1. People say that handwriting instruction is no longer a necessity because of the prevalence in the use of gadgets that effectively replace our need to write using traditional writing tools. Why do you say that handwriting instruction is still important and relevant today?
On the surface, you’re right.
It does seem counterintuitive to stress a manual skill that has been so ably replaced by technology. Certainly, one cannot discount the advantages or convenience that personal computers, smart phones, laptops and tablets have brought to our world. When it comes to volume writing under the right fingertips, keyboarding can be faster. Cut and paste editing turns rough drafts into final ones in seconds. Legibility issues… gone! And auditory feedback… if you turn it on, provides invaluable guidance to errant spellers and writers.
But that’s down the road. We’re just at the starting gate. In fact, we’re still in the paddock, as it were. Preschoolers and early elementary students are just learning to think. And for your beginner learners, there is no better way to open the channels of inter-hemispheric communication than by putting pencil to paper.
And the research proves it.
MRI studies have compared the brains of children in the process of printing to those of children either keyboarding or working on letter recognition. Following a period of intervention, the results were profound. In all the studies, there was a marked spike in electrical activity among those children who had been taught and were practicing printing. In fact, their MRI maps appeared comparable to those of adults.
In contrast, there was little to no change in the activation of the brains of the children keyboarding or those learning to recognize letters.
The implication is huge.
When children are learning how to learn, it is essential that multiple memory sites be established in the brain. This is the genesis of recall, problem solving, creativity, inferences, and more. Heightened electrical activity suggests that superhighways are operating, or at least, under construction.
Even in older students, the effects on learning are enhanced by manual writing over keyboarding. In studies where the two groups took lectures notes by either hand or via computer, the former showed a significant and sustained recall of information over the latter.
Yes, even in the 21st century, handwriting is a critical adjunct to learning, and teaching children how to print—an essential curricular lesson.
2. With increased knowledge in handwriting intervention/remediation techniques and awareness in the both the OT profession and field of education, there remains to be a high percentage of children with handwriting-related challenges. Why is that? What are we doing wrong?
The more I travel the country, participate in social media discussion groups, attend conferences, and engage with university students, the more impressed I am with the caliber of our colleagues both in the fields of Occupational Therapy as well as in Education. Both veteran and novice therapists and teachers have a wealth of insights and experiences that they share tirelessly with their students. It is not for lack of trying.
Rather, the culprit is reality. There is no time. There is no money. And there is an erroneous (if not well-meaning) hope that skill acquisition will happen on its own.
Unfortunately, research shows that is not the case. Passing years alone will not insure that students acquire competency in printing. Printing is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced.
Yet, surveys of teachers acknowledge a general discomfort with the topic. Their schooling prepares them to develop curriculum and cover content like reading, writing and math. But only 12% reported any familiarity about how to teach handwriting. Without that background, instruction has frequently been relegated to a self-study course, with handouts, homework, informal references or incidental instruction characterizing the extent of their handwriting focus.
On top of that, administrators are plagued with budgetary problems. Slashes to personnel and extracurricular programs added to current legal, technological and curricular costs, place the purchasing of consumable materials on the chopping block. Given the choice between teaching social studies and gym versus buying individual workbooks, economy dictates decisions.
That’s the real State of the Union.
So, in answer to the question of “What we are doing wrong?” it is that we have not reshaped our solutions to fit this current climate. We have been petitioning districts to invest in handwriting workbooks, hoping principals will free time in the academic day, encouraging teachers to instruct letter formations, and creating fun writing games so children will engage in drill and practice. What we have not be willing to do is recognize that the demands currently placed on teachers and the limited available time they have to cover content is not going away.
The sooner we recognize that this is a different age, the sooner we can identify solutions. We must work smarter.
3. For the majority, if not all, of the common handwriting programs out in the market today, the focus has been on letter formation. Your program's emphasis is on letter size. Why is that and what led you to veer away from the commonly accepted "letter formation" route in handwriting remediation?
