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Do your kids have trouble spacing their letters? Are their letters all over the page? Is their writing illegible? Do they hate writing, or do they have dysgraphia?
Handwriting requires a lot of visual perception skills. Did you know that the visual system does not completely develop until age 9?
That means that our younger ones are often struggling with where, and how to place their letters on the page, and they often can land all over, everywhere!
Now, these concerns are not even anything to think about when starting out learning their letters. Kids need lots of time to learn to letter shapes and such,
|Painting with apples for the letter A.|
.... through fingerpainting, making letters in the air, playing games with letters, and writing them on big sheets of paper with no lines at all.
Handwriting can become tedious, and no fun, and that just makes it all the harder.
Today, I am sharing some handwriting approaches that may help your struggling handwriters.
Here are four of my favorite techniques, from my OT days, that may be helpful:
1. Learning to write from left to right:
2. Leaving space between letters and words:
Many kids struggle with spacing, as this requires more visual perception skills than many young writers have yet. Typically kids crowd their letters together, leaving no space at all, or too much space between words.
What's the answer? A popsicle stick or a tongue depressor
Why? A popsicle stick can make a great spacer for your kids. The ones that are thicker at the end work best for the widely spaced handwriting paper.
I recommend having a family popsicle party first, and by all means, coloring it, and decorating each one, to make it their own.
Take the stick and show your child how to space letters. This shows them spacing, that their visual system doesn't yet tell them about.
3. Placing letters where they go on the lines:
Letters can also be hard to place on the line, especially when dealing with different sizes of letters, ie, f takes up two lines, e only one.
Here are some handy guides, for each type of letters. I just made mine out of cardstock, but cardboard would probably last longer.
One guide is for the small letters, a, c, e, etc, another is for the tall letters like b, d, l, etc, and one more, for letters with tails, like g, j, p, q, y...
Here are the templates for each of these guides.
Feel free to copy them, and cut them out of cardboard or cardstock for your kids. Just fit them to your size of handwriting paper. I recommend the widely spaced ones, like I used above.
I would pick one type of letter to focus on first, say the little ones, a, c, etc, and help your child get used to using the guide. Then I would continue with the other types of letters.
4. Using a game approach, short sessions, with a focus on success.
Here's some handwriting paper, that you are welcome to copy....
Using guides, etc can help your kids with their handwriting, until their visual perception kicks on. And keeping on with handwriting actually helps to develop tthose important visual perceptual skills.
Going to keyboarding right away can be a mistake. Keyboarding does not help to develop the sensory motor system, in the way that handwriting does.
Learning to write by hand has so many advantages for most kids:
1. It improved visual perception skills.
2. It helps to learn to shape of the letters, as they feel their shape, as they write with their pencil. This helps develop kinesthesia, and the sensory processing system.
3. It helps with retention, as the act of writing the words on the page helps to plant the info in the brain, in a way that does not happen with keyboarding. Using their sensory motor system to write the words helped to make the information stick in their memory.
What are your child's favorite ways to practice handwriting? I love reading your comments. I also have 6 more posts on play-oriented ways to work on handwriting here.
I also invite you to share a page of your kid's work, on my facebook page, BJ's Homeschool. I would love to see what they have been doing. Just like my page, and add your handwriting update there.
Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,
Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school. She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early years, high school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind. She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.