A Different Approach to Reading Cursive Writing

Many children and adults find it especially difficult to read cursive writing. One problem is that the shapes of cursive letters are often inconsistent from word to word, in ways that can make words very hard to recognize.

Look at these cursive words – past / post.

In both words, the third letter is a cursive s — but the “same” cursive s is very different each time:

A learner who has memorized the cursive s in past (where it needs to start at the bottom) is likely not to recognize the “same” cursive s in post (where it needs to start at the top).

For any learner — but especially for one whose neurology is not the “average” that textbook publishers assume — all this can deeply shatter confidence and motivation.

Does it have to be this way?

Can we make cursive make sense to all learners — even if they don’t write cursive, or if they don’t write by hand at all?

What if we showed our learners how cursive happened?

My new book, Read Cursive Fast, takes this approach: offering three easy stages to lasting cognitive comprehension (not just fragile rote memorization) of what makes a cursive letter a G or a Z or an r or an s — and why. Now, learners’ visual strengths, pattern-recognition strengths, and cognitive strengths can work in synchrony instead of being neglected or frustrated,

Step One: Show how cursive letters happened:

When readers are allowed and encouraged to learn how cursive letters came about, remembering the cursive shapes makes cognitive/pattern-recognition sense, and does not have to rely solely on rote memory.

Here’s an example for the letter G:

Read Cursive Fast uses a pattern-recognition/cognitive approach to “unlock” the visuals of every cursive letter. Some letters need to be cracked in step-by-step detail, while others can be “cracked” more simply:

When you see the print-style s hiding inside cursive s, you can see why the cursive s looks different after lowercase o versus the way it looks after lowercase a.

Building pattern recognition and understanding into the learning task makes for faster progress and greater retention, by providing another route to comprehension. Cursive writing is not the only path to cursive reading — for many students, it is not even a reliable path.

Step Two: Sustained Reading

Once students recognize cursive letters alone and in words and phrases, it’s time to build automaticity and fluency with longer texts. To accomplish this, Read Cursive Fast uses “cursive stories”: passages written in fonts that resemble increasingly difficult styles of handwriting. Here is the opening of one story:

The beginning of each story resembles familiar printed letters, but each sentence adds more and more cursive features, carefully easing readers into understanding increasingly complex forms of cursive.

Step Three: Reading Historical Documents

Once students can read present-day cursive with some fluency, they will eventually want or need to read our nation’s historical documents, many of which are written in very elaborate forms of cursive.

Today, reading historical documents is one of the most frequent reasons for needing to read cursive, but handwriting style variations in past centuries were even more frequent than they are today. This means that most students (particularly those with neurodiverse learning styles) will benefit from practice with historical cursive samples once they are experienced in reading present-day cursive samples.

Therefore, Read Cursive Fast includes a section specifically on historical documents. Learners reaching this point are usually pleased and amazed that they can now read historical material.

When we know how each cursive letter happened, we know (and we never forget) what makes the letter understandable. When cursive letters make sense, we do not need to write cursive in order to read it.. Whatever our own handwriting looks like, whatever style we use, or even if we never write by hand at all, we can make sense of every cursive letter we are shown what parts of a cursive letter make that letter make sense.

Read Cursive Fast

  • Publisher : National Autism Resources (January 1, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Perfect Paperback : 138 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1735935808