Like most of your audience, I’m a school-based OT, too. And like them, I too was deluged with handwriting referrals. So being a good therapist, I harkened back to all the theories informing our knowledge of development, motor skills, learning, sensory processing, perceptual competence and more, and followed them with popular existing instructional programs. In other words, my treatment programs started with a healthy dose of core strengthening, in-hand manipulative activity, visual perceptual challenges, increased proprioceptive feedback and concluded of course, with printing.
The printing programs were varied. Depending on the schools and/or the previous therapists or administrative preferences, there were a lot of options. Zaner-Bloser had a charming and colorful workbook that paired upper and lower case letters at the same time. Their writing lines included an extra line for descending letters. Fundations followed a phonics sequence and referred to its writing lines by icons including the sky, clouds and grass. Peterson used green top lines and red bottom lines. Their letters were often made in two unconnected strokes. D’Nealian touted italicized letters, and suggested that their ‘monkey tails’ segued more easily into cursive. [FYI—research proved it does not.] Handwriting Without Tears introduced individual gray letterboxes and 2-lined paper, and presented letters in a common directionality of stroke sequence. All emphasized the importance of letter formations.
Regardless of the method, the children worked diligently and carefully to form their letters. But the problem was that I could never graduate these students off my caseload. When they returned to class, there was no carryover. Equally concerning, there was no sound bite or strategy to share with the teacher so that they could continue the progress.
I couldn’t live like that.
So I started playing around with variables that seemed more impactful. I observed that when students corrected errors in letter size, they made an immediate and visible difference in the readability of the written page. Not only that, but since there were only three different letter sizes, it was an especially quick lesson to impart.
At this point, the special education children with whom I worked had become the neatest printers in the schools. Translating that success into regular education classrooms came next. With the permission of a few teachers, I began putting my toe into regular education classrooms. I provided the students with a 20-30 minute Size Matters lesson. That’s it.
It was then that the power of the program became unleashed. “I’ll never teach another method of handwriting again,” one teacher told me. Her students printing changed instantly. One parent even called the school to admit to having scolded her daughter for bringing home someone else’s assignment book. She didn’t recognize her own child’s printing.
After that, I began conceptualizing, formalizing and testing my theory.
4. Can you tell us more about the evidence/research and numbers behind the Size Matters Handwriting Program?
(You bet! This has now become a chapter book!)
It is one thing to have success with a program one has designed herself. It is quite another thing for someone else to experience the same success. Even more so, is the irrefutable, empirical and statistical evidence of cause and effect research.
Armed with the former, strong anecdotal and personal triumphs, I turned myself over to the Occupational Therapy program at Temple University where I had completed my doctoral work. “If you ever have students looking to do a research study, I would welcome the investigation.” Shortly afterwards, two doctoral students stepped forward.
By this time, I had been touring around the country accumulating names of therapists who were interested in participating in research. (I was hopeful that it would happen one day!) At one point in time, I had 5 different therapists in 5 different states on board for the advancement of occupational science. Ultimately, several had to drop out for various professional reasons, but we were left with two good candidates with two divergent populations. One was a rural school district in upstate New York. The second was an urban setting in Worcester, Massachusetts.
All together, there were 217 students. Each school included grades Kindergarten, first and second. Each had a control and an intervention group. New York used a convenience sample to assign groupings. Massachusetts’s classrooms were assigned randomly right before the study started.
Three different standardized or norm referenced tests were used. Everyone took the Beery Buktenica Test of Visual-Motor Integration, commonly known as the VMI. All grades also took the Test of Handwriting Skills-Revised (THS-R). Both of these are standardized assessments. The THS-R was adapted with writing lines since the premise of the program was the primacy of letter size. The third test was the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment. It is a criterion-referenced test and was only normed for the later half of first grade and for second grade. The assessments were administered three times.
This was a 12-week protocol. Baseline testing marked Week One. Pretests of the same tests were administered two weeks later (i.e. Week Three) to insure that normal development didn’t produce an unexpected change or spike. Treatment therefore began Week Four. Eight weeks of daily intervention followed ending in Week Eleven. Post testing happened on Week Twelve.
