Handwriting Games that go BAM!

Adding a game format to handwriting practice increases student motivation.

By Kathryn Mason, OTR/L

On the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

Bam! Is a fun and challenging handwriting game that can be made with popsicle sticks and a jar!
Bam! for handwriting!

As a school-based occupational therapist, I understand that

most of us work in multiple schools and need to haul activities with us from building to building to meet the individual needs of many students. It is important to have activities that take up little space, are easily graded to address varied skill levels, and progress with the students. Limited school budgets heighten the need to find inexpensive activities that fit these requirements. It is also important to find strategies that will keep our students motivated toward participation in therapy and engaged in tasks designed to meet their academic goals. Handwriting mastery continues to be a goal for many of our students; and for this reason and those I’ve mentioned above, I’ve created a number of game adaptations designed to reinforce letter recognition, formation, and proper positioning.

Students became bored fairly quickly with the other activities, such as worksheets, that I had used previously to teach these components of correct printing. By adding a game format, students became much more motivated to work on the requested tasks. I started using them about 3 years ago and gradually discovered other benefits and ways to adapt the use of the games.

I began letting students pick the board and playing pieces they used and discovered that they felt more in control of the therapy session. I always let the students go first and I’ve designed the individual game die so that they were likely to win about 5 out of 6 games. This kept the students feeling successful and more motivated to work on the expected tasks. I was able to gradually grade the expectations required to move the playing piece and never experienced resistance from the students. I have used these games with students from the first to fourth grades, with diagnoses of learning disabilities, neurological conditions, Autism, and ADHD. I’d like to share two game adaptations with you now that I’ve created and that have helped my students build their handwriting development skills.

Bam!Takes On Handwriting Skills!

The first game adaptation I’ve developed is a variation of Bam! The game called “Bam!” is one in which the players are offered opportunities to learn new information through different learning strategies. The game is easily adaptable for any subject or skill. For example, the students can learn by answering science questions; solving math problems; identifying incorrectly spelled words; or, in our case, working on handwriting skills.

Many teachers use the Bam! game to teach sight words, but I could not find a version that addressed printing components. So, I decided to create one of my own! I wanted a sequence of activities that was easily gradable and could be played by students of varying skill levels, with the therapist or with the parent as a home program activity. By adapting the Bam! game for our needs, the strategy could be graded to allow for

verbally identifying upper vs. lower case letters,

verbally identifying lower case letter positions,

copying letters from a model, or

printing the letters using visual memory.

Data collection is conducted simply by counting the sticks showing letters with incorrect answers. The game can also be graded by starting with just “tall” and “small” letters, later adding in “tail” letters. Bam! sticks can also be used without actually playing the game. For instance, they can be placed in a row to form an upper case or lower case alphabet or to sort lower case letters into the three size and/or position groups.

The simple and inexpensive DIY materials needed to create the game can be found at home or at a dollar store and are listed on the downloadable game instructions you’ll find by clicking on the picture below.

Bam! For Handwriting Game Instructions

Generic Game Board Handwriting Games

Another game format I’ve developed is like that of a typical game board. Many homemade game boards are available on Pinterest by searching for “learning board games.” Many offer free printable board games designed to provide a wide variety of learning opportunities. I decided to try my hand at it and came up with several different styles that allowed the students to participate in the selection of the board. The structure is the same on all of the boards, with each consisting of 30 – 1.25” squares, allowing for play that includes the entire alphabet, start and win squares, and 2 “go for one more” squares. Each board progresses to the right, up one, back to the left, and up one until the winner moves to the right across the top row to the “Win” space. The directions provided in the downloadable handout below are given for the vehicle game board; however, the pictures in the slideshow present my other variations. I’ve used a variety of themes to appeal to my students’ interests, as well as different levels of advancement rules to address their individual needs.

Generic Board Games Downloadable Directions

A Game Board Slide Show!

Stickers are used to “theme” the boards for those interested in cars, sports, or current movies. On a more traditional style of board, students are asked to answer questions about letters (“Is this a ‘tall’ or ‘small’ letter?”) or print a requested letter in order to advance to the next space. Here’s a video of one of my students doing just that!

Game boards that are aimed at handwriting mastery can be designed easily and inexpensively.
Click on the board to watch a student playing a handwriting game!

The biggest challenge I was faced with as I created these games was how to compensate for the OT always having the right answer on his or her turn! My answer to that was to create special dice for the staff to use during their turn. I’ve included pictures of the dice and have explained their uses on the downloadable instruction sheet above.

Handwriting board games can include special dice that add to the fun and challenge of the game.

Including dice in the game offers additional advantages.

First, students almost always want to roll the die for the OT staff and this helps to develop the arches of the hand.

A second advantage is the opportunity for the students to practice regulating their movements. I’ve created a rule that has them lose the privilege of rolling the die if it rolls off the table. In some cases where the students needs extra assistance in this area, I will place a small box lid on the table to corral the thrown die.

Having the student throw the die for the therapist’s turn offers an additional advantage in that the child needs to put down the pencil and pick it up repeatedly, up to 26 times, depending on the board. This provides great practice on correct pencil grasp, with or without the use of a rubber adapted grip, and the student never notices this practice!

Also, I’ve selected various types of beads and other small items for the students to select as markers that are small enough to require pinch or tripod grasp. The downloadable directions offer additional modifications to help you grade the activity for your students.

Board game pieces can be found at home or a discount store.
Generic Board Game Pieces should be of a size that will facilitate refined grasp patterns and can be created from items found at home or markers rescued from other games.

And the students love them!

Students will often request that I bring a particular game board for the next session, showing that they are motivated to work on these activities. The games are great strategies to suggest to families for at-home play and practice rather than suggesting somewhat more “official homework.” It is nice to see the children laughing during sessions. They enjoy competing against the therapist or other students in group sessions. If the children in the group are at different levels, for example in different grades or are working on different skills, the challenge can be modified for each one as long as the modification is explained to them. It seems to me that games are a win-win for everyone!

A Success Story!

Comparison of the top handwriting sample with that of the bottom demonstrates the benefits of using an adapted game board.

A very verbal first grade student with Autism transferred into our school. It was difficult to determine his true functional level because he appeared to demonstrate a lack of motivation towards classroom activities that were presented to him. Questions were raised as to whether it was motivation or skill level. I decided to use a game board strategy to help me tease out the answer. The top sample of his handwriting (above) was completed in the morning in his classroom. The bottom sample (a section of the completed alphabet) was completed the same day in an occupational therapy session using adapted paper and an adapted game board designed to increase motivation with a handwriting activity. Impressive, wouldn’t you say?

Kathryn Mason, OTR/L, is a graduate of Tufts University 1977, BSOT. She was previously the Director of the OTA Program at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Richmond, Virginia. Currently she is working in the Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia. She can be reached at Kathywmason@yahoo.com

All photos are the property of the author and cannot be used without her permission.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

Pencil Grasp Repair: Strategies 101

Pencil Grasp Repair:  Strategies 101

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

Research results indicate that “the number of children who experience handwriting difficulties can be upwards of 27% in the primary grades (Volman, van Schendel, & Jongmans, 2006, as cited in Collmer, 2016, xiii).  Experts have identified a current trend that may result in handwriting difficulties and an inefficient pencil grasp:  presenting toddlers and preschool children with pencils and pencil activities before their motor muscles are ready for this complex fine motor task. (Collmer, 2016, p. 28)   Proper development of the muscles of the hand, both intrinsic and extrinsic, assist the writer in maintaining his grasp without pain or fatigue, with grip strength correlating with handwriting legibility in typically developing children. (Collmer, 2016, p. 29)  As occupational therapists, we play a key role in alerting educational staff about the hazards of pushing children into forming inefficient handwriting habits.  However, what do we do when we are presented with a student who has been struggling with his handwriting skills for quite some time; and who now, at the age of 9, is attempting to keep up with his peers in handwritten assignments?  Where do we begin?

