My son is five and a half and he is in a hurry to learn how to write in cursive. As the youngest, he also wanted to read
as soon as possible and he took it upon himself to speed the process. He learned how to read on his own!
In a day and age when we all type, including myself on this blog, handwriting has become an obsolete skill, together with looking up a word in the dictionary and calculating mathematics without a calculator. Do you remember the 80s Casio watches with calculators?
Yet, the French curriculum is very attached to its calligraphy courses. They call pre-handwriting "graphisme" lending it an artistic, design character. French students write on various types of note books and end up with a very checkered one to insure very precise calligraphy: the style is called Seyes, and I enjoy writing on the very smooth Clairefontaine Seyes paper, till this day. French students are also encouraged to use the old style ink pens: they don't carry ink bottles though! Everyone in primary school must write in cursive. That goes without saying!
It was a challenge for me to write nicely in Arabic; in that culture it is even more important to have a distinguished writing. Arabic calligraphy is an art. Till this day, my Arabic handwriting is influenced by my Western calligraphy: I don't seem to write in a flowing way, but take it a letter at a time. Only when I took Farsi classes as an adult, when I made a deliberate effort to re-learn the Arabic script, did it improve slightly. But some may argue that I have "urdu"ized my Arabic script. It certainly is a lost cause!
When my cousin got married, she remembered me and my handwriting skill and requested that I write the addresses on the invitation envelops. Our close friend offered the assistance of her husband because she claimed he had perfect penmanship. And so we watched with utter curiosity as her husband scribbled a doctor's handwriting of a note. He was delegated to stuff the envelops without further ado!