With a limited intervention period, the scope was similarly limited. Kindergarten covered the upper case alphabet. First grade focused on the lower case letters. Second grade learned upper and lower case. There was no time to teach numbers.
In brief, the results from nearly every measure of the THS-R and the MHA show significant improvements at a .001 level from pretest to post test for the students participating in the Size Matters Handwriting Program. That means that there was a 99.9% chance that the change happened because of the intervention. Only spacing… which had not been addressed, showed comparable change between the control and treatment group. And rate… which was measurably slower for the treatment group, a finding that the site managers attributed to the intense concentration the treatment group students had on making their letters touch the writing lines in all the right places.
5. Can you tell us more about the core concepts of Size Matters Handwriting Program?
There are 8 Key Concepts.
1. Writing Lines, Go Lines and Finish Lines. This is a plain vanilla program. Just the same, we want everyone to be on the same page, using the same terminology from the get-go. Towards that end, we name the writing lines as Top, Dotted or Middle, and Bottom Lines.
Go Lines are green lines that mark the left side of the page (or desk). Finish Lines are checkerboard lines that indicate the direction writing must proceed toward. Both lines are also referenced in the formation of some letters, as the lines used to make them may either move ‘forward’ as in, toward the Finish Line, or ‘backward’ as in toward the Go Line. As children become more familiar with the left to right directionality of writing, these lines morph into left and right margin lines, respectively.
2. Letter Lines. There are 6 different ones pictured by icons that simulate their directional movement.
a. Standing Tall Lines are vertical lines. Older children can simply call them vertical lines. They typically move downward and can be big or small.
b. Lying Down Lines are also called horizontal lines. Their movement is typically forward.
c. Slant Lines, also known as diagonal lines can move forward or backward. They can also vary in size from big to small.
d. Super C Lines are always initial lines. They too can be big or small and are important enough to warrant status as a Key Concept by themselves. (See Concept #3)
e. Smiles and Frowns. These lines can move forward or backward.
f. Clock Lines. Imagine rounding an analogue clock from 12 to 6, or counterclockwise from 6 to 12. Either way, you are moving forward first.
3. Super C. This Letter Line is elevated to a Key Concept because of his importance is warding off reversals. Super C is a superhero whose image appears throughout the Student Workbook, poster series and other educational materials.
4. Starting Points and Initial Lines. The Size Matters Handwriting Program is not a font. Rather, it is a way to teach printing so students acquire the consistency that distinguishes their written work as readable. In time, everyone stylizes their letters to suit their needs anyway; there is no need to teach it. So, to make it as easy as possible to acquire the uniformity of size, we teach that all letters start on a line… that is the Top or Dotted Line. (FYI….The two exceptions, lower case e and lower case f are not mentioned until we get up to them.)
Initial lines are the first Letter Lines emanating from the Starting Points.
5. Touching. This kinesthetic experience is the way we describe the intersection between Letter Lines and Writing Lines or Letter Lines and other Letter Lines. If there is any air between them, they are NOT touching. There also cannot be a protrusion through to the other side of the Writing Line or Letter Line. Touching is a gentle touch.
Touching is so important that we actually count the number of Touch Points. In fact, students are encouraged to identify all the Touch Points to determine whether or not they’ve earned Stars… our next concept.
6. Stars and Dice. Stars are currency in the Size Matters Handwriting Program. Earning stars is a function of making letters the right size and of leaving equally sized spacing within and between letters and words. Stars for Letter Size are earned by touching the writing lines in all the right places. Children (or adults) can easily score accuracy by noting whether the letter lines have made a clean ‘Touch.’ Scores for Size are tabulated by counting all the letters printed and placing that number in the denominator. Next, the number of letters earning stars is placed in the numerator. One, two, quick… DATA!
Spacing scores are equally simple. Stars are awarded to all single ‘inside’ (aka Spaghetti) spaces and all equally sized ‘outside’ (aka Meatball spaces). Add up the number of potential spaces, placing that total in the denominator. Starred Spaghetti and Meatball spaces go in the numerator. Once again, quick data.
