Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Guest Post: 3 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Kindergartner for Handwriting Success


Tera Robinson, OTR/L is a Utah wife, mom and pediatric occupational therapist who loves working as hard as she plays with all the kids in her life! You can visit her blog, yumstheraplay.com, or follow Yums Theraplay on Facebook or Instagram to learn more!


Summer break is just beginning and it always flies by too fast! It pains me to say it, but school will be starting again before we know it. Take advantage of summer time to brush up and prepare your child for the next school year!
As an occupational therapist, I often work with children to develop fine motor skills for activities such as handwriting and cutting. Even in our digital age, paper, pencils, crayons, scissors and glue will be used daily in your student's school day. Current research indicates that good, old-fashioned handwriting improves learning of letters, reading and helps retain information better than typing. Parents can implement some very simple, yet very effective strategies at home to prepare their child for handwriting success in kindergarten and beyond!



1. Encourage the Use of Small Tools

Many children spend quite a bit of time on touch screens, using only their fingers to type, swipe or draw. Children miss out on important fine motor skill development when finger swiping.
The use of small tools will require the small muscles of the hand to develop important fine motor skills for handwriting. You already have perfect items in your house right now: toothpicks, beads, string, pipe cleaners, tweezers, tongs, sticks, chalk, Legos, small game pieces, clothespins, paint brushes, etc. Get these out for play time to help develop fundamental fine motor skills!
Smaller is better! Stay away from thick or chunky writing tools for your preschoolers or kindergartners. Buy the regular-sized pencils, crayons and thin markers. (Remember this when buying school supplies also.) In fact, save some money! Broken crayons and short pencils are ideal to encourage a proper pencil grasp.
Realistically, screens are here to stay, so you can always add a stylus to encourage better fine motor skill development.

2. Encourage an Ideal Pencil Grasp
Start now to help your child develop an ideal pencil grasp that will allow fluid and efficient handwriting in the future. Poor pencil grasp habits are really hard to break as children get older.
Encourage a tripod pencil grasp. Thumb, pointer and middle finger should pinch the pencil while ring and pinkie fingers are tucked into the palm.

"Let the pencil breathe!" Allow thumb, pointer and middle fingers to form an circle while the finger tips hold the pencil. If fingers or thumb are wrapped against the pencil, it is difficult for fingers to move effortlessly without getting tired.

3. Encourage Forming Letters from the Top
Kindergarten teachers would love your child to be able to write their first name by the time they start kindergarten. By the end of kindergarten, students should be able to write all their capital and lowercase letters.
Reinforce starting each capital and lowercase letter at the top with the exception of lowercase d and e (which start in the middle). Handwriting becomes more automatic when letters have a consistent starting point. Eventually, we want students to be thinking about the thoughts they are writing, not on how to write the letters.
I love using handwritingpractice.net to create free worksheets with correct starting points. (I recommend using the print letters with the starting point dots. I don't recommend using the arrows from this website. Kindergarteners can start with 3/4"-1" thick lines to write.) Handwriting Without Tears letter formation charts are what I use to help children remember how to form their letters. (The letter formation from this program encourages more fluid letter strokes over the letter formation arrows in the previous website mentioned.)

Enjoy your summer and have fun preparing for the next school year! Happy handwriting!



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