I recently received a note from a seasoned occupational therapist who was striving to provide the best services to her young client.  She wrote:

“I have recently begun working with a student who is 9 years 4 months old. He is quite inefficient in the classroom due to the speed at which he completes his classwork.  This is concerning to the team as he approaches 4th grade.  His OT Evaluation revealed that he continues to use a static tripod grasp for all of the handwriting tasks.  I am curious about your experience with the static to dynamic transition for handwriting.  I am wondering if you have any thoughts on why some children do not transition to a dynamic grasp.  My assumption in this scenario is the lack of transition is related to poor postural control. For some reason, this one is just throwing me off a bit more than others to see an nearly nine and a half year old doing writing assignments from his shoulder.”

I did agree with this therapist that a common reason for a static tripod grasp is poor postural support.  Taking that assumption a step further, inefficient posture can also be an adaptation for the underlying reasons for his inefficient pencil grasp.  Poor shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and finger muscles may cause the writer to grip the pencil tightly, brace his arm and elbow against his body, and produce movements from the shoulder instead of fluidly moving his hand and arm across the page.  I was excited about helping this therapist and her young man and I dove right in with a suggestion or two.  Since I had not seen this student’s grasp, I provided a strategy that I felt would help in most cases, discussing it as a step-by-step process from which I’d typically work.  Of course, we’d work on more than one strategy in the list at a time, with those presented close together complementing each other.  Both she and I thought it would be a nice idea to share it with you, too!

Step-by-Step:  Proximal to Distal

At this age, I turn to a very basic assessment that looks at shoulder, arm, wrist, and finger strength.  If it is determined that the grasping problems result from strength issues, then I begin there.  Experience has shown me that most times it will be!  At the start, I tend to do very little handwriting practice or paying much attention to changing the child’s grip during handwriting tasks, as most likely that is like trying to get blood from a stone.  Often, there’s been lots of practice and there’s been tons of hours spent on tips and tricks to change his grasping pattern with little success.  The frustration meter at this point has been pegged out for everyone concerned.  I’ve found the most success comes from working strictly with strengthening activities designed to address the child’s particular areas of concern.

  1.  I’d begin by concentrating on palmar arches and separation of the two sides of the hand.  There are plenty of exercises and activities that concentrate on these skills and can be adapted to his developmental level, helping him to open his web space and attain flexibility in his fine motor movements.  It’s important to be sure that he can perform thumb opposition efficiently, as well.  If not, include activities for that in this step.  This sets the stage for the following strategies.
  1.  At the same time, I would work on shoulder stability with upper body exercises or yoga activities.  Select activities that allow you to monitor progress with repetitions or quality of production, such as the plank, wall pushups, and indoor volleyball between you and him.  Work on drawing, sketching a map, or visual perceptual copying tasks on a vertical surface (such as a wall or window or chalk board – no dry erase please!), working with his wrist extended to 20 degrees and about 10 degrees of ulnar deviation. You won’t have to be as vigilant on correcting his positioning if he is working on these types of vertical surfaces since they will most often position his wrist and arm correctly by default!

Working on wrist extension on a vertical surface before tackling the thumb positioning. One step at a time!

Designs with Wikki Stix on a vertical surface to promote optimal wrist extension.

  1.  When he begins to experience some progress with No. 1 above, I’d include some bilateral fine motor activities such as molding clay or those that include cutting or putting things together.  This will begin to include his wrist and fingers of his dominant hand with help from his non-dominant.  Be sure he is resting his arms and hands on the table at first.  If he is performing everything “in the air,” chances are he’s using his shoulders to brace himself and he is less likely to move his hands and arms fluidly across the table (even in small bits) during the task, which is the goal in handwriting tasks.  Be sure that during these tasks, you are reminding him of the postural “must do’s” that you have been working on so far – back slightly bent toward the table so that he can see his work, elbows on the table, knees in front, feet flat on the floor.  I have to confess, I’m not as strict with every part of this as I used to be.  If the posture is working for the task and the child is not experiencing discomfort due to it, then I let it go and move on to the other things I’m working on.  If the posture is hindering the task, I have the student remind me what he needs to fix.  It helps to have a sign on the wall or a note on the desk that he can refer to during the activity.
  1.  Along with this, I’d begin to include core exercises in his routine (No. 2) above.  Alternating toe touches, modified sit ups, or yoga poses such as rocking the boat are great ways to add abdominal muscle work that is quantifiable and allows the student to monitor his progress.  (There are quite a few examples of exercises in the downloads included with my book.)

My favorite set of yoga exercises!

  1.  After some more progress is achieved with 1 and 3 above, which will be demonstrated by less dependence on his shoulder for movement and increased flexibility in his arm and wrist,  I’d add fine motor exercises – not tasks or activities. Strictly the same types of exercises that we would do with adults in a rehabilitation setting.  (I’ve included a handout for putty exercises in my downloads for my book.) They are simple to demonstrate and easy for him and his parents to follow at home….and they work.  I am leaving this until he has some upper body improvement because, as you know, development is proximal to distal.  Once we can get him to stabilize his shoulder and begin to move his arm in tandem with his hand, then he can begin to include fine motor movements to tie it all together.  The exercises are static, however, and do not involve much arm movement.  I try to mix the exercises in with some of the other activities above to add movement.  For instance, I might have the student perform one upper body exercise and then move over to the table for a fine motor, sequencing like that until both sets of exercises are completed.  Or I like to have them play a dice game where each number is attached to an upper body or fine motor exercise.  The student checks off which ones he’s completed and we roll the dice until they’ve all been done.  This way, the arm is working as well as the fingers.  It works to enhance flexibility.  You can also have the student perform the exercises standing up when his fine motor skills begin to get stronger.  This allows him to move his arms without support.  But be sure he’s not using his shoulder to stabilize too much!
  1.  When the above strategies are moving close to his final goals for those skills, I’d move on to adding about 5-10 minutes at the end of the session to work on activities that include handwriting – slowly at first.  I begin with a reminder of the appropriate ways that the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers work together toward efficient handwriting skills.  Handwriting program workbooks often have great visuals to remind students of the placement of these parts.  (I know Universal Publishing’s books have great ones.)  I keep a checklist on the desk where the student can self monitor his positioning.  We work with tasks such as copying spelling or vocabulary words from the board in therapy to take home for study.  Even if this is a repeat of what he’s done in class, the task completion is being monitored by you and the student can actively practice his self monitoring techniques for use at home or in the classroom.  I like to have them write down directions to their home or the park or movie theater, make a list of items that they will need for their next camping trip or for what they want for lunch, or draw a picture and write a short, short description of what is happening in it.  It depends on what the child likes to do for fun.

Be sure to continue to include upper body exercises in his program to keep the muscles toned and ready for fine-motor work.  Most children love to continue with the putty exercises, too.  And that’s good because the fingers continue to need work at this point.  If he tires of them, there are others on line that he can try that use other materials or exercise tools.  It’s up to you and him.

  1.  Finally, when all of this is working, I shift from exercises to activities that concentrate on handwriting mastery.  We remain on vertical surfaces at first, moving to the table bit-by-bit as the student demonstrates transference of the skills he developed in the exercises and small tasks to specific handwriting activities.  If the quality of my student’s letter formation and alignment are good, then I’d work on speed and accuracy.  (Otherwise, I’d begin with those basics.)  I have some speed and accuracy activities in my downloads for my book; but I put a really effective one on my blog that’s not in there.  Here’s the link:

Minute Mania: Turning Handwriting into a Functional Tool by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

I would work very slowly with students such as this guy.  I know sometimes that frustrates teachers and parents who want to see results right away for grading purposes.  However, slow but sure wins the race!  Posture is a problem for them.  But most of the time, their posture is poor because they are using their shoulder to stabilize their arm; and their wrists, hands, and fingers are too weak to form and maintain an appropriate grasp.  It is important to remember, too, that a functional grasp is not necessarily a pretty one.  If the grasp isn’t the traditional dynamic tripod grasp but his fingers aren’t white with pressure and he isn’t complaining about pain or fatigue in the hand, then it just might be an appropriate grasp.  In this case, to address speed and accuracy I would assess his shoulder and back muscles to determine their need for strengthening.  Just for fun, I’ve included a blog I wrote on functional grasping patterns.  If you have purchased my book, you may recognize parts of it, as some of the information is included in there:

Should we worry about pencil grip? by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

I am pretty consistent in the method of my delivery, moving from gross motor, to vision skills, to fine motor, then function in my sessions, as I’m sure you all do.  I didn’t include any vision in the above, but these skills could easily be addressed in both types of exercises.

