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struggling writers Tomorrow is National Handwriting Day. It’s an unofficial day that was established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977. Their motive at the time was to promote the consumption of pens, pencils and writing paper. January 23rd was chosen as this special day because it is the birthday of John Hancock, the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Our motive is to offer solutions for struggling writers.

Occupational Therapists who work with children experiencing various handwriting isms have taken to social media to educate and raise awareness of all the various ways children can be supported in their handwriting development.

Special-Ism offers parents, teachers and fellow clinicians, the Handwriting Solution Center valuable solutions provided by occupational therapists, perfect for struggling writers.

Handwriting Requires Many Efficient Skills

Occupational Therapist, Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L tells us, “Handwriting isn’t simply about putting pencil to paper. It is a complex activity that requires efficient visual, fine, and gross motor skills in order to be mastered. When a child struggles with handwriting skills, and after first grade continues to find mastery to be a problem, chances are that there are skills that need to be addressed that go far beyond practicing.”

In The Handwriting Solution Center, you will find a solutions for struggling writers provided by Collmer.

Struggling Writers in Preschool

Handwriting skills begin in preschool at a time when visual, fine and gross motor skills are still being mastered.  Preschool is the perfect time to explore the many pre-writing activities to support handwriting readiness.

In Five Ideas to Foster Writing Readiness, Bonnie Hacker, MHS, OTR/L shares, “During the preschool period, children are developing the motor control needed to provide a secure foundation for the development of writing skills, as well as, self-help and complex play skills. Children develop mature grip patterns (including pencil), establish a hand dominance, coordinate the use of both hands together, and develop eye-hand coordination.”

In Help! My Child Hates Writing and Drawing Activities, Hacker opens with, “Many little boys (and some girls) are more motor-driven, kinetic learners who often have little interest in sitting down to draw or learn to write. So what may have initially been a slight lag, over time, becomes a more significant issue and delay, due to lack of practice.”  Hacker continues with a variety of ideas for visual-motor fun for writing and drawing activities!

In 4 Overlooked Pre-Writing Features, Kim Wiggins, OTR/L informs, “When assessing handwriting, there are many components that come into play. It is important to realize that skills build upon each other. Each skill is then used to help the next skill. For example, if a child has a poor grip we automatically want to fix the grip. However, sometimes we need to take a step back and look at what is causing the poor grip.”

Struggling Writers in Primary School

As children move into Kindergarten and First Grade, the amount of handwriting required for schoolwork increases and it must be legible to be graded by the teacher.  Many a teacher simply give children struggling with poor handwriting extra classwork or homework to practice their handwriting skills, without ever considering a referral to Occupational Therapy or making modification to the writing area.

Wiggins offer teaching tips for teachers in Sloppy Handwriting: What is a Teacher to Do? 5 Guidelines to Follow

Wiggins states, “Essentially we want our students to think and write at the same time. We want them to automatically write down their thoughts without having to think about how to form each letter. When students use handwriting automatically, then they become more efficient and can create more elaborate ideas. Children should be proficient with all printing skills by the end of 2nd grade. Unfortunately this does not always occur.”

This may be a good time to refer struggling writers to the school district’s occupational therapist for evaluation or suggest parents to obtain a referral from their pediatrician for a private occupational therapy evaluation.

In the meantime, explore the many resources offered by our knowledgeable occupational therapists.  Within our Handwriting Solution Center, you will discover many more resources by Collmer, Hacker and Wiggins.  Additionally, you will discover a brand new discussion forum, a Twitter feed from our favorite handwriting experts and a collection of favorite Pins.

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An “Ism” is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.