One request that Kindergarten teachers receive every year from first grade teachers has to do with handwriting. Kindergarten teachers are so excited to take young children from scribbling, to writing using random letters, to beginning sounds, to both beginning and ending sounds, and finally to almost writing an entire word, that we although we try to focus on correct letter formation, it often doesn’t happen. First grade teachers spend a lot of time on correct letter formation and correct sizing of each letter. Kindergartners will write the word ‘the’ using the same size for all three letters and not really seeing that the t and h are tall, and that the e, is not. To help your child write the letters better in first grade, take a moment to read an excerpt from an article by a trained occupational therapist and you will be reminded of all of the skills needed by your child for correct letter formation. Your child should be writing every day, summer vacation or not. Every day! This is the only way to improve the correct formation of the letters needed for handwriting.
Leonora T. Bradley, MS, OTR, states that there are 8 skills that need to be developed for successful handwriting:
★ Visual memory– knowing what each letter looks like; the ability to name letters and numbers quickly from a random list, as well as being able to visualize a letter or number without actually seeing it.
★ Orientation– the ability to position letters and numbers in the correct direction; ability to print them without reversals or inversions.
★ Placement– the ability to place letters and numbers correctly on the baseline and between lines as needed.
★ Size– the ability to write in an age/grade appropriate size.
★ Start– the ability to start capital and lowercase letters (& numbers) in the correct spot; for capital letters, this should be the top. For lowercase letters, the starting point may vary based on the curriculum.
★ Sequence– the ability to “form” the letter with the parts in the correct order and direction with consistency.
★ Control– the ability to print the letter parts neatly and without gaps, overlaps, or extra tracings.
★ Spacing– the ability to keep letters in words close together while leaving appropriate space between words in sentences.
If your child is having difficulty with handwriting at school, it is important to realize that handwriting issues can be improved greatly through the proper assessment, instruction, and carryover for practice at home. Most times, this practice only needs to be about 10-15 minutes per day