Student Name:________________________ Teacher:______________________
Posture – wrist stability
Chair height should be adjusted to fit the desk or table height or vice versa so that the desk or table is about halfway between the shoulder and elbow when arms are straight at sides, and elbow should be able to rest comfortably on the top of the desk. Child’s back should be against the back of the chair and feet on the floor. Knees, hips and ankles should be at 90 degree angles.
Position of Writing Surface - wrist stability
A vertical or a slanted surface (chalkboard, whiteboard, paper) is excellent for learning handwriting because it brings the head up and it places the wrist in extension promoting good biomechanical positioning for holding the writing tool.
A 3-4 inch wide 3-ring binder turned sideways is a great modification for a slant board on desk top.
Writing paper should be centered on the desk top with the top of the paper angled to the non-dominant side so that the lower left hand corner (for right handed writers) points to the student’s belly and the lower right hand corner (for left handed writers).
Desks facing board
Avoid cluster seating to decrease positional and direction confusion, especially for handwriting instruction.
Writing Tools / Grasp
Small crayons and pencils approximately 1 inch are great; they prompt the child to use a thumb/finger opposition moving towards a mature tripod grasp.
Place a small object(s) in the palm of the child's hand so that the little, ring, and middles fingers flex around the object(s) promoting the dynamic tripod grasp. Such objects could be small sponge, kleenex, fish crackers, cereal, etc.
Tape or stickers may be needed at the bottom of pencil shaft to indicate where fingers should be placed.
Various grips, devices, and types of pencils can be used to promote a dynamic tripod grasp as well.
Place the writing tool in child's hand to resemble the dynamic tripod grasp (pick up pencil from table top using pincer and flip it so it’s resting in open web space).
Writing is too light
Try colored pencils, ink pens, use thin lined markers, weighted pencils, and wiggle pens.
Chalk or grease pencils are good because they provide resistance when applied to the paper reinforcing proprioceptively the motor plan of that letter.
Crayon rubbings over templates
Use sandpaper under writing paper.
Use a #1 pencil, softer lead writes darker or can try pencils with thicker pieces of lead.
Writing is too heavy
Use mechanical pencils.
Provide a textured writing surface to increase feedback sensations to the hand.
Try putting books, stacks of paper or dycem under writing paper.
Writing too hard will fatigue the hand, may need to modify or shorten written work, offer typing as an alternative; work in 5-10 minute increments then break and stretch.
Provide a therapy ball in the other hand to squeeze while writing.
Use a #3 pencil.
Write on tissue paper which will rip if push to have to learn to grade pressure used in writing.
Prepare a baking tray with a shallow layer of any impressionable substance (sand, sugar, salt, birdseed, rice, pudding, shaving cream) and have them use their index finger to trace through.
Make raised letters on index cards to trace with index finger (glue, sand, puffy paint).
Trace over prewritten letters with beans, stickers, paint, etc.
Form letters with play dough, putty, clay, pipe cleaners, wikki sticks, etc.
Write letters with a vibrating pen.
Write letters in the air using large arm movements, first with eyes closed and then with eyes open.
Write letters on child’s back and see if they can identify them then have them form letters on your back or a peers (can also use palms).
Use rectangular height boxed paper to write capital letters within to reinforce tall and using the corners to give directions on formations.
Write letters on paper that is placed over a textured surface (sandpaper, plastic canvas, rubbing plates).
On chalkboard or white board write the letter, have student trace over with their index finger to erase then have them form the letter.
Visual Motor Coordination
Difficulty Writing on Lines:
Try highlighting the bottom half of the line. Teach students to stay in the yellow for all the lower case letters, tall lower case letters start at the top line, descending letters dive down from the middle.
Darken writing lines so they are easily seen.
Create a raised bottom line (using glue once it’s dry or wikki sticks)
In the margin draw a house: the roof (a triangle) is within the top half of the line, the house (square) is in the bottom half, below then line is the basement. Tall letters start in the attic, short letters start inside the house and descending letters go down into the basement.
Highlight the left margin green and the right margin red to remind them where to start and stop.
Difficulty with Spacing:
Teach students to finger space between words, can also use space buddies made from popsicle sticks.
Have student place a dot or a stamp after each word as a spacer and gradually change to using a dot from their pencil to no dot needed.
For early learners, exaggerate spacing between words in models.
Older students can be introduced to graph paper or enlarged graph paper and cue them that each letter gets one box with one box empty between words.
Have students practice re-writing sentences that have no spaces between words.
Letters and Number Reversals:
Try writing within rectangular boxes oriented to be tall versus wide. Use the features of the box as landmarks, can add a dot or star to signal beginning point.
Common reversals include letters b/d, p/g/q/, w/m, j, s, z - For b/d have student make fists with thumbs up and face knuckles towards one another, the left hand will form a b right a d, can use saying first the bat and then the ball when learning letter formations of a.
Work on directional terms right/left -Tape a card on the desktop highlighting the commonly reversed letters providing a visual model of how they are to be formed (sample included in handouts)
Read through a story and have the student identify all of a particular letter.