Some links to research on cursive handwriting:
What Learning Cursive Does to Your Brain
(thank you anonymous commenter for the updated link!)
Cursive Benefits Go Beyond Writing
Brain Research and Cursive Writing
Should Schools Still Teach Cursive?
Study: Learning Cursive in First Grade Helps Students
Web Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20130928170510/https://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/sep/16/study-learning-cursive-first-grade-helps-students/
Biological and Psychological Benefits of Learning Cursive
Ten Reasons People Still Need Cursive
(contains many further links)
Why Writing By Hand Could Make You Smarter
Cursive writing, compared to printing, should be even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation. Cursive is also faster and more likely to engage students by providing a better sense of personal style and ownership.
Each one of these studies focuses on learning cursive in approximately 2nd-4th grade (ages 7-9). The naysayers to cursive typically are the ones not realizing that the sensitive period for languages is 0-6 years of age, thus we should be giving the children the keys (muscle memory of the letter shapes, sounds of the letters) before age 6, at which time they receive all they need to read/write in cursive AND in print (because print just "happens" with children who start with cursive).
Then, we can spend those elementary years working on composition skills and pursuing SO many other interests pertinent to the elementary age - the second plane of development.
Montessori Articles:Why Cursive First? (fantastic bullet-pointed list)
Should We Still Teach Handwriting in the Montessori Classroom?
(read the comments on this one for sure!)
There are plenty more, very excellent, articles - and quite a few not so excellent ones (both Montessori and non-Montessori). But these ones hit the main ideas.
More Montessori Nuggets on Cursive:Cursive Writing - 1
Cursive Writing - 2
Cursive Writing - 3
Cursive Writing - 4
Writing - Montessori Nuggets on the Process
Writing - Elementary
Cursive Montessori Materials:
- Sandpaper Letters - Individual and Phonogram
- Movable Alphabet - wooden cut-out figures
- Small tiled Movable Alphabet - on tiles, with capital/lowercase on reverse of each other, punctuation
- Within a set of 5 handwriting charts, there are those that place the cursive next to the print counterpart.
Montessori Nugget on these Alphabets: All Those Movable Alphabets