The transition to cursive writing occurs at about the third grade level. Manuscript is begun in kindergarten. Researchers have discovered that second- and third-graders make a smoother transition from printing to cursive writing than older children. Cursive is easier for many children because each word consists of one continuous line where all elements flow together. It is a combination of slanting lines, curves, and check-like strikes.
Practice is what helps a child adapt the fine motor skills required in both manuscript and cursive writing. A good teacher will help the child position the paper. The slant of the paper affects the slant of each cursive letter. Completely mastering manuscript is not necessary. The thought is that cursive can be learned when the child is ready. A note from grandpa, written in cursive, when grandpa knows the child can read, may trigger the cursive learning. Children see it as grown-up writing. Some educators recommend a curved manuscript form of writing, but this approach has not been widely accepted in elementary schools.
Writing is important, and many adults attain a stylized pattern of writing that has blends of both. Encourage your child to master writing before the ever-present computer and printer starts to gain his or her attention.