Ten Best Apps for Handwriting with Kids

As I walked into school the other day, a friend of mine grabbed me in a panic and said “Should my four-year-old really be practicing a page of letters every night?! This is the only time I get to spend with her and I’m forcing her to write a whole page of D’s! This stinks!”

No, as an OT, I don’t believe that a four-year-old should be practicing a page of letters for twenty minutes a night.  It’s too much for those little hands.

But – an educator who spends two days a week in kindergarten, I have to say, this is where the curriculum is going. Developmentally, preschoolers are still preschoolers, but kindergarten curriculum expectations have increased tremendously.  Little kids are expected to be able to write upon entering kindergarten.  Preschools are bowing to the pressure and teaching what used to be the kindergarten curriculum.

I felt empathetic towards my friend who just wants to play with her little girl at night, rather than drilling her to finish a worksheet.  But here’s what I told her.

Think about it differently.  You have the chance to make sure she learns all her letters correctly before she starts Kindergarten.  There will be other children in her class who don’t know their letters, and the teacher won’t be able to really sit with them one on one to make sure they get it.  Many teachers teach one letter a day in two forms (capital and uppercase), so the kids don’t really develop the motor memory.  It’s difficult for kids to learn it and to write comfortably at this rushed pace.   If a child learns their letters correctly it is so much easier for them to write neatly.  It becomes automatic.”

 

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Why not to push handwriting for kids

handwriting, preschool, school, writing, visual motor, graphomotor, OT, Miss Jaime OT

Pushing kids into writing before they are developmentally ready happens to be one of my pet peeves. (I actually have quite a few of them, you can read all about them here. )

Experience has shown me is that children should NOT be pushed into handwriting before they’re ready. So many kids are entering Kindergarten without the basic pre-writing skills they need. Yet the Kindergarten curriculum expects them to be writing right away!

Before handwriting, children need to master pre-writing skills

Pre-writing skills are the lines, shapes, and strokes kids need to master and know before learning how to print the alphabet. They develop from 1 year to 5 years old.

Pre-writing skills ARE important.

Kids need to learn and master pre-writing lines, strokes, and shapes and strengthen their fine
motor skills before learning how to form the letters of their name or the alphabet.

Prewriting Milestones

1-2 years old:

A baby is typically scribbling and learning to make marks on a paper. They are probably holding a crayon or marker with their whole hand. This is called a palmar supinate grasp.

As they develop more control, the next step is to imitate. Maybe you make a line or shape and
then your child imitates that same line or shape.

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Effortless art crayons

Effortless Art Crayons

“Effortless Art Crayons”  is a sponsored post

“Every time he wants to change colors, I have to waste two minutes adapting the crayon.  It’s such a waste of time!”

Occupational therapists and special education teachers are magicians when it comes to adapting stuff for our kids with weak motor skills, developmental delays, or atypical grasp patterns.  But sometimes it’s just a pain in the neck!

The main goal is to help children be independent.  So if an adult has to step in every few minutes to put the grip on a new crayon or adjust a child’s fingers so they are in a functional position, it goes against what we are working toward (Independence!)

It’s easy to keep a grip on a pencil, but what about crayons?  The child wants to change colors every few minutes- that’s half the fun!

I’ve found the solution. 

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Handwriting 101: The Handwriting Basics You Need to Know!

Handwriting, graphomotor skills, spacing tricks,

HANDWRITING 101: UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS

Handwriting is a complicated motor skill that requires dexterity, strength, motor planning skills, and visual memory. In the past, children learned the alphabet and how to write their letters in kindergarten. These days, children are learning how to write earlier and earlier.

Most preschools boast that they include capital and lowercase letters in their daily instruction, even though the NY state curriculum expects capitals and a few lowercase.

Why? Parents want their children to be prepared for kindergarten. Nowadays, most children are already writing on the first day of school. However, their muscles aren’t ready to start so young.

What should we do?

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Holiday Themed Visual Perceptual Activity Packet

FREEBIE: 5 PAGE HOLIDAY THEMED VISUAL PERCEPTUAL ACTIVITY PACKET

holiday themed visual perceptual activity packet

FREE FOR SUBSCRIBERS!

Don’t you just love the holidays?

I do.  Especially at school with the kids.  There are so many fun things going on: concerts, holiday boutique, holiday parties, Secret Santas, and all kinds of jolliness.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep those kids engaged, though.  They are overstimulated from all the music, busy decorations,  sweet treatments and holiday excitement.

At times like this, I love to have some fun activities or worksheets to do with the kids on my OT caseload. This year, I’m focusing on visual perceptual skills.

I’ve created a Holiday Themed Visual-Perceptual Activities packet that I can use with all of my kids – from my Kindergarteners to my Middle Schoolers.  Some of the activities are very simple, while others are pretty tough.

All of the pages are black and white – because coloring is great fine motor work! To work on shoulder stability, have the kids do these worksheets on a vertical surface or while laying on their tummy!

My Free Holiday Themed Visual Perceptual Activities packet works on the following skills:

Visual Discrimination: This is the ability to notice and compare the features of an item to match or distinguish it from another item; distinguishing a P from an R, matching shapes to complete a puzzle, etc.

Visual Figure Ground: This is the ability to find something in a busy background; finding the red crayon in a messy supply box, or finding the milk in a packed fridge, as well as finding a bit of specific text on a busy printed page.

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How To Help A Child That Uses Too Much Pressure When Writing

Many children use too much pressure when writing.  Read on for OT tricks to conquer this problem!


“He breaks pencils like crazy, and then wastes 5 minutes each time to go sharpen it!  Why is he pressing so hard?”

The teacher’s cheeks were pink with frustration.  I could see her patience with Billy was at an all time low.

This little boy was bright, but he wasn’t producing neat work and he wasn’t finishing his work in an appropriate time frame.  And all because of one silly reason:

Too much pressure.

There are a few reasons why a child may be pressing too hard when writing, coloring and drawing.

too much pressure when writing

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Middle School and Handwriting

How to Improve Horrendous Handwriting When All Hope Is Lost

This post contains affiliate links.

Handwriting and Middle School

Middle School and Handwriting  – part 2

When I first learned that I was getting hired in the district where I currently work, I was beyond thrilled.     A school district job!  It’s like winning the lottery!

Then I heard the rest…

I would be split between two schools.

Okay…I can live with that.

Two MIDDLE schools.  Teenagers.  

Ummm, I’m not sure I can live with that!

I can still remember the creep of red crawling up my neck as I answered the principal on the phone. “Great!  Looking forward to it!”

A million scenarios ran through my head- Will they listen to me?  What if they’re rude? I’m so used to the little kiddos – will I be able to do it?  Butterflies were flying wildly in my stomach.  Self-doubt had totally set in.  

But to tell you the truth – I loved it. The kids were great. Teenagers are just big kids, full of laughter and good-natured mischief.

What really did stink?   All the Handwriting.  Oh, the handwriting.   

Reading messy handwriting is seriously torturous.  Like… comparable to squinting at the sun.handwriting and middle school

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