not computer savvy). But another part of me—the part that treasures a handwritten letter and the ability to fill out a job application—understands that legible handwriting is necessary and it says something about us. For better or worse.

Some of the most successful professionals I know—doctors, lawyers, even college professors—have atrocious handwriting. I can’t help but wonder if their handwriting has always been this way. If so, then maybe my son’s scribbles will mean career success later in life.

As one with fairly neat handwriting (not to mention a love for rollerball pens and bond paper) I’ve see my own script decline in recent years as I use keyboards more often. Maybe handwriting as we know it will become a lost art, gone the way of the ink and quill. Unfortunately, for my little boy, I don’t think that can happen soon enough.

Do you think it’s important to keep putting pen to paper or is the keyboard a better choice for today? What do you think your handwriting says about you?