The Cursive Versus Foundation Font Controversy

Today’s post relates to the controversy that exists in Australian schools over the use of Cursive versus foundation font for Kindergarten to year 2 students and is prompted by an email from a recent PLD Learning Resources professional development day attendee.

Dear Diana, I attended your PD session on Oral Language on Monday and have returned to school full of enthusiasm and ready to re-vamp our K-1 scope and sequence. Following a discussion with my Principal and I had a question that needed to be answered. We are currently discussing foundation versus cursive font and are looking for research espousing the pros and cons for each. Are you able to enlighten us?

The choice between teaching students a cursive versus foundation font is a very controversial question!

In terms of deciding which font to focus on in your junior primary, despite the education departments recommend cursive, PLD’s view would be to recommend a foundation font from Kindergarten to Year 2 and then to focus on a cursive font thereafter.

Why?

The occupational therapists I have employed have explained that a cursive tick (that is the final aspect of letter formation in cursive fonts) is quite a mature controlled movement and often an inappropriate expectation for young students. What you will frequently observe is young students finishing letters with a large or elongated tick, rather than finishing letter formation with a small and controlled tick. You will also observe students forming the letter and then after taking their pencil off the page adding the cursive tick onto the end of letters in a secondary movement. Hence from an occupational therapy point of view, cursive font introduced in the early years will often challenge students; hence also impacting their posture and pencil grip.

From a literacy point of view, when cursive font is focused upon in the junior years we are presenting young children with a reading font (typically a foundation font) and a spelling/writing font (a cursive font). This adds a level of complexity for students and particularly when dealing with certain letters (e.g. p, r, b etc.)

From a research point of view we hear the myth “a cursive font will transition students to joined writing with greater ease.” I refer to this statement as a myth as there is research suggesting the opposite also. Yes it is a point of great debate within education and within the research.

 

Having a consistent font is important for a school. But PLD’s view-point is always to suggest a foundation font in K to 2 and thereafter a cursive font.