Hello! And welcome back to our discussion about handwriting struggles for older students. In Part 1, we looked at a bit of research about the importance of legible handwriting, as well as the role that posture plays in an efficient handwriting style. Part 2 peeked into the significance of an efficient pencil grasp and the alternate solutions to a pencil grip. Let’s continue with a look at Some Solutions that will help older strugglers.
Movement, Vision, and Visualization can open the door to efficient handwriting in fun and creative ways for students of all ages. Bring the Tether Ball inside by hanging a soft ball from the ceiling on a string, any size from 5-10″ around (or a tennis ball if you aren’t afraid of breaking anything). Practicing precision eye movements by “keeping your eye on the ball” while tapping it up or sideways in controlled patterns brings movement and vision into play.
Sensory activities that involve using the hands and fingers, such as kneading bread dough or planting in the garden, as well as large muscle activities such as jumping and reaching in basketball, or running and reaching in tennis, bring movement, vision, and proprioception into the picture. Drawing letter formations in the air or identifying those that are “written” on your back, as well as “blind writing” (drawing letters, numbers, or pictures with your eyes closed) aid in the development of visualization skills that are crucial for automatic reproduction of letters and words. And even older students can enjoy using finger paints to practice letter formation, drawing letters in shaving cream, or finding the hidden beads in the Theraputty! Believe me, even the adults enjoy that!
Finally, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! No, not by pulling out a worksheet and attempting to reproduce a perfect letter time after time. (I’m not sure any of us can actually do that!) But, instead, by finding writing ideas that will utilize their creative minds to practice handwriting. Journals, poems, stories, newspaper articles, and letters to relatives are wonderful (and useful) ways to provide meaningful opportunities for older students to practice and hone their handwriting skills. And Cursive Clubs have begun to spring up all over as fun ways to turn handwriting skills from Practiced to Functional!
So, what do you think? Willing to give it a try? I hope so because I think that your older students and children will thank you for it…well, maybe not right away, but eventually! Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in children’s handwriting and offers professional development training in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.