for Teachers and Parents...
Your Children at Home with Handwriting
who paint or write in cursive, but who are unable to write legibly and
consistently, in spite of repeated admonitions, require special approaches
to the solution of their special difficulties. These are youngsters who
are unable to properly form their letters, who have difficulty keeping
their letters on the line, who may not seem to understand the relative
sizes of letters, who either crowd letters within words together, or who
space so poorly that it is almost impossible to determine where one word
ends and another begins. The net result is that what they have written
is often difficult or nearly impossible to decode, even when it is spelled
correctly. Here are
some suggestions other parents have successfully used to help their children.
alphabet is based on geometric shapesthe circle, cross,
square, and triangle. Get a large chalkboard, or make one.
Dad can purchase a sheet of masonite from the local lumber company
and then get a can of chalkboard paint from the hardware store. Use
at least a four-by-four surface (larger would be even better). Select
a wall in your home that is convenient and, after it is dry, tack
it up. Let your child practice drawing circles and other geometric
forms, nice and large.
painting is a messy activity unless you have a large area that
won't be too difficult to clean. Oil cloth on an old table or on a
concrete or linoleum floor works quite well. Use a plastic apron on
yourself and your child. Have him roll the paint around in huge circles
so that on only his hands, but his elbows and shoulders are involved.
Just playing with shapes on the slippery surface helps tremendously.
Making shape-designs is fun and reinforces the development of shape
children just can't seem to stay "on the line" as they print
or write, try using a red felt tip pen to rule across the lines
that will be the bottoms of letters. You may also want to use a green
felt tip pen just to remind your child when to begin his strokes,
since printed letters start basically at the top and go down.
often children hold pencils and crayons in an awkward manner and grasp. To develop the strength in the hands and fingers for proper grasp,
let your child do activities that require holding or hanging. Make
good use of your school playyard. Let him hang by his hands from the
jungle gym to develop strength in the shoulder girdle as well as his
hands. Squeezing objects, such as little rubber balls, or playing
with wooden clothespins help to develop finger coordination and strength.
of the prerequisites for handwriting is the ability of the eyes to
work in close cooperation with the hands. This means that the
eyes themselves must be able to move smoothly and must be able to
follow moving targets. General motor coordination (balancing, hopping,
running, skipping, et cetera) is necessary for laying the groundwork
for smooth, fine muscle control. Play, for example, flashlight tag
with your child. This requires two flashlights and a dark room. You
be "It" and see if your child can, with this flashlight,
"tag" your light.
tracing games. Have your child sit next to you with his eyes closed.
Take his writing hand, index and middle fingers pointing and the other
fingers flexed, and trace a shape or letter on a large surface. See
if he can guess what shape or letter you traced.
you're prepared to be squirted, and it's a warm day, and your
back yard has a sunny wall, try this one. Get a squirt gun and let
your child "write" letters with water on the wall. The sun
will dry the letters reasonably fast. This allows your child to use
space and estimate, on a large surface, just how he will execute the
proper formation of the letter.
the way your child sits when he writes. As a check, try this yourself.
Sit at a table so that your elbows comfortably rest on the surface.
Then fold your hands in front of you, flat on the desk so that your
body and folded hands form a triangle. If you are right-handed, the
paper would go directly under that folded arm. If you are left-handed,
the paper would go directly under that folded arm. Notice that when
you hold the pencil, after this experiment, that the writing hand
touches the surface of the paper directly along the line of the little
finger and wrist. If you are right-handed, your back and head will
be slightly curved to the left. (Vice-versa for the left-hander.)
If your child is doing anything other than this, it means that he
is not ready for the activity, or it is too demanding for him. It
may also suggest that he has visual difficulties in the way he uses
his eyes. (This does not necessarily mean that he has poor vision.)
a child continues to reverse letters, even as his handwriting
improves, give him opportunities to identify left and right on his
own body. Play game requiring use of just the left hand or the right
hand or the left foot or the right foot. Play "blindman's bluff"
in which you must direct him across a room by giving him turns to
make. Have him direct you when it's your turn.
you notice that your child continually holds his pencil right at the
tip, it can suggest that too much pressure is required for holding
it properly. Try using a rubber band, twisted several times, and place
it just above the shaved area. This will provide a tactile reminder
on where to hold it.
writing" is a term applied to large handwriting at a chalkboard. On the chalkboard you've made for home use, have your child stand
so that he is facing the center of the board. Then, if he is right-handed,
have him start a series of "e" letters, all connected, and
all moving from left-to-right. As he move from left-to-right with
his writing hand, he should keep his feet firmly planted in one spot,
and move his arms as far as he can. Then he can practice with "y"
letters, and then combine "e" and "y" across the
your child to use what he learns. Go on a sign-making spree. Let
him write (and decorate) signs that say, for example, "This is
Jimmy's room. Enter at your own risk," et cetera. He can help
you prepare a shopping list or birthday list. You'll undoubtedly have
dozens of ways your child can use his developing skill in a practical
games with plastic letters that can be purchased at most local
variety and school supply houses. These come in two formsboth
manuscriptupper (capitals) case and lower (small letters) case.
In order to print a letter a child must be able to visualize the shape
of the letter. Let your child take one of the plastic letters and
feel it with his eyes closed. Can he recognize and name it? Can he
draw it even if he is unable to name it? Let him describe it as he
is feeling the surface and the sides. On confusing letters such as
"h" and "n," which many children have difficulty
with, let him feel them, one at a time, and help him feel the difference
between the two.
a child develops proper formation of letters, particularly in
cursive, but does not maintain a constant slant, try this. Even though
it takes a little time, it is worth it. With a ruler, pencil-in diagonal
lines, very lightly, across the paper. These diagonal lines should
be carefully done sothat they provide "guidelines" for your
child. As he writes, he has a visual set of "clues" to use
to make sure his letters all slant the same way.
Your Children at Home with Reading
Helping Your Children at Home with Arithmetic
Your Children at Home with Spelling
Helping Your Children at Home with Vocabulary
Your Children at Home with Geography
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