Why Writing by Hand Makes Kids Smarter
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2020 Oct 01
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
New brain research shows that writing by hand helps children learn more and remember better. At the same time, schools are becoming more and more digital, and a European survey shows that Norwegian children spend the most time online among 19 countries in the EU.
Professor Audrey van der Meer at NTNU believes that national guidelines should be put into place to ensure that children receive at least a minimum of handwriting training.
Results from several studies have shown that both children and adults learn more and remember better when writing by hand.
Now another study confirms the same: choosing handwriting over keyboard use yields the best learning and memory.
"When you write your shopping list or lecture notes by hand, you simply remember the content better afterward," Van der Meer says.
In 2017, she examined the brain activity of 20 students. She has now published a study in which she examined brain activity in twelve young adults and twelve children.
This is the first time that children have participated in such a study.
Both studies were conducted using an EEG to track and record brain wave activity. The participants wore a hood with over 250 electrodes attached.
The brain produces electrical impulses when it is active. The sensors in the electrodes are very sensitive and pick up the electrical activity that takes place in the brain.
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.
She believes that her own and others' studies emphasize the importance of children being challenged to draw and write at an early age, especially at school.