What about handwriting in the PACES?

homeschooling-familyI just listened to a podcast this weekend comparing various views about the importance of teaching handwriting. Some feel it is important that all students learn to write cursive as well as print. Many today are abandoning cursive all together and just teaching basic manual handwriting skills. One person interviewed on this podcast even predicted that with the texting and speech-to-text technologies that our kids are growing up with there will be a day soon when it will not be necessary to teach ANY hand-writing skills! An online article gave some compelling science behind the value of learning cursive writing.

I have observed that more and more homeschooled students are not learning cursive. On a recent PSAT test that I proctored, students were supposed to copy a statement, writing it and their signature in cursive handwriting. A surprising number of the 11th graders were unable to do so.

The PACES do integrate teaching of cursive writing skills at the upper elementary and even junior high level in the English PACES. It is up to the supervisor to determine and then enforce whether cursive should be used for all the writing assignments across the subjects. The parent’s or supervisor’s expectations also determine what quality of handwriting is acceptable.


Here’s my personal opinion (for what it’s worth).
  • Writing is a necessary skill for communicating with others.
  • In today’s world much of that writing can be done with a keyboard which puts less emphasis on handwriting, but communicates clearly.
  • However, hand written communication is still a part of our life so we need to work at making it neat and legible.
With the teens in our Christian school, I’ve become comfortable with these standards and procedures:
  1. All written responses in the PACES across subjects must be legible to anyone, not just the student. I do not insist on cursive, though I encourage it and praise good hand-writing when I see it.
  2. Paragraphs, essays, and longer written assignments I actually prefer that students type on the computer and print out double-spaced. It makes it easier for me to grade their work and easier for them to go back and make corrections quickly and reprint a final copy. (I didn’t get to do that when I was their age, but I sure would have loved to!)
  3. For Word-building sentences, and single-sentence responses in the English PACES, I do not allow students to type them on the computer. I want them to have practice with correct handwriting, spelling, punctuation, etc. It also is easier to grade rather than having slips of paper stapled to too many pages.
  4. I do not allow students to use the computer to write out their Word Building words three times each for the check-ups. The practice of writing the words by hand is a better teaching tool, research has shown. (Also, the computer can do spell-check and copy-paste, which defeats the purpose of the assignment!)

What do YOU require of your students regarding hand-writing? Leave a comment below and tell me about it or about your opinion of manual versus cursive handwriting.

8 Comments to “What about handwriting in the PACES?”

  1. Thanks for this post. My son is 10, and struggles with cursive due to his hypotonia, so I only require him to write about half of each PACE in cursive, and I allow him to print on the other pages.
    Regarding your allowing students to type out their paragraph/long answers, from what age/level would you allow that?


    1. Well, I only work with 7th-12 graders, and I allow all of them to do that if they so choose. If I were in your shoes, I would allow your son to type out the longer answers.

      1. Thanks so much for your feedback. And thanks for this website – it’s a fabulous resource!

        1. Hi Belinda! My 13yo also has hypotonia. He does best with a smooth writing gel pen. We also do some oral or typewritten responses. When he was 10, if he got fatigued, I would ask him for two more(if they were short) written answers and then he would dictate the rest to me. Now at 13 we don’t really have that problem so much. If you are worried about mistakes you can get the pilot frixion pens. They are erasable. My son prefers the ones with the clicker because they are fatter and have a cushioned grip. Best wishes to you!

    2. Hi I totally agree with you but I’m needing support to adapt the paces a little bit because my child is on the autism spectrum. As an artist her cursive is very beautiful but I can’t get her to complete her word building and English paces when both are getting to be consistent with cursive….she is eng 1037 and 1040. We use rubber pencil grips and things that she chews on plus play doh so she can strengthen her hands and wrists but she tires too quickly and we can’t get anymore than two paces done in a school term for English and word building. We are Australian.

  2. My son, who is now 24, and recently promoted to running a big furniture business – after earning a Bachelor of IT with a management major – had handwriting that could only be described as doctor’s prescription pad for much of his “school life”. He typed every paragraph and essay but had to handwrite a lot in his PACEs. He is very bright and we could have simply wasted a long time arguing about cursive … so I permitted neat manuscript. There were no arguments! I only had to say, “Writing is COMMUNICATION. If I can’t read what you have written I will assume that you did it wrong!”

    1. Thanks for sharing – I agree with you, that I’d rather have a piece of writing I can read, and that communicates its meaning well, than a specific font.

  3. Here we are again at the beginning of a new school year, and I find myself facing the never ending dilemma of legible handwriting and cursive. My first thought was to check Pace Success for some advice. Thank you.

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