Archive for the 'school' Category

Handwriting Worksheets: Beware! #2

<When writing on unlined paper with his eyes closed, the second grade student's letters are 3/4 inch high.  The space on the worksheet is unlined and allows for 1/4 inch high letters.

Problem:  When a child writes letters with their eyes closed either for fun or for professional observation, the height of the letters produced can represent the “comfort level” of his finger movements.  If the height of the letters are 3/4 inch, this is more appropriate for a kindergarden student than for a second grade student.  As he must tighten down his fingers to place the letter in the worksheet’s smaller space, hand fatigue and decreased writing speed can result.

Solution: Copy the worksheet allowing for larger spaces or allow the writing on an extra page.  If ask to write on the back of the worksheet, two problems appear: 1. usually there are no lines on the back.  We all write better with lines. 2. Flipping the worksheet from front to back and then back to the front can be very distracting as well as taxing on the child’s memory as he attempts to remember the question and answer, flip the sheet and then write.

To help with improving the size of his writing, a program such as “Callirobics” ( may be helpful.  Also it would be important to look at his pencil grip which may be a cause (though not only) of the larger writing.


Need to Wiggle? Teacher Tips

Tips for those kids who need to wiggle to stay alert but should not leave their seat:

1. Chew gum or suck on sour candy (if allowed in school; allow at home if no problem with choking or swallowing)

2. Tie a stretchy exercise band around the front legs of the chair.  Place your legs and feet behind the band.  When the need to get out of the chair arises and you should not, push against the band to help release the “wiggles”.

3. Try a “Sit and Move Cushion”. This has bumps on one side and air inside which allows “wiggling” without getting out of the chair.  Purchase at or

4. Place tennis balls on the back legs of the chair to provide gentle rocking movements.

Other tips you can think about?

Just a thought: For I know the plans I have for you….Jeremiah 29:11

School Wind up: Questions to Think About

As parents we almost always sigh with relief when the last school door closes for the summer!  Along with our children, we have worked really hard keeping track of schedules, homework and other assignments, and outside activities plus daily cooking, cleaning, washing, etc!  Before you jump into your summer schedule (which is almost as busy!), take time to decompress with your child, especially if its been a year of struggle.  This might include taking time to talk about the past school year and writing your child’s thoughts down by his yearly school picture:

What did you like about the year? Friends? Teacher? A special subject?

What did you like least about the year?

What was your favorite subject? Why?

Then you may want to take time to think through these questions by yourself plus the following ones:

What would you change if you could go back?  This may help you avoid the same issues this coming year.

What progress did you see your child make?  Sometimes if there is a learning difference its easier to see the struggles than the progress.  Make notes of even a tiny bit of progress in an area.

How do you need to prepare now for the fall? If tutoring or therapy is involved, its time to make that scheduled appointment now if you want after school hours.

Now have FUN!!!! Summer can be about work but must be about FUN and PLAY for both you and your child!


Equipment: Scissor Types

If your child has not established a hand dominance, consider using “loop” scissors that do not require finger placement but rather use the whole hand for opening and closing the scissors.  These loop scissors often have spring action which helps with the concept of “open and close” needed for regular scissors. Find these at or !

If your child is left handed, please purchase left handed scissors.  Many left handers that I know actually use their right hand for scissor usage as they were not given left handed scissors early in education. Check out!

There are wonderful scissors which allow the teacher to place their fingers along side of the child’s fingers to help with teaching the open and close motion! Find these at or!

For those who like the thumb in a loop, the middle finger in a loop, and the index finger along the blades there are small scissors to allow this method of teaching as well! Find these at

Ready to Use Scissors?

Because development happens in a sequential fashion, it is important to respect the developmental sequence. This may help avoid frustration on your part (as you ask a child to do something they aren’t ready to do) and on the child’s part (whose nervous system is not ready to do this skill).  Stepping Stones Age Norms From Birth to Age Six by Keith E. Beery and Natasha A. Beery have given us developmental guidelines for scissor usage. Please remember however that each child develops at different rates.  You may have a child that is more advanced or one that is more immature than what is listed below as a guideline. Please work at the child’s developmental age level not his chronological age level to insure success! Make sure the scissors are safe and activities supervised.

2.7 years: Makes small snips with help

3.11 years: Cuts a piece of paper in half on a fairly straight line

4.7 years: Cuts out a big circle

4.11 years: Cuts pre drawn 4 inch square within 1/4 inch of line

4.11 years: Makes a collage of easy shapes after cutting out

5.5 years: Cuts cloth with scissors

5.11 years: Cuts out simple picture following a general outline within 1/4 inch

Psalm 139:14


Scissor Skills: Using Two Hands Together

When you are using scissors, it’s necessary for each hand to work separately but yet together.  Take a piece of paper and try cutting a circle out of it with a pair of scissors.  See how well your two hands work together!

Ideally, the dominant hand moves the scissors to cut the paper held in the other hand. The non dominant hand holding the paper will shift the paper, making it more easily cut.  However, frequently in my population, the “dominant” hand will hold the scissors still while the other hand holding the paper does all the work.  I see a lot of this with children who are late deciding which hand to use; or tend to still be deciding which hand to use; or cut going the wrong way.   Therefore it’s important to encourage activities which require the two hands working together: stringing beads, lacing cards, tearing various weights of paper, “pie pan painting” *, buttoning, wringing outwash cloths/sponges, nuts and bolts and the list can go on!  What fun activities have you tried?

*Pie pan painting: place a piece of paper in a pan with a rim on it (pie pan or round cake pan).  Dip a marble or marbles in washable paint.  Place the marbles in the pan encouraging the child to tilt the pan in various directions, creating an abstract painting.  For kindergarten and up there is a game called TracKit which uses this concept to help teach letters, numbers, etc. using a ball bearing slider ( Its challenging but fun!!!!

Parent Teacher Alert!!!

As we rapidly approach February, it is important to think of time lines as Spring Break will be coming our way in March or April.

If you are planning on having your child evaluated, this time of year is one of the busiest for diagnostic professionals.  It may take you several weeks to get your child into see a professional.  Then add a week or two for the professional to score the tests, interpret them, and write the report.  This puts us a month since you picked up the phone and made the appointment.  If your child needs to be evaluated, please don’t wait.

If you are planning to start tutoring or therapy this summer, it is also important to contact the tutor/therapist to place your name on the summer list or to find out the earliest possible date you can do so.  Most tutor/therapists that I know have their summer schedules filled by late March or early April.

Teachers: Please, if you have concerns about a child do not wait till after Spring Break to express your concerns!  As you can see from the above paragraph, parents are probably looking at a month before they receive recommendations after the first contact with the professional.  Spring Break plus a month may mean the end of school.

Jeremiah 29:11

Handwriting Questions

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