Handwriting Tips: Getting It Right The First Time (using the lessons in life)
by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L
on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog
I have always been one to say, “Well, that was nice but next time….!” I am never quite satisfied with the status quo. If something didn’t happen quite the way I’d expected, I went on the hunt for a different way to approach it. That’s not to say that I always found a better way – simply a different one. Today I’d like to take some of those lessons learned and turn them into Handwriting Tips for Getting It Right the first Time! Let’s go, shall we?
Tip #1: Never buy a house with a wet basement.
Wet basements are the ultimate turn-off for me when I’m looking for a new home. A soggy bottom means a weak foundation. This hold true for handwriting skills, as well. The early learning stages MUST be built soundly in order for a young writer to develop the appropriate skills for pencil grasp, letter formation and recognition, and fluid handwriting. A weak foundation will result in lots of expensive “remodeling” later on!
Tip #2: Birds do not nest in painted birdhouses.
Yes, that’s true! When we purchased our nifty birdhouse a few years back, I asked the builder why he didn’t paint them? He told me they were “put off” by the paint. Voila! A new fun fact is learned! The same truth can be applied to handwriting practice. If students who are struggling with handwriting skills are discouraged and put off by desk work and pencil-and-paper activities, then it is certainly counterproductive to ask them to spend time on them. Handwriting practice and remediation can be accomplished with plenty of activities that get them up and moving, that provide them with opportunities for art work, or simply look like child’s play! Painted birdhouses mean they will be empty. No sense in that, eh?
Tip #3: Less is more.
As my hubby and I are downsizing and getting ready to move to Arizona, we have come to realize that this saying has enormous value! Phew! Who knew that two people could accumulate so many useless things? They must have been useless because some of them I haven’t even touched in the past 10 years! Having “more” certainly didn’t make our life any better. This same truth is a vital link for handwriting mastery. Practicing letters or words over and over, whether they be on a chalkboard, paper, or in sand, can become tedious and boring. Again, working on the fine and visual motor skills that lay the foundation is more fun and will enhance handwriting skills without your child even knowing he is practicing handwriting! Less boring = more learning!
Tip #4: Don’t believe in coincidences.
The old saying “It was meant to happen” is one that allows us to believe in coincidences. If an event occurs, we can accept it without complaint and step away from the challenge of changing it. Coincidences in handwriting are events that make it easy to accept sloppy and illegible skills. They are the times when we say, “Well, we won’t need handwriting soon because technology will replace it.” Or, “Why would I waste time on handwriting skills when he only needs to learn keyboarding?” The increased use of technology and its capabilities is only a coincidence. Handwriting skills have been and continue to be an important facet of learning – ones that continue to need instruction and remediation when they fall short. Believing in coincidences can stand in the way of a child’s educational success. Now was THAT meant to be?
Tip #5: Money doesn’t grow on trees.
It doesn’t? Man, don’t dash my dreams just yet! Funny, but I think I’ve heard just about every parent I’ve met say that to their child at least once in my presence! Having money is a good thing, of course; but, as we’ve all learned in the end, it needs to be earned and saved. Handwriting mastery works the same way. The skills a child needs for fluid and legible handwriting must be taught using a STRUCTURED PROGRAM, with CONSISTENT PRACTICE, and with GUIDANCE. They don’t simply grow on trees naturally where they can be plucked off when we need them. They grow with practice and remediation.
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Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
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