I really enjoyed working with this therapist and am looking forward to hearing her feedback about her student’s progress toward handwriting mastery!

As always, thank you so much for reading and sharing my work!

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

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.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

Reference:

  1. Collmer, K.  Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists.  2016 ed. Waymart, PA:  Universal Publishing, 2016. Print.

Pictures are the property of the author and must provide a link back to this article or her website.  Those that provide a link to the originating source should include that link when they are shared.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

Technology by MacGyver Revisited

office FirmBee Pixabay

Technology comes in various packages, from the most expensive to the budget friendly.  It has become a staple in our lives, as well as an effective means for adapting school requirements to meet a student’s needs.  Rebecca Klockars, an occupational therapist and RESNA certified assistive technology professional, shares adaptive strategies that will not make a big dent on your therapy budget.  Click on the picture below to learn more!

Low Tech Assistive Technology: MacGyver Inspired by Rebecca Klockars, OT, OT Mommy

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  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.
Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
Pictures are the property of the sites they are linked to and their use must provide a link back to the owner.

Handwriting and the non-dominant hand

hand sketch AlexandruPetre Pixabay

Handwriting and the non-dominant hand

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

Frank R. Wilson, in his renowned discussion of the evolution of the hand, poses the suggestion that bimanual tasks result in the development of a visual vocabulary.  He defines a “visual vocabulary” as one that is established as a result of a mysterious, nonverbal language.  This language can be witnessed in the arts, from jewelry making to writing, as each creator uses “internalized rules for combining materials and structural elements” to produce unique patterns of work.   These works of art take on a meaning for both the designer and viewer and become the personal stamp of the creator. (1)  In this sense, handwriting can be defined as a nonverbal language that results from the production of lines and shapes that are placed within spatial constraints according to predetermined directional and alignment rules.  They become words and sentences that take on a meaning that the writer conjures up in our minds to share thoughts, feelings, information, and knowledge.  Although Wilson describes handwriting as a task commonly considered to be a unilateral hand skill, (1) one that is considered by researchers to require only the “specific coordination between the finger and wrist movements” of one hand, (2) it appears that handwriting under the label of a visual vocabulary would then be considered a bimanual task.

The production of a visual vocabulary, in the arts and handwriting, depends on the ability of the hands to form a complementary partnership in their role as a vehicle for expression.  This partnership consists of a dominant and non-dominant hand that become one unit in the completion of bimanual tasks. Brain lateralization and the intercommunication between the two sides of the brain have been considered the foundational requisites that facilitate the establishment of a dominant hand and determine handedness in humans. However, the establishment of hand dominance remains a confusing and baffling human trait that scientists admit there is little known about its history or neurologic foundations.  The study of the evolution of handedness has taken anthropologists back to an examination of how the hands were used by our Stone Age predecessors to wield stones as hammers to create tools for building or cooking or to design weapons intended to kill game or to act as protection against predators.  Their studies revealed that the tool users would have divided the tasks of hammering or throwing into two distinct parts, utilizing one hand to steady the object to be hammered or to balance two hands machines pashminu Pixabaythe body against gravity in throwing and the other hand to perform the precise movements necessary to direct the stone toward a target with accuracy.  This division of labor has been labeled as the dominant and non-dominant hand movements.

Hand dominance** has been suggested to have been a “critical survival advantage” to hunters and gatherers as they engaged precision tasks within their competitive environments.  (1)  Given that precision tasks demand practice for mastery, their consistent use of one hand to perform and perfect an accurate aim-and-throw movement may have organized the brain-hand pathways and established a hand dominance.  Again, the baffling question remains:   Why did these early humans select the right versus the left hand for precision tasks?  While scientists have yet to uncover the answer to this conundrum, they have turned with equal wonder at the mystery of the perceived underdevelopment of the non-dominant hand.  Some ask the question, “Did it stagnate?  Was it ‘dumbed down’ somehow, in order to guarantee the emergence of a manual performance asymmetry?”  Or was the non-dominant upper limb intended to become specialized in a different way?  (1)   This latter view of the non-dominant hand suggests that the two hands are complementary, forming a whole that is dependent on the accurate production of the specified movements of both sides.  This is an enlightening perspective on the role of the non-dominant hand, for sure.

Dominant and non-dominant hands were once referred to as the “good” and “bad” hands, with the non-dominant hand being labeled as the “somewhat disabled one.” (1) The right hand was viewed as the “good” hand despite the occurrence of left-handedness in some children.  Left-handedness, in fact, was considered to be a deficit and children were strongly encouraged, sometimes forced, to ignore their tendency to use their left hand and to switch Left-Hand-vs-Right-Handinstead to their right hand for writing and drawing.  The argument and prejudice against left-handedness was promoted by the confusing fact that an overwhelming number of people were right-hand dominant.  In the end, regardless which hand became dominant, the non-dominant hand was believed to be an unequal force in the production of bimanual tasks.  It was considered to be inferior to the more precise hand.  As researchers began to investigate more closely the interaction of the hands in bimanual skills, they questioned this idea and considered instead the likelihood that they were interdependent.  Bimanual tasks, by definition, involve the use of both hands.  While some bimanual tasks can be accomplished with the use of one hand (as evidenced by the rehabilitation efforts of persons who have suffered from a stroke), most often the speed, fluidity, and accuracy of their production are compromised by the lack of a supporting hand.  In general, then, bimanual tasks demand the use of both hands for efficiency, as is seen in activities such as playing a musical instrument, golfing, tying our shoes, cutting our food, and handwriting.

Wilson describes handwriting as a task commonly considered to be unilateral hand skill, (1) one that is considered by researchers to require only the “specific coordination between the finger and wrist movements.” (2)  However, in light of the research that considers the two hands as partners in a task, an analysis of the the non-dominant hand in handwriting has revealed it to play “a complementary, though largely covert, role by continuously repositioning the paper in anticipation of pen movements.”  (3, qtd in 1)  In 1987, French psychologist Yves Guiard studied the complementary hand movements in handwriting relative to the idea that the physical characteristics of the movements of each hand,  as well as the sensory control mechanisms that supported those movements, were significantly different.  He proposed that their scaled movements were spatially and temporally divided into two categories.  In Guiard’s theory, the scale of the dominant hand’s movements is considered to be “micrometric,” or produced within a smaller space with slower speeds relative to the supporting hand.  Its performance is rehearsed and mostly internally driven or pre-programmed, directed by the development of motor patterns and the automatic reproduction of those patterns.  (1)   In contrast the movements of the non-

Photo: Property of Handwriting With Katherine
Photo: Property of Handwriting With Katherine

dominant hand in its role as the paper positioner are “macrometric.”   They are conducted to facilitate improvised adjustments using faster speeds within a larger context.  They are externally driven, being directed by the writing hand to set the spatial boundaries within which it can perform its skilled movements.  In effect, the non-dominant hand is supporting the precise movements of the dominant one by providing a stabilizing environment that allows for frequent alterations that are responsive to the movements of the skilled hand.  This perspective of the non-dominant hand elevates its significance in the production of handwritten work.  The actions of the supporting hand require controlled motor movements that can transition within a diverse range of “improvised hold and move sequences” that do not follow strict rules for patterns or rhythm.  These movements require sensory control mechanisms that can detect, analyze, and integrate visual perceptual information, such as spatial boundaries or paper angles, relative to the movements of the dominant hand.  The supporting role of the non-dominant hand demands flexibility to “conform its movements both to the behavior of an external object and to the actions of the other hand, to ensure that the object and the handheld tool will intercept at the intended time and place.”  (1)  Guiard discovered that these alterations are anticipated and initiated before the movements of the skilled hand take place, leading to his proposition that “there is a logical division of labor between the two hands that appears to govern the entire range of human bimanual activities.”  (1)

The precise, rehearsed, and preprogrammed facets of handwriting rely on the supportive role of the less-precise hand to guide the dominant one in producing the “collection of identical hash marks” (1) that create an individual penmanship style and comprise the visual vocabulary that delivers each writer’s personal message.  The supporting role of the non-dominant hand places handwriting among our most creative bimanual tasks.  In this light, an assessment of handwriting development skills would warrant an evaluation of the behaviors demonstrated by the supporting hand and rehabilitative efforts designed to develop it to its highest skill level.