The Dice Game determines practice. If letters are the wrong size, or if they are the correct size but made the wrong way (e.g. using the wrong letter line or starting at the bottom), students roll dice. Whatever number is displayed becomes the number of times the student has to reprint that letter and make it Star-Worthy. If a child rolls a 5, s/he has to make 5 Star-Worthy letters. If s/he prints 5 letters but only 3 are Star-Worthy, they still have some printing to do. If s/he rolls a one, they only have to make one. But it had better be a good one!!
Dice are a fun and yet powerful way to place control in the hands of the students. It is a great way to build the buy-in and carryover we want from both students and teachers.
7. Letter Size. This is the biggie. Experience has shown that correcting errors in letter size makes the biggest difference in the consistency and therefore readability of the written page. And the research proves it.
The reasons for this are simple. There are only three different letter sizes. Instead of focusing on the 62 letter or number forms, students are instructed to concentrate on following 3 simple Rules. The Rules for Letter Size come packaged as a song and dance. To wit, they are:
Size One Letters:
They have to touch the Top Line.
They have to touch the Bottom Line.
They can’t go higher.
They can’t go lower.
And they can’t float in the middle.
All upper case letters are Size One. So are 7 lower case letters including: b d f h k l t
Size Two Letters:
They have to touch the Dotted Line.
They have to touch the Bottom Line.
They can’t go higher.
They can’t go lower.
And they can’t float in the middle.
There are 14 Size Two letters, including:
a c e i m n o r s u v w x z
Size Three Letters:
They have to touch the Dotted Line.
They have to go below the Bottom Line.
They can’t go higher.
They must go lower.
And if they have a belly (like g p q y), it has to
touch the Bottom Line.
There are only 5 Size Three letters—g j p q y
8. Spaghetti and Meatballs.
This is the visual we use to describe spacing within words and spacing between words.
Inside a word, there should be room for only a single strand of spaghetti. Since we are essentially talking about ‘nothing,’ (which is what space is), I color it in so the concept is more visible… literally. When we work on spaghetti spaces, I actually draw yellow lines between the letters inside of a word. If there is still room, I keep drawing lines. I want students to see how close their letters need to be to earn a star. That is… a single spaghetti space apart.
When we talk about the spaces in between words, I draw round red Meatballs. The meatballs should all be the same size. No meatloaves, please. Students earn a free meatball if they don’t crowd the right margin line and align their writing down the left margin line.
Don’t focus on Spacing until you get 80% accuracy on Size. It’s too much to think about at once. Get Letter Size under control first… and you will. Then score children’s printing for both.
6. How did you determine the efficacy and success rate of the program?
Statistics aficionados will appreciate this next fact.
The SPSS version 19 was used to quantify the demographic information and compare change scores. This is the latest version for social sciences. A statistician working with the Occupational Therapy department at Temple University made the executive decisions on the appropriate formulas, analyzed the data, wrote the companion part for the journal article and developed the reference tables.
For the rest of us who are not statistic majors, the gist was that there were no significant differences between either of the groups, control or intervention, New York versus Massachusetts, grade for grade, or test to test, going into the study. In other words, it was a level playing field within the study even though uniformly across both schools and all grades, the children participating in the study started out with poorer scores on the Minnesota than the normative population.
The posttest scores however showed hugely significant differences. As a brief refresher, remember that significance is measure in p scores. P < .05 means that there was a 95% chance that change happened because of the intervention. P < .01 means that there was a 99% chance that change happened because of the intervention. And P < .001 means that there was a 99.9% chance that change happened because of the intervention… the closest a statistician will ever come to saying that there is direct causal relationship.
And yet P < .001 was the change score difference for the intervention groups over the control groups for all grades for most measures of the THS and MHA with the exception of spacing which showed a similar change from pre to post for both groups, and rate which should a significant decrease in performance for the treatment group.
