CLARKS SUMMIT — Youngsters trickling into the Ryon Room at the Abington Community Library May 11 weren’t there to play games, watch movies or be entertained by a performer, as one might have assumed from their enthusiasm.
The students were there to learn and practice their handwriting.
The Cursive Club is an introductory eight-week course on cursive writing for students in kindergarten through second grade at the library. Rather than treat it like a traditional classroom, however, club facilitators Sandy Longo and Laura Gardoski use activities and practice stations that keep things enjoyable.
“We work hard to cultivate an environment that is not only structured and educational, but also fun and engaging,” Gardoski, head of youth services, said. “There are no grades given – instead we learn and practice together, creating an atmosphere of trust and encouragement.”
The session started out with a short video animation showing the cursive alphabet, with which each child followed along, “tracing” the letters with their fingers in the air. They then practiced on paper some letters they learned during the previous session. Next, they moved on to the various “stations” set up around the room that included white boards, flash cards, and other learning tools.
According to Longo, assistant director at the library, the idea for the club came to her after she learned that schools were no longer required under Common Core Standards to include cursive in their curriculum. The library then conducted a survey to gauge interest. When 25 names appeared on the list of those interested, they started planning the first session.
“My concerns for the omission are practical,” Longo said. “Today’s children will become teens entering university or the job market alongside people of varying ages, and they may struggle with handwritten messages or directions from professors or co-workers. As adults, they may become involved with genealogy research for their families. Many genealogical documents are in cursive. Additionally, the practice of cursive writing is purposeful, and leads to brain development in the areas of critical thinking, increasing working memory, and developing language skills.”
The current Cursive Club session will end on Wednesday, June 8, with the intent to resume in the fall. Casual practice sessions focusing on the interactive activities will also be facilitated during the summer by Elizabeth Tarr, library staff member.
Those interested in signing up for future Cursive Club sessions should check the library website, at bit.ly/1R4ogaZ. The library can also be reached by phone at 570-587-3440.