**For more information about the developmental stages of hand dominance and the it plays in handwriting mastery, please read my article, “Hand Dominance – a key factor in handwriting success,” and my book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists,” which can be purchased on my website.

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and author of the book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.  
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
Photos are the property of online sites or the photographers at Pixabay.    Their use should include the link provided with the pictures.  All other photographs are property of the author and are not to be used without her written permission.
(1) Wilson, Frank R. The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. New York: Pantheon, 1998. Print.
(2) H. Reinders-Messelink, M. Schoemaker, and L. Goeken, Kamps, W. “Handwriting and Fine Motor Problems After Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.” Handwriting and Drawing Research: Basic and Applied Issues. Amsterdam: IOS, 1996. 215-25. Print.
(3) Guiard, Yves. “Asymmetric Division of Labor in Human Skilled Bimanual Action.” Journal of Motor Behavior 19.4 (1987): 486-517. Web.

Hand Dominance – a key factor in handwriting success

Hand Dominance – a key factor in handwriting success

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

hand dominance iwanna pixabayHand dominance is a key factor in handwriting mastery.  Handwriting is a complex functional task that demands the hand to work efficiently with a tool.  This is accomplished through the hand’s intricate link with the brain.  Handwriting is considered to be the highest form of unilateral hand dexterity skill attained by the general population.  (1)   The establishment of hand dominance provides the child with a skilled hand for efficient pencil control to facilitate the learning of letter formations and line alignment as well as a stabilizing hand to monitor paper placement.

What is hand dominance or handedness?

Hand dominance is the term used to describe the hand a child is observed using spontaneously during skilled activities such as brushing his teeth, using scissors, or handwriting tasks.  It is the hand a child naturally prefers to use because it performs skilled tasks more efficiently, leaving the other hand to act as a stabilizer.  For example, a child who is right-hand dominant, or right-handed, will use his right hand to manipulate the scissors and his left hand to stabilize the paper during a cutting task.  The development of hand preference is a sign that the brain is maturating and that brain lateralization is occurring. Initial development of a preferred hand occurs from about the age of 4 months to the age of three to four, shifting from a reach that is convenient (such as using the right hand to pick up objects on the right side) to one that crosses the body’s midline.  Hand preference for the completion of unilateral tasks becomes more evident during this time with further bilateral differentiation occurring between 5 and 7 years.  Although children may continue to switch preferred hands at this stage for use with different fine-motor skilled activities, a fully established hand dominance presents itself between the ages of 6 and 9.

What are the behaviors associated with an Unestablished Hand Dominance?

Hand dominance is a foundational skill that promotes using the hands together efficiently during activities that involve more complex motor plans, motor accuracy, and greater skill.  These tasks include tying shoes, buttoning a coat, playing with interconnecting blocks, or handwriting.  Crossing

Little Boy Lacing his Shoes --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

the midline and bilateral coordination are contributing foundational skills for the establishment of hand dominance and equally important in the performance of skilled tasks.  Difficulties in either of these skills can result in unilateral hand preference (using the right hand for performance on the right side and vice versa), difficulty with symmetrical bilateral hand skills such as catching a ball or holding an object with two hands, or competing dominance where the child switches hands during a fine-motor task.  It is also important to note that if a child who demonstrates a clear preference for one hand is observed switching between his dominant and non-dominant hand during skilled activities, muscle fatigue could be the underlying cause rather than difficulty with any of the above skills.

How can you determine the Establishment of Hand Dominance?

There are several ways to determine a child’s preferred hand and to determine the establishment of hand dominance.

Boy Playing with Building Blocks

  1. Observe the child participating in skilled fine-motor tasks such as brushing his teeth, buttoning his coat, drawing, playing with construction toys, or cutting paper.  Record the number of times that he uses a specific hand as the dominant one within each task, switches hands within the task, or uses only the hand located closest to the object when reaching for it (e.g., using the left hand solely to reach for items on the left side).
  1. Place items at the child’s midline on a table during a fine-motor play or functional activity.  Observe the use of a dominant hand or the switching of hands during the activity.
  1. Place items for use in activities such as puzzles, tangrams, or construction tasks in random positions on the table on the child’s left and right sides as well as in midline. Observe his use of a dominant hand, his switching hands, or the use of a unilateral reach as he completes the activity.

Activities that Promote the Development and Establishment of Hand Dominance.

After collecting observational data that reflects the child’s level of hand dominance, determine the hand that he appears to prefer.  Direct him to use that hand in activities that will reinforce it as the dominant hand.   If the child does not yet appear to have a preferred hand, begin with the foundational activities below to encourage the development of a dominant hand.  Progress to the activities that follow to enhance the underlying skills that promote the development and establishment of hand dominance.

Foundational Activities:

  1. Place objects for a task at the child’s midline. This provides him with the opportunity to select which hand to use and enhances the development of a dominant hand by lessening the chances to use the unilateral hand to avoid having to cross midline.
  1. Use auditory cues to direct the child’s reach across his body during play and functional tasks.  Positions items included in the activity randomly on the table on both sides of his midline.  Ask him to reach for them using the opposite hand.  For example, to direct him to reach across his midline to an object on his left, you might say, “Joey, please pick up the yellow marker with your right hand.”  This activity also promotes the development of crossing the midline and bilateral coordination skills as well as the understanding of directional concepts.
  1. Use auditory and visual cues to establish labels for his skilled and stabilizing hands. This helps him to understand how he uses his hands for fine-motor activities and supports their use as skilled or stabilizing hands.  For example, if the child has been observed to use his left hand predominantly during skilled tasks, you might verbally label his left as the “worker hand” and his right as the “helper hand.”  Demonstrate these labels as you and he complete tasks such as cutting, lacing, or construction play.  You may add a sticker to his worker hand to remind him of its role in the activity.
  1. Use auditory cues as reminders to continue to stay with one hand for the duration of a skilled activity.

Enhancement Activities:

Gross motor games.  Position balls or bean bags on the side of a child’s preferred hand and have him toss them at a target placed at his midline or on the opposite side of his body.  This activity promotes the development of hand dominance, as well as balance, bilateral coordination, visual attention, and crossing the midline skills.  Games of throw and catch (for example, baseball or bowling) and basketball (dribbling and throwing) also promote these skills.

Girl (6-8) Painting an Egg --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Fine motor activities.  The activities below promote the use of a dominant hand as well as the development of visual attention, crossing the midline, and bilateral coordination skills.

    • Drawing circles or lazy 8’s simultaneously on the left and right sides of a paper taped to the wall or on a chalkboard using a pencil or chalk in the hand on each side
    • Clapping games or games that tap knees and ankles on the opposite sides of the body
    • Tracing the non-dominant hand with the dominant
    • Drawing or coloring with the preferred hand.  The performance of this activity on a vertical surface will further enhance balance and visual attention.
    • Stacking blocks with the preferred hand
    • Activities that include stencils, rulers, or rubbing motions over textures using the dominant hand with the pencil or crayon and the other hand to stabilize the stencil, ruler, or paper.
    • Molding clay or putty using the dominant hand to pull and mold while the other stabilizes the clay or putty
    • Beading, lacing, and interlocking toys using the dominant hand to thread or position the interlocking toy while the other hand stabilizes the string, board, or opposite toy part.
    • Cutting and pasting using the dominant hand to perform the task and the other to stabilize the paper.
    • Construction activities with blocks, hammers, or screwdrivers using the dominant hand to perform and the other to stabilize during the task.
  • Opening containers using the preferred hand to turn or pull open the lid while the other hand stabilizes the container.