Interestingly, the site managers at both locations reported that the treatment groups students were notably slower during the post testing because they were so deliberate in making sure that their letters were touching the writing lines in all the right places.
Talk about over-learning.
We contend that the rate difference would even out over time. But in the meantime, those are some POWERFUL DIFFERENCES!!!
7. Who is eligible to get training and how can they get it?
Everyone. This includes Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants, teachers, aides, parents and administrators. As an approved provider of continuing education through AOTA, I can give credits to participants for the hours in attendance.
Educational content comes packaged in a variety of formats. Both self-study and Live webinars enable participants to learn more about the Size Matters Handwriting Program in the comfort of their own homes. Contact www.realOTsolutions.com for a listing of live dates and to enroll. The webinar series are in 3 parts during which participants can earn at least .7 Continuing Education Unit credits.
Schools, OT groups and private practices are also welcome to host a workshop. I am frequently touring the country to speak, teach, and consult with therapists. If this is something you would like to arrange, write to bev@realOTsolutions.com
The website itself has a few instructional videos and blogs. Scroll through the product pages and the various blog tabs.
Plus I am always happy to correspond with anyone who is interested. As a product and service business, I especially look forward to the latter. I’ve happily lost count of the number of therapists I mentor across the country. After 38+ years, this turn in my professional career is a pleasure and an honor.
8. What general tips can you give OTs working on handwriting remediation?
a. Focus on Size. Score for letter size.
Teach students how to score themselves. This last part is like giving children the answers to the test. In fact, when conducting a Size Matters lesson at the board or on their paper, make as many ‘bad’ letters as possible. ‘Bad’ letters defy the Rules, use the wrong Letter Lines, have funky-looking parts or are reversed. The letters may actually look like the intended letter…which is what your children may already be making. Ask the children if you have printed a Star-Worthy letter, and why it is or it isn’t. Critical analysis is an important component of the program. Besides, you know that there is nothing your students like more than telling a grown-up they screwed up.
b. Be realistic. Readability and functionality are the goals.
We are not entering any handwriting contests. We do however, need to make sure that children can complete assignments, take notes, handwrite messages, fill in forms, keep pace with their classmates, and finally… have all of the above read back by teachers, peers, parents and themselves alike.
c. Empower your teachers and students with the Rules.
Encourage the say them, sing them, add the hand movements and more, all day every day. But like a record repeating in their heads, the Rules give them concrete guidelines to judge their own printing.
d. Turn students on to The Dice Game.
It is so simple, yet so effective, especially once they know that dice determines practice. Instruct the teacher to walk around with dice in his or her hand during any and all writing assignments. The audible clinking of the die reminds children to ‘Think Letter Size.’ Periodically, a teacher could stop by a student’s desk and ask him to critique a letter. Of course, they should only ask students to critique a letter(s) already been taught and practiced. If the letter is printed the wrong size, ask the student “What size is this letter?” And what’s the Rule?” At that point in time, the teacher could present the die, and to allow the student to select a die that is ‘Calling their name.” Then, at the bottom of the page, the back of the paper or on another piece of paper entirely, the child could practice making that letter (or word) Star-Worthy.
I always encourage teachers to focus on the assignment. We OTs must appreciate that they have a curriculum to follow. But in this way, the children are reminded to print their letters the correct size.
And believe me… if you stop one student, his classmates are similarly alerted. They could be next!!
e. Offer low tech options than enable them to model accurate letter sizes.
Like adapted writing paper scanned into Smartboards, writing lines on the wipe-off whiteboards or permanent lines on any board. Encourage them to buy a Magnetic Rectasquare Board and to use it when introducing vocabulary for any literacy, social studies, science or even math lesson.
f. Provide samples of various grade levels of adapted writing paper.
Get children excited about graduating to a higher grade level paper because they are making their letters the right size.
g. Share how handwriting sensibility can be embedded into their curriculum.
