This is pretty rapidly moving from being controversial to outright unpopular. Of course, popularity in no way affects truth.
Parents all have an opportunity to raise their children for the future or to raise them in the past. Parents have an opportunity to demonstrate what should be learned and instill adaptation and innovation as virtues.
Where you come in on all these issues affects this particular issue, which is why I am vehemently passionate about my position, because it is a part of broader value placed on relevance and progress. I don't believe a compelling argument can be made for devaluation of these, so I'm unsure why there would be so much disagreement on this issue, but I'm happy to field further questions here or elsewhere and explain my views as best as I can.
"When I was learning to write, the teacher insisted all the strokes begin at the top-left."
While I was in school, the decision was made to stop teaching handwriting, starting with cursive, and then moving on to any instruction at all as I went through grades. It's fairly likely I'm between you and your child in age, so I'm guessing I experienced the paradigm shift you are concerned with directly. If the writing isn't causing performance problems in class, hand-writing methodology is and should be irrelevant, as it will certainly not be utilized anywhere outside of class in life.
"focusing more on form when we get to cursive."
I've compiled a brief list of reasons to learn to write cursive:
Actually let's do the converse.
And a brief list of reasons not to:
- It's a colossal waste of time.
- It's 2014.
- Fewer people can read it every year.
It is a very normative view that there is a correct way to form letters, and enforcing normative views in education is incredibly dangerous. Cursive is an extension of this.
So, for a direct answer:
"...are there other benefits?"
No, absolutely not.
Extension question: "...are there costs?"