Academic activities.

  • Whole body writing (making large movements using the dominant hand) promotes the use of the dominant hand as well as the enhancement of motor movement planning skills.
  • Activities that include non-traditional materials such as finger paints, shaving cream, sand trays, or writing with water on the chalkboard or a piece of paper taped to the wall provide increased tactile input to promote the use of the dominant hand as well as the enhancement of motor movement skills.
  • Create letter formations by shaping them out of pipe cleaners or other tactile tools to promote the use of the dominant hand.
  • Writing or practicing letter formations with a pencil on a piece of paper over fine-grade sandpaper using the dominant hand for tool use and the non-dominant to stabilize the paper provides additional tactile input to promote the use of the dominant hand.
  • Tracing letter formations on a vertical surface using the dominant hand while the other hand positions and supports the paper also enhances visual attention skills.

Children who have not established a dominant hand may also be working with inefficient body image and spatial awareness skills.  It is important to observe the child in a diverse array of activities and provide a variety of opportunities to engage in bilateral tasks in order to determine the underlying  developmental skill needs.

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

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.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

Photos are the property of the  photographers at Pixabay or Royalty-Free/Corbis where indicated.    Their use should include the link or copyright provided with the pictures.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

References:

  1. Yancosek, Kathleen E., and David R. Mullineaux. “Stability of Handwriting Performance following Injury-induced Hand-dominance Transfer in Adults: A Pilot Study.” The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development JRRD 48.1 (2011): 59. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
  2. “Texas Child Care: Back Issues.” Texas Child Care: Back Issues. Texas Child Care Quarterly, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015. <http://www.childcarequarterly.com/spring07_story3.html>.
  3. “Occupational Therapy for Children.” Occupational Therapy for Children. Occupational Therapy for Children, 08 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015. <http://www.occupationaltherapychildren.com.au/blog/dominance-hand-dominance/>.

Handwriting and Learning: A Vital Link to Skilled Writing

The month of August brings thoughts of the new school year and a fresh look at how children learn and grow.  With that focus in mind, the Handwriting is Fun! blog is proud to bring you a series of posts that will share insights from Occupational Therapists that reflect their views on and visions for our students’ learning experiences.  The second article in our series will explore the vital role that the process of learning to write by hand plays in our students’ ability to adequately present their knowledge and thoughts.  I look forward to your comments and feedback – in handwritten form, if possible!

 

Handwriting and Learning:  A Vital Link to Skilled Writing

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

 

Wrist & Hand anatomy clinic hq
Picture courtesy of Clinic.hq.co.uk

Frank R. Wilson writes in his book, The Hand:  how its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture,

 

“Where would we be without our hands?  Our lives are so full of commonplace experience in which the hands are so skillfully and silently involved that we rarely consider how dependent upon them we actually are.”

 

 

He goes on to say that “any theory of human intelligence which ignores the interdependence of hand and brain function, the historic origins of that relationship, or the impact of that history on developmental dynamics in modern humans, is grossly misleading and sterile.”  Studies have shown that the hand plays a major role in learning.  And research is uncovering the impact that it has on the process of reading and writing.  The hand, as it is utilized in the mastery of handwriting, is involved in the development of motor memory for letter recognition.  And letter recognition has been found to be the most reliable predictor of future reading success.

 

writing upsplash pixabayHandwriting, by definition, is writing done by the hand, in some cases that which characterizes a particular person.  The hand has been described as giving “the upper limb its importance and originality.” (1)  It is a complex unit comprised of intricate muscle, joint, and ligament components that create movements so flexible and dexterous they allow us to manipulate a grain of sand.  The inside of the hand is innervated with neurons that relay signals to the brain relative to contact with objects, while proprioceptive information relative to finger and thumb positioning is transmitted through the joints, muscles, and ligaments.  The tactile sensitivity of the fingertips (2) detects spatial differences allowing for receptive touch such as that used to read Braille characters.  The hand extends from the body to engage, react, and defend.  And, it is continuously working together with the other senses to enhance learning.

 

From birth, infants discover the world through their senses.  They move their head toward a sound.  Their vision guides their eyes toward movement or light.  They maintain life through their sense of taste.  As they grow, they begin to explore the world with the addition of their vestibular and proprioceptive systems – rolling over and pulling up to become active players in the world in which they live.  And from the moment that they discover their hands, they begin to stretch and reach to learn more about the objects around them.  From this time on, their hands provide the medium for manipulation, exploration, and expression.  Learning through the use of their hands, as well as their vision, opens the door to curiosity and creativity.

 

Learning through the use of our hands continues to be a vital link for educational success throughout life, with handwriting playing a major role.  Efficient fine motor writing skills in pre-kindergarten have been found to be indicators for higher academic scores in second grade.  (3)    Recent research has uncovered its role in the process of skilled writing, an additional predictor of educational success.  Handwriting, with its tactile and  visual-motor integration skills, (4) addresses the perceptual and sensorimotor (5) combination of the complex process of writing. (6)

 

It is important at this point to make the distinction between “handwriting” and “writing” skills:

  • Handwriting it the process through which the writer uses his hand to produce letters, words, and sentences on the page in order to convey knowledge or thoughts.
  • Writing, on the other hand, is the vehicle that transforms handwriting into a means of expression.

 

Skilled writing requires the writer to utilize three cognitive processes:

(1) Planning to generate ideas and set goals,

(2) Translation to turn ideas into written text, and

(3) Revision to recreate the text for improved clarity and idea expression.

In addition, children’s translation has spirit-geralt pixabayalso been found to require text generation and transcription, which includes handwriting (letter production) and spelling (word production). (7)

 

 

 

Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in the Foreword of Writing Next:  Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High School, (8) stresses the importance of skilled written expression:

 

“…it is obvious that if today’s youngsters cannot read with understanding, think about and analyze what they’ve read, and then write clearly and effectively about what they’ve learned and what they think, then they may never be able to do justice to their talents and their potential….Indeed, young people who do not have the ability to transform thoughts, experiences, and ideas into written words are in danger of losing touch with the joy in inquiry, the sense of intellectual curiosity, and the inestimable satisfaction of acquiring wisdom that are the touchstones of humanity.”

 

In that same report, Graham and Perin site statistics that reflect Mr. Gregorian’s reason for concern.

 

  • Seventy percent of students in grades 4-12 are low-achieving writers.
  • College instructors estimate that 50% of high school graduates are not prepared for college-level writing.
  • The knowledge and skills required for higher education and employment are now considered equivalent.

 

Writing, with its requirement that the “writers formulate their own thoughts, organize them, and create a written record of them using the conventions of spelling and grammar,” (8) demands certain efficient cognitive skills.   Information about letter formations and sounds, word and sentence structures, as well as the principles of grammar, must be accurately stored in memory, available for quick retrieval, and produced automatically in order to free up the cognitive skills needed for the writing process.  Considering the evidence that handwriting affects the grading of a student’s work, (9) legibility must be considered to be an equal partner in the development of skilled writing.

 

keyboard-geralt pixabayTechnology, keyboarding in particular, has been suggested by many to be a viable, more timely substitute for handwriting.  Computers are expected to replace the need for handwritten work in the educational system due to the increased demand for keyboarding skills in the workplace.  And typewriting has been perceived to be equally as effective in the development of writing skills.   Considering the research that strongly suggests a tie between writing movements and letter memorization and the relationship of cognition with perception and motor action, (6) as well as the link between automaticy in handwriting and skilled writing skills, (10) the substitution of typewriting for handwriting warrants research.   Mangen and Velay, in their article, Digitizing literacy:  reflections on the haptics of writing,  (6) reported upon the significant differences between the motor movements involved in handwriting and typewriting.  Handwriting produces a strict and unequivocal relationship between the visual shape (of the letter) and the motor program that is used to produce the shape, with each letter associated with a given, very specific movement.  They report that typing is a “form of spatial learning” that requires the writer to transform the visual form of each character into the position of a given key, turning the movement to create thoughts into a visuomotor association linked with pointing movements and characters on the keyboard.  In that light, they felt that the less specific typewriting movements should provide little in the way of visual recognition and memorization – Memorization that is required for automaticy and skilled writing skills.

