Student Writing in Her NotebookJust last week, one of my cousins emailed to ask if she might send some writings she’d come across while going through papers from her great aunt’s estate. I always appreciate anything handwritten by relatives, especially those from my childhood, as such letters are rare. Yes, I wrote back. And yesterday the writings arrived in my snail mail.

At first I didn’t know what to make of one of the enclosures—a single 5½ x 8½ note written in script, with no salutation or signature. On this sheet, not in my own writing, was a short poem I wrote in third grade, entitled “Come Out in the World.” I remember writing this poem on a beautiful spring evening, out of my lingering frustration at having been shut inside at school that day when I wanted so much to be running around and playing outside in nature. Although I usually loved school, our class sessions had been especially tedious, and I took time after dinner to amend my disappointment by writing a poem—discovering the joy of using rhythmic language to transform anxiety.

Now, nearly six decades later, I recognized in the strokes of the handwriting the distinguishing curves and slant of my grandmother, who had copied my poem and mailed it to her sister. With the recognition came, in an instant, a familiar, vivid sense of my grandmother Elizabeth’s presence. Through the shape and flow of her particular graphology, she was suddenly near. I could see her face and the characteristics of her gentle hands, could hear her voice, and realized as never before her listening, her caring and intelligence . . . her unique seeing of the eight-year-old me. Perhaps, in reproducing my poem, my grandmother was even looking into the future and seeing my current self. This is the gift that her handwriting brought me, across time.

Two of the older children who I showed this note to couldn’t read it. Cursive writing, like a lost language from some distant country, is no longer taught in many American schools. I can understand why, as many people don’t realize that it’s difficult to write in a continuous flow if the hand is positioned in a way that inhibits reciprocal thumb and finger motion*; yet this motion is easy to access when using Lazy 8s and other Brain Gym® activities. I think about the transmission that came through so clearly to me in my grandmother’s script, and I wonder how our children of today will send such missives into the future.

Here, if you’d like to read it, is that early poem.


Come Out in the World

Locked in a den

Where everything’s cold?

Come out in the world

Where everything’s told.

Come out in the world

Where everything’s bright.

Come out in the world

And see the big sights.

Come out in the world

Where everything’s light.

Come out in the world

And make things be right.

For every minute things may go.

But other things may be real slow.

And so the world is filled with laughter.

Come out and be happy ever after.


For more thoughts about cursive writing, see In Celebration of Handwriting.

*Lazy 8s and other activities that support reciprocal thumb and finger movement are described in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, © 2010 by Dennison and Dennison.  

© 2013 by Gail E. Dennison; updated 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.


%d bloggers like this: