A pupil does handwriting exercises during a language class.
A pupil does handwriting exercises during a language class. (© Albert Gea / Reuters)

My third-grade son is an anomaly. He actually enjoys a school subject, which -- much to our chagrin -- is being scrubbed from elementary schools nationwide.

The subject in question is cursive handwriting, which P.J., age 9, first started mastering this year. He enjoys practicing it as he completes book reports and pens original stories. To him, cursive feels like he's perfecting a secret code that he believes "no one can read anymore."

If education administrators get their way, that just might be the case.

Cursive has become an optional subject in elementary school classrooms across the country as educators adapt to students' practical needs in a digital age. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core curriculum in their elementary schools, which does not require cursive instruction.

Parents who want their children to learn how to read and write cursive can turn to apps on the very devices that are making handwriting obsolete.

TeachWithYouriPad.com is an online clearinghouse for downloadable apps that can help students practice cursive on their own time. A similar search for "cursive handwriting" on the app finder lisisoft.com reveals 25 online programs that range from intensive instruction (the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting-Cursive app will challenge older students) to playful games (the Cursive Alphabet Monster will help lure young kids into handwriting lessons).


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The program ABC Cursive Writing turns iPads into writing tablets, allowing students to practice upper case, lower case, whole words and cursive sentences. Similar programs such as iCanWrite and iWriteWords can help parents create cursive lessons at home. Practice on these programs can, in time, push kids to more advanced programs such as Sentence Builder and Story Builder, a multipurpose app that educates kids on story structure.

Parents simply have to take a more active stance in retaining cursive instruction, before the scripted word joins carrier pigeons and smoke signals on the growing list of outdated methods of communication.