I teach high school and 98% of my students print. And I prefer it that way--cursive is harder to read.
My mother is a Montessori teacher. When I began teaching my daughter to write, she stressed teaching her cursive first. She said she used to not think it was a big deal, but after 30 yrs of teaching, she is convinced it is the way to go. She also said children will not have trouble reading print even if they learn cursive first. She told me that there is less letter confusion in cursive and everything pretty much moves in one direction, you don't really have to pick up your hand while writing cursive so it can be less confusing... I think it's probably also good for fine motor development.
I think it's a shame that some of my friends do not even know how to write a true signature. I think it is easier to take notes in cursive (usually, it depends on how my hands are feeling!)
My son's first grade Montessori teacher agrees with your mother. She made a lot of very good points wrt cursive, most of which you shared already. She said that it was easier for younger children to master than printing as well. She compared it to drawing. She said, "when children draw, they draw in a flowing way. They will always draw a circle before a square." This made a whole lot of sense to me.
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