 

“Writing is an immensely important and equally complex and sophisticated human skill commonly ascribed a fundamental role in children’s cognitive and language development, and a milestone on the path to literacy.” (6)

 

Handwriting cannot be ignored as an important step on that pathway.

 

To read Week 1’s Posting in the Series, please scroll down past the references!

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
 (1) Wilson, Frank R. The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. New York: Pantheon, 1998. Print.
(2) Johansson, Roland S., and J. Randall Flanagan. “Coding and Use of Tactile Signals from the Fingertips in Object Manipulation Tasks.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience Nat Rev Neurosci 10.5 (2009): 345-59. Web. 19 July 2015. <http://130.237.111.254/ehrsson/pdfs/Johansson&Flanagan-2009.pdf>.
(3) Renaud, Jean-Paul. “Good Handwriting and Good Grades: FIU Researcher Finds New Link.” News at FIU Florida International University. Florida International University, 08 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 July 2015. <http://news.fiu.edu/2012/01/good-handwriting-and-good-grades-fiu-researcher-finds-new-link/34934?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=good-handwriting-and-good-grades-fiu-researcher-finds-new-link>.(4) Daly, C. J., G. T. Kelley, and A. Krauss. “Relationship Between Visual-Motor Integration and Handwriting Skills of Children in Kindergarten: A Modified Replication Study.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 57.4 (2003): 459-62. Web. 19 July 2015.
(4) Daly, C. J., G. T. Kelley, and A. Krauss. “Relationship Between Visual-Motor Integration and Handwriting Skills of Children in Kindergarten: A Modified Replication Study.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 57.4 (2003): 459-62. Web. 19 July 2015.
(5) The University of Stavanger. “Better learning through handwriting.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119095458.htm>.
(6) Mangen, Anne, and Jean-Luc Velay. “Digitizing Literacy: Reflections on the Haptics of Writing.” Advances in Haptics (2010): 385-401. Web. 26 June 2015.
(7) Berninger, Virginia W., Robert D. Abbott, Amy Augsburger, and Noelia Garcia. “Comparison of Pen and Keyboard Transcription Modes in Children With and Without Learning Disabilities.” Learning Disability Quarterly 32.Summer 2009 (2009): 123-41. Sage Journals. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://ldq.sagepub.com/content/32/3/123.abstract>.
(8) Graham, Steve, and Dolores Perin. Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High School. Alliance for Excellent Education. Alliance for Excellent Education, Sept. 2006. Web. 24 June 2015. <http://all4ed.org>.
(9) Gentry, J. Richard, Ph.D., and Steve Graham, Ed.D. “Creating Better Readers and Writers: The Importance of Direct, Systematic Spelling and Handwriting Instruction in Improving Academic Performance.” Saperstein Associates. Saperstein Associates, n.d. Web. 07 July 2015. <http://www.sapersteinassociates.com/>.
(10) Graham, Steve. “Want to Improve Children’s Writing? Don’t Neglect Their Handwriting.” American Educator Winter.2009-2010 (n.d.): 20-25. Web. 26 June 2015.
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page, or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

Week 1 in the Series:

Learning and Retaining through Technology, by Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog
Learning and Retaining through Technology, by Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

 

 

IS Summer Handwriting Fun?

Welcome back to our Summer Handwriting Fun series!  This week we are sharing some very creative ideas that will spark your children’s interest in building handwriting development skills!  Our guest blogger is Stacy Turke, OTR/L, an Occupational Therapist from Michigan!  I think you will find her suggestions helpful and easy to do.  If you think so, too, drop her a note and let her know how much you’ve appreciated them.  Okay, Stacy, you’re on!

 

 

Summer Handwriting Homework

Summer Handwriting Practice

Summer Handwriting Fun!

 

sad student clikerfreevectorimages pixabayFor many kids, this statement is an oxymoron:  how can ANYTHING related to Handwriting be fun?  Good handwriting takes practice, lots and lots of it, and practice of almost any kind is boring.  Plus, kids want to be outside playing in the summer, or inside creating, and just generally having fun with their families and friends.  So a Summer Handwriting Program is a waste of time, right?

 

Not if it’s done well!

 

For kids with handwriting challenges, the writing itself is rarely the whole picture.  Handwriting is a very complex process, combining

  • motor planning,
  • postural control,
  • muscle strength and endurance,
  • joint stability,
  • bilateral coordination/control,
  • attention and focus,
  • visual processing,
  • fine motor skills,
  • eye hand coordination,  PLUS
  • visual and auditory memory

…and all that comes before the child begins to put pencil to paper to write down the language in their mind’s eye.  Practice the skills in these areas, and you’ll help your child maintain and strengthen their ability to write while having fun, without the feel of homework or practice. Who wouldn’t want that?!

 

So what EXACTLY do you do to practice?

There is no concrete, universal “Practice THIS List” because every child’s needs are unique and individual.   So instead of a “prescription,” consider these general areas and suggested activities to create a strong foundation for handwriting, and then get creative!

 

For tons of ideas, visit these Internet spots for ideas:

  • Blogs, such as Handwriting with Katherine (you’re there now!).  Also Google “handwriting,” or any of the skills listed above for more blogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pinterest:  Search for “fine-motor skills, handwriting, eye-hand coordination, muscle strengthening for children” – or any of the skills listed above for many “boards” where people have collected activities.  These will also lead you to new sites to explore!   ——–|

 

 

  • Facebook:  In the “Search” block at the top,

——–>

type in “key words” such as, “children, occupational therapy, or education.”  If you have a favorite Facebook page that discusses children’s activities, click on its “Likes” section and browse through the sites there.

 

 

  • Twitter:  In the top right-hand block, search  for hastags (#) such as “#pediOT,  #occupationaltherapy,  and  #handwriting”  —————————————–|
Again, if you have favorite Tweeters that you enjoy, take a look at their profiles and click on their “Follows” and “Followers” ———-> for more suggestions.

 

 

You will find more activities that you have summer-time for!

 

So how EXACTLY do you get creative?

Consider the things your child likes to do, and then expand or adapt to allow for greater targeted practice and skill development.

  1. exercise_girl_pushups_word classroom clipart comWith my students, I typically begin with a whole body task or activity, something that will get all the muscles and joints working.
  2. Next, I will try to use an activity that engages the shoulders, and
  3. then, we will move on to an activity that uses the small muscles of the hand and fingers.
  4. After all that, we get a little actual penmanship practice in, once the body is ready for that level of focus.

 

 

 

Strengthening both the core and fine-motor muscles helps to build the foundation for handwriting skill development.

 

Let’s see if this strategy will work for your child!

Let me share some movement activities that Engage and Strengthen the whole body and follow the strategy I described above.  (Who couldn’t benefit from these activities?)

First, A Word About Strengthening:

As with any strengthening program, begin with very small expectations, and slowly build the amount of time your child engages in these tasks or with these materials.

 

Here we go!

1.  First, try these activities to help to wake up and strengthen all of the muscles, including core muscles and the muscles of the arms and legs, all at the same time.

-Practice Simple Calisthenics (sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.).

-Ride a bike.

-Climb a tree.

-Visit the local park and climb/slide/swing on the playground equipment.

5 Kid-Friendly Yoga Poses From Mind-Body-Green.com

-Swim.

-Walk or run.  Bonus points for walking the dog!

-Learn Kids’ Yoga.

-Play soccer.

-Roll down a grassy hill.  (Be careful if, like me, you have a dog in your yard…)

-Include some Screen Time (believe it or not): Websites like GoNoOdle offer fun, brief “brain breaks” that involve movement and music. Many kids will be familiar with GoNoOdle because their teachers use it in their classrooms!

