Archive for the 'Handwriting' Category



Writing and ADHD

As an occupational therapist,  I see many students who have attention issues.  I often describe their handwriting problems with the following words:

We expect a little body running at 100 miles an hour to sit down and be still in a chair: Really hard! Even if the body is looking still, the nervous system is still running on high and soon little twitches of movement occur and eyes began to roam the room.

Then we ask the hand to move at 15 miles an hour!  We now have a brain that is thinking faster than the hand can write; a body that wants to move but knows it must not;  and a hand that needs to slow down but yet keep up with the brain.

Result:  Lots of illegible writing with great thoughts OR little writing but legible!  Therefore, what should we expect or want to know? Do we want to know what is in the student’s head that he is trying to get down on paper though it may be illegible? Should we expect fewer thoughts and legible writing?  What are your thoughts?

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Come Join Lyn!

Lyn will be a speaker at the National Association for the Education of Young Children in November.  If you are unaware of this group, check out their wonderful website at www.naeyc.org.  They have great products, resources and the latest information in the areas of education for children birth through age 8. My presentation called “Handwriting: There’s More to It than You Think” will be available here in November.

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Paper Modifications

  1. 1. Check the color of the paper: Blue may be helpful for those with visual perceptual weaknesses.
  2. 2. Clearly mark the writing lines:  Anytime the writing lines  change either with color, width, or boldness, explain the difference to the child. With notebook paper it may be helpful to highlight every other space so that the child writes a line of words, skips a space, writes a line of words, etc.  This will help keep the tails of letters such as p, j, g, from interfering with word legibility on the next line.
  3. Mark on the desk where the paper should be placed.Slant of paper and placement does affect quality.
  4. If “hugging the left side of the paper” is a problem, first highlight the left margin of the
    page.  Encourage him to begin at the highlighted edge.  If he continues to
    move away from the highlighted left margin, move the left side of the paper to
    the body’s midline so the child works only in the right body space.
  5. Encourage the student to move the paper up as he writes closer to the bottom of the paper. Many students move their arm off the desk as they reach the bottom of the paper
    which affects legibility.  Encourage him to move his arm across the paper as well to improve legibility.
  6. Make your own paper strips and mark off boxes for each letter to be written in.  Help the child see the outline of the words by drawing around them before writing them.

Puzzles and Writing: Problems?

Children who avoid puzzle and block play may develop visual perceptual issues.  It’s always important to have a child’s eyes checked for tracking, covergence, and accommodation besides acquity before attributing the avoidance to visual perceptual issues.  As we have talked about before, its extremely important to consider the developmental (not chronological) age of the child and his attention span as well.  Below is a list of observations noted when there is a visual perceptual issue in early elementary grades:

  1. Difficultyplacing letters on or between the lines correctly.
  2. Difficulty spacing between words or letters.
  3. Difficulty with reversals of letters and numbers (appropriate at certain age levels).
  4. Difficulty copying from the blackboard or overhead if there is a weakness  in memory or figure ground perception
  5. Difficulty forming rounded letters: letters may be flat on the bottom if
    he is distraced by the printed lines
  6. Difficulty visualizing the letter formations
  7. Difficulty finding objects or words on a busy blackboard or bulletin board.
  8. Difficulty finding objects or shapes which are alike or different
  9. Difficulty drawing simple pictures because he does not picture how
    how they look or cannot determine the shapes they are made of  (house is a square with a triangle roof).
  10. Difficulty with math, particularly lining up the numbers

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

For older children, puzzles with multiple interlocking pieces offer more advanced
concepts.

  • Spatial concept of “corner”: As the child puts sides pieces together with top or bottom
    pieces, this concept is learned. Interesting we don’t use the word “corner”
    much anymore in our conversations!
  • Attention to details: “Part to whole”: Details/ parts can come together to make a picture.
  • Visual memory: This is encouraged as the child looks at the picture on  the box,
    remembers a part of it, and goes to find pieces.
  • Figure Ground: The child is able to find one piece among many pieces.

Interlocking
multi piece puzzles

Writing

 Concepts of corners  Names are written in the left upper corner of the paper
 Attention to details on the pieces  Attention to details that make a “b” turn into a “d”
 Visual  memory  Ability to picture and remember the “looks” of a letter (Writing of a
letter comes through motor memory.)
 Figure Ground  Ability to sort out words from a busy blackboard or a letter from the
middle of a word; ability to write on a line without being distracted by the
line (letter will be flat on the bottom if distracted by the line).

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection #2

Last blog post, we looked at simple inset puzzles.  Before moving on let’s take these skills we discussed and see how they apply to writing:

PUZZLES WRITING
Inset puzzle
Visual discrimination: Shape of the puzzle piece and the space it  goes in are the same or can be different A letter needs to fit on or between  lines. A half circle and a long stick may or  may not be the same letter (d,b)
Visualization: A puzzle piece must be turned over  or rotated in the child’s mind and in his
hand
A letter may be turned over or rotated to form a new letter (b,p,n,u)
Child must visualize (remember) the shape and where it goes as he  removes the pieces from the board A letter must be visualized (remembered) while writing it to be  matched to the picture of the letter in the child’s mind (long-term memory)
Color or size does not change the shape of the piece A letter’s shape does not change regardless of color or size

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

Puzzles and writing? What could be the connection?!

We just explored how concepts are developed with block play.  A child learns to make a square out of blocks before they are able to draw one from memory.  Puzzles offer many opportunities to develop concepts of space just like blocks do (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, around, over etc.).  There are two types of puzzles we will consider:  the inset puzzle and the multiple piece
interlocking puzzles that make a picture.

For younger children the inset puzzle introduces:

  • Visual discrimination: shapes of objects and  matching spaces. A shape and space can be the same or they can be different.
  • Visualizing as they move a piece to place in the hole: A shape can be turned to make it fit into a like space. However, they also learn that a circular piece will never fit into a square hole even if you  turn it.
  • Size and color discrimination:  A large piece will not fit in a small area!  The color of an object may or may not determine where it should be placed in a puzzle.
  • Many other concepts: can you think of some?

Our next blog we will look at the more complex interlocking puzzles and what a child can learn from them!!!


Handwriting Questions

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ALPHABET PLAYING CARD DECKS

Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R