Let’s be honest. Our children are growing up in an era of instantaneous networking. The need to communicate and the demand to do so in a timely manner will dominate our students preferred options down the road. Just the same, there will always be a need to print, even if it is in limited quantities. Our goal needs to be functional legible printing. Teachers are our partners. We are on their turf. Respect the fact they have a full plate already. Share materials and strategies that are doable within their already busy days.
9. What practical tips can you give parents who want to help their children with handwriting?
- Be there. Habits form quickly. Poor or inefficient ones are hard to change once they have become ingrained. If parents are willing to work on handwriting with their children, they must sit next to them and watch their pencil movements. Intercede immediately and often.
- Use key phrases like ‘Touching’ to note the intersection of a Letter Line with a Writing Line or a Letter Line with another Letter Line. Learn how to score accuracy so you can teach you children. Self-monitoring is a huge incentive. It makes kids feel valued and smart. Help them feel smart by making sure you and they know the Rules.
- Preview. This means talking about writing before actually writing. Ask questions like “Where are you going to start?” Or “What size is that letter?” Or “What’s the Rule for Size One letters.”
- Start slow. Teach the Size One letters first, upper then lower case. Only hold your child accountable for the letters you’ve taught and mastered.
- Don’t focus on spacing until you have 80% accuracy on Letter Size.
- Offer near point visual cues for Letter Size and near point propped samples for copying.
10. Can OTs working with the adult/older adult population (stroke, TBI) use this program as well or is it mainly designed for children?
Interestingly, while SMHP was originated for pediatric populations, the structure, simplicity and intelligence of the program make it ideal for adults suffering from motor or cognitive impairments. Aside from the Kindergarten workbook, there is a maturity in the Rules and other concepts that enable older patients to work on printing without feeling juvenalized.
Check out the adapted writing paper Journal Books. They have a sophisticated look about them, starting with the cover design. More importantly, the writing lines inside are graded into smaller units with thick bottom lines and/or right and left margin lines. These give the writers the needed structure to be successful.
11. Can you highlight a few of your products that can be used in conjunction with the program?
1) The Student Workbook is a Kindergarten level book.
We don’t write that anywhere on the book since there are often students in higher grades who are working at that level. It presents one letter at a time on adapted writing lines, introducing the concepts of Go Lines and Finish Lines which later morph into left and right margins, respectively.
2) The Activity Book series is more practice.
These are 18 child-sized booklets with 15 pages of fun perceptual, motor and cognitive challenges, along with more letter practice inside white letterboxes. The sequence complements the Student Workbook and builds on previous letters taught and practiced.
3) The Poster series include 6 lessons about the concepts in an attractive 12 X 18” display.
These were the only visual reference used by the first and second graders in the research study.
4) The Letterbox Worksheets include 2 wipe-off books.
The first covers the upper case alphabet. The second covers the lower case and numbers. This is a preschool level series and introduces students to the Size Matters concepts.
5) Path Ways is a prewriting series.
The 6 books in this series follow the VMI sequence of lines and shapes considered indicators of printing readiness.
6) The Magnetic Rectasquare Board is a great way to embed handwriting sensibility into the entire school day.
Its writing lines and colored magnets are perfect for graphing vocabulary from literacy, social studies, science, math texts, reminding students to think letter size.
7) The Dice Game.
We have an assortment of 24 dice in varying numbers of facets from 4-sided to 20 sided and varying finishes from opaque to iridescent. I often tell the children to pick out a die that is calling their name. It’s another way to give them a say in their practice.
8) Adapted Writing Paper.
From a Master Guide of over 100 different papers suitable for copying, to individual writing packs, lined labels, and Journal Books, the writing paper is some of the cleanest on the market. What distinguishes one grade level of paper from the next is the distance between the sets of writing lines. They get closer as the grades get higher. Also, our bottom lines are thicker because stopping is harder than starting.
