New studies have linked handwriting with stronger letter recognition and reading development. Since the advent of the computer, people have been arguing that handwriting should play a less central role in education since most communication will occur through keyboarding. This argument though is not supported by recent studies by Associate professor Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger’s Reading Centre and neurophysiologist Jean-Luc Velay at the University of Marseille. By examining the research, they have confirmed that learning handwriting plays a significant role in learning to read.
The English-speaking world needs to talk about reading. It is not right that 68% of our students read below grade level in 8th grade and 37% are functionally illiterate. There is no excuse. We have the scientific and linguistic knowledge to solve this problem.
Functional MRI studies are uncovering amazing information about how the brain learns to read. Reading occurs in the back left side of the brain in the areas which control language and sound. Students who do not know how to read well compensate for low activity in the language centers by using the front right side of their brain. The reading and non-reading brains are functioning differently.
The National Reading Panel (NRP) was commissioned by Congress in 1997 to evaluate the research literature and determine what is known about effective methods to teach reading. The panel screened over 100,000 studies related to reading, held regional hearings and reviewed the testimony of teachers, parents, and researches. The report, issued in 2000, identified systematic, synthetic phonics as an essential component to effective reading instruction.
“Phonics instruction is a way of teaching reading that stresses the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences and their use in reading and spelling."