At OneInMath, one of our founding principles is practice, practice, practice. And it is practice by writing on paper. There is now a research that shows that writing by hand helps children learn more and remember better.
Van der Meer and her colleagues at Norwegian University of Science and Technology have recently published a study they conducted in 2020, with 12 adults and 12 children. This is the first time children participated in such a study.
Each examination took 45 minutes per person, and the researchers received 500 data points per second.
The results showed that the brain in both young adults and children is much more active when writing by hand than when typing on a keyboard.
“The use of pen and paper gives the brain more ‘hooks’ to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain. A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write and hearing the sound you make while writing. These sense experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning. We both learn better and remember better,” says Van der Meer.
“Learning to write by hand is a bit slower process, but it’s important for children to go through the tiring phase of learning to write by hand. The intricate hand movements and the shaping of letters are beneficial in several ways. If you use a keyboard, you use the same movement for each letter. Writing by hand requires control of your fine motor skills and senses. It’s important to put the brain in a learning state as often as possible. I would use a keyboard to write an essay, but I’d take notes by hand during a lecture,” says Van der Meer.
“The brain has evolved over thousands of years. It has evolved to be able to take action and navigate appropriate behavior. In order for the brain to develop in the best possible way, we need to use it for what it’s best at. We need to live an authentic life. We have to use all our senses, be outside, experience all kinds of weather and meet other people. If we don’t challenge our brain, it can’t reach its full potential. And that can impact school performance,” says Van der Meer.
Eva Ose Askvik, F. R. (Ruud) van der Weel, Audrey L. H. van der Meer. The Importance of Cursive Handwriting Over Typewriting for Learning in the Classroom: A High-Density EEG Study of 12-Year-Old Children and Young Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 2020; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01810