Looking for more activities?

Search all of the Internet sites listed above with keywords or hashtags: #grossmotor   #proprioception   #heavywork   #kidsexercise   #kidsyoga

 

2.  Next, try these to Engage the Shoulders and Arms.

These activities will help strengthen the larger muscles of the shoulder and arm, while still being fun and engaging, and will also help support bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together).

-Play T-ball.

-Play tennis.

-Play on the floor on the tummy, propped up on elbows.

-Push-ups on the floor if your child can manage this, or against the wall:  Place arms shoulder height on a wall, approximately shoulder width apart. Take a step back from the wall.  SLOWLY bend the elbows, bringing the face close to the wall, then SLOWLY push the body back to the starting position.

-Rake the yard.

-Shovel Snow.  (Hey, it’s snowy in the Southern Hemisphere in June-August!)

-Carry bags with groceries from the car.

-Help carry laundry.

-Use a spray bottle with water and “wash” the windows using big arm movements.

-Play in a sandbox or on the beach with shovels, buckets, trucks, etc.

Making Bread Dough With “My Small Potatoes.com”

-Sweep the sidewalk or the house.

-Vacuum.   (Hey, some kids LOVE using the vacuum!)

-Knead bread dough.

-Create artwork with sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk or vertical chalkboard.

-“Paint” (using simply water and a 1-2″ paintbrush) on the garage door or sidewalk.

-Use the water and paintbrush idea to “erase” a picture drawn with sidewalk chalk outside.

For more activities, try these suggested searches or hashtags:   #bilateralcoordination   #shoulderstability   #shouldercoordination.

 

3.  Then, move on to Engage the Hands and Fingers.

These activities will support and strengthen the muscles and joints of the wrist, fingers, and thumb.  Bonus points if you combine several together creatively!

 

Turke 2-Play with playdough: roll it; pinch it; hide small objects within it and find them by pinching or twisting; cut rolls using scissors.

-Play with Silly Putty:  Use in the same activities as with the playdough.  Or create design “transfers” by pressing silly putty onto a newspaper comic or simple pencil drawing and peel away to reveal a picture.

Insert Q-tips into the holes in the tops of cleaned out spice containers.
Insert Q-tips into the holes in the tops of cleaned out spice containers.

-Insert Q-tips into the holes in the tops of cleaned out spice containers.

-Use small tongs or tweezers to pick up mini erasers or other small objects.

 

 

Push small pompoms into parmesan cheese containers.
Push small pompoms into parmesan cheese containers.

         Push small pompoms into parmesan cheese containers.

-Build with Duplo or Lego bricks.

-Rip up strips of paper, then use a mini “broom” and dustpan to sweep up the pieces.

-String fruit-loop type cereal onto yarn to make a necklace.

Create a bracelet using a rubber band loom.
Create a bracelet using a rubber band loom.

-Create a bracelet using a rubber band loom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here some suggested searches/hashtags  for more activities like these:

#finemotorskills   #eyehandcoordination   #graspingskills

 

4.  Now it’s time to write.

After all the above preparation, your child is ready for a little handwriting practice.  My recommendation is that, whatever process your child is using, whether it’s a structured, formal handwriting curriculum or if it’s something that is more teacher created, it is important to offer opportunities to practice each letter, numeral, or word repeatedly. After all, one time through a workbook is rarely enough for kids to demonstrate mastery of a skill.   If you don’t have a writing program provided by your child’s teacher or OT, you can easily find some type of handwriting practice workbook at your local Target, Walmart, or similar store.  You can also Google #freehandwritingworksheets  (or similar key words) and you will be able to choose from all sorts of free resources online.

 

What about those kids who HATE to practice?

Girl Writing Notebook raphaeljeanneret pixabaySome of my students hate to simply practice letters and numbers because they see no purpose in it. So we try these ideas:

  • We write notes to ourselves.
  • We send letters to their parents, grandparents, or friends.
  • My students make lists of the movies they want to see or of their favorite foods.
  • One student who was really into one particular online game spent a couple of weeks writing a tutorial of sorts for me, so that I could understand all the characters and powers. (Full disclosure: I still don’t understand much about the game, but I do have handwritten instructions prepared by a student who would have otherwise balked at writing!)

 

Mix it up!

Keep a box of different types of writing tools and materials readily available for your child.

  • Crayons, both primary sized and the more traditional sized.
  • Pencils, both traditional and mechanical, and pencil grips.
  • Water-color markers.
  • And papers, to include lined, unlined, and construction.

 

My favorite writing practice tip?

Take that workbook you’ve purchased or been given and either tear the pages out and place them into clear plastic page protectors in a binder, or use a clear plastic overlay on each page. Using a dry-erase marker, you’ve created reusable practice pages, and your child can practice over and over until letters and numbers are legible and written with ease.

 

My next best tip?

Aim for about 5-10 minutes of writing practice after the warm ups (above), several times per week in the summer.   If you can.   If you can’t…just make sure your child is playing, creating, and helping around the house.  Keep your approach light and playful, and you will have your child working on improving their handwriting all summer long…and he or she might not even know it’s work!

 

 

I have been employed in my dream job as an Occupational Therapist at a county-level intermediate school district for almost 30 years. My career has ranged from working in a “center-based” school to working in public and private schools throughout the county, including rural, suburban, and urban schools. I have been blessed to have been able to work with students with a wide range of educational needs, to include cognitive impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical challenges, sensory processing needs, and learning disabilities (plus many more). More recently, OT within the school district has broadened somewhat, giving me access to working with all students and their teachers, focusing on self-regulation, classroom design to enhance learning, and handwriting support. This career has been fulfilling, always presents new and interesting challenges, and is NEVER boring!  If you want to get in touch, you can reach me at sturke@inghamisd.org

 

 

Links to the rest of the series:

10 Tips for Summer Handwriting Fun
10 Tips for Summer Handwriting Fun

Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing From Miss Jaime OT
Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing From Miss Jaime OT

5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers
5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers

 

Stay tuned!  Next week, we will begin our Techie Series.  Hope to see you then!

Tips for Getting Away From Table-Top Activities
Tips for Getting Away From Table-Top Activities

My Handy Handwriting Tool Box

My Handy Handwriting Tool Box:  A q-tip, cotton ball, and some sandpaper!

 

During my first year as a pediatric, school-based occupational therapist, I became a hoarder.  Yes, I can openly admit it.  A bone fide hoarder of gadgets, gizmos, whirligigs, and thingies.  If something even hinted at me that it could be used toward the development of any imaginable skill, I stuffed it into my car trunk.  Soon, the trunk became a California Closet, with bins and buckets and baskets.  At this point, of course, I needed a “more efficient” mode of transportation between car and school.  And out came the roller boards and sail bags!  Soon, I stopped going to the gym because my day job became my daily workout!  Yep.  I had lots of stuff.  But in the end, the economy of energy and time demanded that I spend a weekend sifting through my collection to determine what I actually did use (kind of like Pinterest!).  My OT Tool Box is quite small now and actually lots more fun.  Today, let’s chat about three simple Handwriting Helper Tools that are small, inexpensive, and very functional!

 

Handwriting development and remediation should encourage students to develop tactile, fine motor, and postural skills.   These will build a solid foundation for a fluid, legible handwriting style.  I keep three tools handy that can address these skills during fun, “I don’t even know I’m practicing my handwriting,” activities!

 

My Small Handwriting Tool Box

 

A q-tip helps develop the fine motor muscles of the hand for handwriting.
A q-tip helps develop the fine motor muscles of the hand for handwriting.

1.  A q-tip:  The length and circumference of a q-tip is just perfect for developing the tripod grasp.  It does not leave much room for any additional fingers!  The goal is to work on the tactile and fine motor development of the thumb, index, and long fingers on the “barrel” versus placement in the webspace of the hand.    It is light and encourages the students to put pressure on their fingers to control and manipulate it.  At the same time, its weight allows students with weaker hands to participate in the activity more easily.  They are inexpensive and can be purchased at any discount dollar store.