Among the many sound bites, self-scoring possibilities and other materials that enable the Size Matters Handwriting Program to be embedded into the curriculum is the incentive to ‘graduate’ to a higher grade level paper once students start making their letters the right size. Imagine a first grader who is demonstrating consistency of Size One, Two and Three letters using adapted first grade writing paper. S/he could be publicly praised for her careful attention to the writing lines and promoted to second grade paper. Wow! His or her classmates would also like to feel like big kids…. and they can…. once they demonstrate a similar differentiation of letter size. This is a huge motivator.
This 3-sided desktop references puts important information on letter size and sound-symbol correspondence within the child’s line of vision. An exact 12” with an inch scale on one facet, it serves equally well as a straight-edge or ruler. Printed on an bright white PVC plastic, it can not be written on nor scratched off. This is a great near-point reference that children may actually use. Plus, when they’re done, it can be easily stored inside the desk or back on the windowsill until the next writing activity.
12. Can you tell us more about the assessment protocol/tool in this program and the scoring, if any?
There are several different documentation options. The Intake is our initial assessment. Progress Monitoring Forms A and B are ongoing data collection rubrics.
The Intake is criterion-referenced and incorporates the tenets of the OT Practice Framework and other aspects of Best Practices. It is divided into 2 parts: the Point of View Survey and Performance Skills and Patterns. The first part is a subjective 3-tiered Likert Scale. It compares the perceptions the student, the teacher and/or the evaluator have of the state of handwriting. It is an excellent launching pad for determining treatment, especially if the opinions of the student and teacher are divergent.
Performance Skills and Patterns measure printing according to Letter Size, Copying Accuracy and Spacing. It also includes observational notes on pencil grips, types of writing paper currently used in the classroom, organizational skills, contributing learning/emotion/sensory issues and more.
The Intake is currently undergoing Reliability and Validity Testing.
The Progress Monitoring Forms are rubrics printed on the top and bottom halves on both sides of folded card stock paper. They enable scores to be quickly tracked multiple times over a period of months.
13. What can OT educators do differently when teaching concepts of handwriting remediation to OT students?
In this day and age, we have to be realists and we have to be practical. First, OT educators must share with students interested in working in schools that we are not primary service providers. Rather, we are related services. Also, we are not there to let everyone know how diverse and capable our talents are. School-based OT is about helping students access their educational program, participate fully within the school setting, and reach their educational potential. Therapists need to be prepared to check their egos at the door. School settings are truly about everyone else, not us. We are there to promote the match between the child and the teacher, the child and the instruction, and the child and the environment. At all times, we must remain focus on the educational objectives and not on remediating deficits or reducing impairments.
Toward that end, the handwriting goal needs to be functional legibility. We’re not overseeing calligraphy classes. Nor should we be sweating the small stuff. If students continue to have funky grips beyond first grade but their printing is legible, let it go. If their letters start at the bottom but they still create recognizable letters, give it a rest. If they use the wrong letter lines, but the letter sizes are accurate, it is still going to be readable. If they continue to require near point visual cues to be reminded of letter shapes, give them one. And if the rely on a dotted middle line to consistently maintain Size Two letters, provide adapted paper at the proper level.
Remember that accommodations and modifications are appropriate recommendations. Also know that the ability to demonstrate knowledge can include a range of low tech to high tech options, with a pencil being a viable low tech one. Above all, know that your position in the schools is as much to learn and it is to teach. Collaboration will enable you to better understand what is needed for success. And that only by following the teacher’s lead will you be able to gain the respect, the cooperation and the carryover of your methods and strategies.
14. Final Words/ Website Links
This is not a difficult program, but it is a different one. And here is more good news. I’m here to help. Explore on your own through the following links, or contact me directly.
https://realotsolutions.com Products, education, research articles and related documents, blogs and more are a click away. Read About Us. Shop. Contact me. Enjoy.
https://realotsolutions.com/pages/professional-development This is the direct link to the webinars, conference schedule, and workshops that you can bring to your location. Clarification Point on accessibility, cancellation, satisfactory completion requirements, copyrights etc. are available through a hot link. Learning objectives are also a click away.
In conclusion, I must relay my gratitude to June and Rey for opening this forum to me so I could share the Size Matters Handwriting Program with their readers.