World OT Day is October 27! This is a day to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of occupational therapists around the globe.
Handwriting is one of the most common referral areas to occupational therapy for school aged children. It’s crucial for children to master handwriting for them to be successful in other subjects. Research has shown that handwriting can influence students’ reading, writing, language use, and critical thinking skills.
Illegible handwriting can impact students’ performance in other subject areas. It is often the OT’s job to identify underlying issues such as motor, sensory, cognitive, or psychological challenges that prevent the child’s handwriting success.
Proper, multisensory handwriting instruction and remediation can yield dramatic improvements quickly. Research shows that children learn best by being active and by using their senses. So get your kids to roll up their sleeves and get multisensory materials in their hands. Whether it’s squishing play dough in their fingers to sculpt letters or filling shaving cream in a plastic sandwich bag to make letters out of "frosting,” children will learn best when they’re actively using their senses.
Children are often referred to OTs for handwriting struggles like letter reversals and poor grip. Here are some sensory-rich ways to encourage quick and efficient handwriting remediation, so your students can write automatically and clearly:
The most common letter reversals are d and b. To prevent reversals, separate d and b by teaching d during the Magic c Letters group and teaching b during the Diver Letters group. Reinforce correct formation of capitals using the Wet-Dry-Try method on the Slate Chalkboard, which uses a smiley face on the top left corner to encourage proper, left-to-right letter orientation. The Blackboard with Double Lines is perfect for teaching mid lines and letter formation for lowercase letters. Using these tools and strategies helps develop good writing habits and correct common letter reversals.
The first place to start when remediating a poor grip is to determine the skilled or preferred hand. Notice which hand the child uses more often during activities requiring hand use (e.g., eating snacks and stringing beads). Work as a team and ask teachers and students to keep their eye on which hand the child uses dominantly. Once handedness has been established, you can move on to these tips:
- Small Tools
It is important for children to use writing tools that promote the correct use of the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. Often, when children are given regular size pencils and crayons, their grip becomes awkward because these tools are too heavy and long for their hands. Break full-size crayons and chalk in half or try our FLIP Crayons® and Little Chalk Bits to maximize your students’ control over their letter formation.
- Creative Play
Children learn best with imaginative activities. Provide creative opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills that are necessary for correct grip, such as cutting paper dolls, manipulating play dough, or stringing beads to strengthen fine motor abilities.
- Work Those Fingers!
Keep the little finger and ring finger in the palm. Have children hold a small sponge or penny in the palm with the little finger and ring finger. This keeps those fingers out of the way as the thumb, index, and middle fingers hold the pencil.
In honor of World OT Day, we are offering $50 off an in-person workshop with promo code OTDAY2018. This offer is only valid on October 27, 2018 and cannot be combined with any other offers.
Don’t forget to visit Learning Without Tears at the Texas Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (TOTA) Mountain Central Conference (MCC) from November 2–4. See you there!