Posts Tagged 'learning difference'

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.


Handwriting Worksheets: Beware!

MP900049596Handwriting worksheets vary according to the writing program that is being used.  Let’s look at the first of several worksheet “glitches” and how to fix them:

1. A worksheet has four lines for practicing a single letter..  A “model” letter to be traced is at the beginning of the first line but is not repeated at all.  Dots are placed for each letter on the lines.

Problem:  The child will trace the model letter and hopefully make the first independent letter correctly.  The second independent letter is modeled after the first independent letter.  The third independent letter is formed according to the second independent letter not the model. As the child loses focus on the model letter especially on the fourth line, the letter will more than likely be formed incorrectly.

Solution:  Place a model letter at the beginning of EACH line as well as in the MIDDLE of each line.  Make sure the model letter is traced correctly!  Once the letter formation is in the tactile (touch) and proprioceptive (body movement) systems, it’s almost impossible to change!

Note: This pencil grip is highly inefficient!  But that’s another blog!:)

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?


Your child struggled, he was tested by professionals, but you:

Felt that the results did not  reflect your child as you know him;

Felt totally overwhelmed by the results and do not know what to do next;

Agreed with the results, looked to put in place the recommendations but became bogged down;

Agreed with the results, contacted the recommended professionals; found no one you cared to work with;  stopped.

Agreed with the results, contacted the recommended professionals and have things in place.

Which route did you take? Its never too late to get started again!  Find a support person or group to help you move forward.  It can take alot of energy to put a plan in place but it is very important to do so for the sake of your child.  Praying for you…….

Post First Semester Blues

Often I find that parents who have watched their child struggle during the first semester of school are now  faced with the question of “what do I do next?”  Through the first semester of school, words like “give him time to grow, mature” have been the repeated phrase.  But time has not helped.

If you are one of these parents, you may be experiencing sadness and even anger. Your sadness and anger may be  a form of grief.  Your hope that your child would “outgrow” the problem has been dashed!  You may find yourself asking “how severe is the problem?”, “can it be fixed?”, “will they be successful adults?”, “will the school allow my child to stay?” Fear may step in. Try to use your fears to move forward rather than becoming paralyzed.  Seek support from your school counselor, a trusted friend, journaling, prayer as you begin answering the question of “what to do next?.” Also please remember  that your child is also asking “what’s next?” Please help him ……..

Post Christmas Blues

As we regroup from the holidays, it’s time to ponder several different scenarios:

  1. 1. Your child continues to struggle in certain or all subjects: It may be time to have him evaluated by a professional either in school or privately.  It is very important to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses as well as his learning style to enable him to learn in the most efficient and hopefully fun way.

Who to contact for an evaluation:

Developmental / Academic /Behavioral Delays

}  Developmental Pediatrician

}  Psychologist

Specific Motor Weakness

}  Occupational Therapist

}  Physical Therapist

Sensorimotor Problem

}  Occupational Therapist


}  Pediatric Optometrist or Ophthalmologist

Visual Perception: Blocks and Puzzles

Is your child having trouble drawing a square?  Can he make a square out of blocks?

As a child develops concepts of up, down, around, left ,right, etc. with his body, he is also playing with these concepts in toy play.  Seeing a five-year old child who
cannot draw a square, I may ask him to make a square with blocks.  Often they cannot which means we need to begin with the three D concept of a square before teaching the drawing strokes of a square.

Let’s look at what concepts must develop to eventually draw that square:

Vertical: up and down: Near one year of age, a child begins to stack toys.  Playing with the concept of vertical, a child at this age may be successful with two or three blocks. But they are successful!

Horizontal:  Closer to two years of age, a child will align blocks in a row.

Combining vertical and horizontal: Nearing two and a half, a child can make a line of blocks but also adds blocks on top.

But not until they have taken these concepts and used a pencil to develop these same concepts through scribbling, imitation and finally copying, can they eventually draw a square around age four and a half.  Pretty amazing!!!!! Please encourage lots of toy play!!!! Don’t forget blocks!  Don’t forget puzzles!

Puzzle play:  next blog!

Handwriting Questions

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