Handwriting programs incorporate therapist developed fine motor practice and the Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum. Letters are grouped by similar strokes, and not in alphabetical order that is traditionally taught. Music, Dancing, and hands-on activities are used to help children learn letters and enjoy the activities. Each year/grade children are introduced to increased academic instruction and difficulties.
While handwriting is a skill addressed in the classroom setting many schools no longer are able to provide handwriting education, but they continue to require children to use it on a daily basis. Many people feel that handwriting is a lost art due to the increased use of computers, but the written word is still very important. Not only is handwriting still used daily it also teaches many developmentally
A licensed occupational therapist who is certified by Handwriting Without Tears® provides both individual and group based handwriting lessons. Lessons are individually tailored to fit the needs of every child.
Pre-School & Early Learners
Children at this young age should be taught the joy of learning to help prepare them for their academic future. Handwriting basics such as grip, body position, and shapes are taught to help get children ready to learn letters and numbers.
Prepatory skills are important as they teach children the skills they will need latter for successful handwriting and other academic skills. Children are taught using developmentally appropriate and fun multi-sensory activities to help enforce learning.
Children learn to recognize the way each letter is formed using 3-dimensional activities. Capital letters are always taught first because they are developmentally easier for children to learn and it will help children find success early in the handwriting process.
Kindergarten is where the Handwriting Without Tears® program often will begin with formal instruction of handwriting. The program incorporates hands-on activities and multi-sensory teaching strategies that build good handwriting habits early. Handwriting instruction incorporates playing and singing into letter building activities. Once children have learned to properly use capital letters lowercase letters can be taught. As children gain the skills of proper handwriting they will begin to learn combining letters into words, sentences and paragraphs.
Young children should not be left to practice forming letters alone. Perfect practice makes perfect performance so children should have perfectly formed letters and numbers as a model during the early stages of learning.
1st & 2nd Grade
Once children have learned the basic skills of writing such as letter formation, grip and spacing they are ready to begin writing words, sentences, and paragraphs. Lower and upper case letters are both taught in printing. Programming continues to focus on hands-on learning and multi-sensory activities. Activities are designed to be developmentally appropriate and fun so that the children want to learn.
Letters are presented in a developmental teaching order with letters grouped by similarities. Children will enjoy learning about the different style of letters in the HWT curiculum. (frog jump, divers, etc.)
3rd & 4th Grade
Cursive instruction is typically taught in 3rd grade and up due to the increased hand-eye coordination skills children have gained. HWT uses a style of cursive that has less loops and slants which often is what makes cursive difficult for children. Similar to the teaching of print letters, cursive is taught in a developmental teaching order and not in alphabetical order.
While many people say cursive instruction is unneeded, it teaches many valuable skills beyond just written language. Cursive writing help s synchronize the right and left sides of the brain which can increase participation and comprehension which does not occur when printing or typing.
By the 5th grade children typically have a good understanding of written language and need an oppertunity to refine their skills.
Each program will breifly go over the basics of either printing
or cursive skills. Focus will be on decreasing the size of the writing, and increaseing the overall appearance of the writing.
It is recommended that children be formally assessed annually to identify areas of strengths and weakness. The “print tool” is a formal assessment of a child’s current handwriting abilities. While the “Print Tool” is part of the “Handwriting Without Tears Program” it is able to
assess the child’s of children using any of the major handwriting program. Young children who have little understanding of written language typically are assessed informally. The “Print Tool” assesses 8 areas of handwriting.
- Memory: Remembering and printing of letters and numbers that have been verbally dictated
- Orientation: The directionality of letters and numbers
- Placement: The location of letters and numbers on the baseline
- Size: How large or small a letter or number is written
- Start: Where each letter or number begins
- Sequence: The pattern or order of strokes of each part of the letters
- Control: The neatness and proportion of the letters or numbers
- Spacing: Amount of space left between letters within words and the spacing between words in a sentence
Initial assessment using the print tool will include parent consultation. Parents are encouraged to bring samples of their child’s work to help with the assessment process. After completion of the handwriting assessment the treating therapist will provide the family with a report including each of the areas and any recommendations for the child to work on.