Uses

painting, dipped in water, and dry tracing

Activities:

Prone to be Good Practice:  Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy lying on their tummies and propped up on their elbows while they paint with their q-tips on a large piece of paper taped to the floor.  This builds postural strength while they develop their age-appropriate grasping skills.

Wall Workout:  Shoulder, arm, and trunk muscles get a nice workout with activities that are taped to the wall or completed on a chalkboard.*  Pre-schoolers, kindergarteners, and elementary students can practice tracing over lines, shapes, letter formations, and words with their dry q-tips on paper taped to the wall. They can “erase” those that have been written in chalk on construction paper or on a chalk board using their q-tip dipped in water.  Be sure they are following the appropriate directional concepts.

I Can See You:  Students can build their tripod grasp, as well as shoulder strength and visualization skills, by writing with their q-tip in the air.  This is a simple warm-up activity to introduce a new letter formation.  Provide a visual demonstration of the letter on the board, with auditory directions as you write it.  With your back to the class, draw it in the air with your q-tip using the same auditory directions.  Then have the students mimic you as they draw them in the air as well.

 

2.  A cotton ball:  A cotton ball comes in handy for the development of pencil grasp and letter formations.  It is light and compact and allows students to work on tactile and visual skills any time, any place!  A bag of cotton balls is inexpensive and easy to carry in your tool box.

Uses

hold it, blow on it

Activities:

Inconspicuous but effective!
Inconspicuous but effective!

Got You In The Palm of My Hand:  Students who struggle with keeping their ring and little fingers in the resting position and off the pencil barrel will find a cotton ball to be their friend!  They can tuck it into the palm of their hand and use those two fingers to keep it in place as they practice their handwriting.  This will build the motor memory for a tripod grasping pattern. 

 

They can use it during art work, too!  It’s a hidden tool that, even if it falls on the floor, it’s a silent partner!

The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.
The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.

 

Cotton Ball Races:  Students of every age enjoy this game!  It can be done with or without a straw, on a table or on the floor.  Very versatile!  Blowing at the cotton ball encourages the development of eye convergence – bringing the eyes together to view close work.  If you add a target to aim at, the game also works on accommodation skills – switching between close and far work with ease and efficiency (like copying from the board).

 

3.  Some Sandpaper:   Sandpaper writing or drawing encourages the development of tactile awareness and enhances a student’s ability to determine how much pressure he is exerting on his fingers and on the pencil.  A too light or too heavy pressure can slow down a writer and lead to hand fatigue and illegible handwriting.  Sandpaper can be purchased inexpensively and is reusable!

Uses

handwriting practice, art activities

Activities:

Rub It Off:  Place a drawing or handwriting worksheet that’s been completed in pencil on top of a piece of sandpaper that been cut to the same size.  Have the students erase the pencil marks with a pencil top eraser to “make it new again.”  The sandpaper provides tactile input for pressure control.   They will have to exert the “just right” amount of pressure to be sure they don’t tear the paper.  If they are working on letter formations, be sure that they erase in the appropriate directions to encourage motor memory development.  You can add shoulder and trunk skills if you tape this activity to the wall or perform it on the floor!

Step-by-Step Drawing:  Have your students use a pencil** to complete a step-by-step drawing activity or to copy a picture on paper over sandpaper.  The sandpaper will provide tactile awareness for the controlled fine-motor movements necessary for duplicating specific lines and shapes – just like letter formations.  And again, the students will be practicing their pencil pressure skills to be sure that their drawing is visible and that they don’t tear the paper.  You can substitute the bond paper with heavy-duty tissue paper to increase the challenge for those students in the final stages of mastering pencil pressure.  You can add postural strengthening by taping the activity to the wall or on the floor.

 

I’d love to hear about three of your “tool box must have’s!”

 

As always, thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Katherine

 

*A chalkboard provides more tactile input than a dry-erase board and develops pencil control skills.
**A pencil (or chalk) provides more tactile input than a marker and encourages the development of pencil pressure and control skills.

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/LKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  You can contact her and purchase her book, “Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists,” through her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

5 Easy Fine Motor Warm-ups for Handwriting

Fine-motor exercises that use everything in your pencil case!
Fine-motor exercises that use everything in your pencil case!

Handwriting mastery places a heavy demand on the muscles of the arm, wrist, palm, and fingers.  A pencil may not seem a formidable object, but the ability to manipulate and manage its movements can take its toll on fine-motor muscles.  So, it is a good idea to warm-up the key handwriting muscles with the “Handwriting With Katherine 5-minute Fine-Motor Workout!”  It’s simple and FREE!*

 

 

The Handwriting With Katherine 5-Minute Fine-Motor Workout

 

Before your students pick up their pencils, have them spend one minute on one or more of these easy activities that use the simple tools that they already have in their desks!

 

  1. Textbook Turnovers:
  • Grab a textbook and place it flat on the desk in front of you. Pick it up with two hands, one on each side.
  • Turn it over 5 times by switching hands from one side to the other, first from right to left, then left to right, without placing it back on the desk.
  • Next, hold the book as though you were going to read it, but with your elbows off the desk just a little. Push it out toward the front of the desk and then pull it back toward your body 5 times each way.
  • If your arms get tired, you can rest them on the desk for a bit!

 

  1. Ruler Wigglers:
  • Grab your ruler with one hand at each end.
  • Place your elbows on the desk with the ruler reaching toward the ceiling. Wiggle the ruler back and forth 5 times in each direction.
  • Lift your elbows up and stretch your arms and hands toward the front of the desk. Wiggle the ruler back and forth 5 times here!
  • Stretch your arms up to the ceiling and wiggle again!
  • If your arms or wrists get tired, you can rest for a moment!

 

  1. Eraser Challenges:
  • Grab an eraser or any small object that will fit into the palm of your hand. Place it in your “writer hand” first, with your arm on the table and your palm facing up.
  • Move it around in your hand by using only your fingers and thumb. Try not to drop it on the desk!
  • Switch hands and practice this exercise using your “helper hand.”

 

  1. Finger Flexers:
  • Keep that eraser handy for this exercise. Place it anywhere on your desk.
  • Reach over with your “writer hand” and pick it up using only your thumb, index, and long fingers. Do this 5 times from 5 different places.
  • Do the same thing with your “helper hand.”
  • Next, place the eraser in the palm of your hand and squeeze it with your fingers 5 times. Do this with both hands.
  • Of course, if your fingers need a rest, it’s okay to do that!

 

  1. Push-up Power:
  • Put a piece of notebook paper between your palms and hold it there at chest level.
  • Gently push your hands together and release just a little bit 5 times. Don’t let the paper fall out!
  • With your palms still touching, stretch your arms toward the front of your desk and back 5 times.
  • Now, stretch your arms toward the ceiling and do the same thing!
  • Tired? You can rest for a bit, you know!

 

It only takes 5 minutes, and some laughs, to get the fine-motor muscles in gear for handwriting practice.  These are also good activities to help prepare the arms and hands for any writing project.

 

*Be sure to download my free handout, “Handwriting With Katherine’s 5-Minute Fine-Motor Workout,” for students to take home!

 

Handwriting With Katherine's 5 Easy Fine Motor Warm-ups for Handwriting!
Handwriting With Katherine’s 5 Easy Fine Motor Warm-ups for Handwriting!

 

As always, thanks for joining me here at the Handwriting is Fun! Blog!  I welcome your comments and enjoy your company!

See you next time,

Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

Handwriting Tips: Getting It Right The First Time (using the lessons in life)

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.
Tip 1: Never buy a house with a wet basement.

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.

Tip 2: Birds do not nest in painted birdhouses.
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!
Tip 3: Less is more!

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.

Tip 4: Don't believe in coincidences.
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.
Tip 5: Money doesn’t grow on trees.

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.

 

 

 

 

 
The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine. 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

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.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures above that are the property of the author and link to an attachment page must provide a link back to this article or her website.

Pictures that are the property of an outside site should include the link provided with the photo to give proper credit to their owners.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: