It is a pleasure to share this research-tested and effective method for teaching and remediating handwriting. These short blog posts follow the SMHP webinar series, an introductory level course, and is appropriate for any therapist, teacher, or parent who wants fast, real and lasting changes in handwriting. If you would like to take the webinar series, you can order all 3-parts at realOTsolutions.com, and earn .7 CEUs.
If you’d like to learn as you go… let’s get started.
I am Beverly Moskowitz, the author of the Size Matters® Handwriting Program and the author of these blogs. Periodically, we will have Guest Bloggers contribute content in a subject area of related interest. Additionally, I will digress into topics related to other areas related to school practice.
If you would like to continue the conversation or ask questions, please write to me at bev@realOTsolutions.com or call 877-864-2010.
The Size Matters® Handwriting Program is not a hard program to learn, but it is a different one. I want you to feel comfortable with the research and concepts, implementation options, data collection, and more.
So, let’s begin with a simple question… “Do you have any students with handwriting difficulties?” (And isn’t that why we’re here?)
I’ve got bad news for you. It’s not going to get any better. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed… school districts are out of money. It’s a sad but true national epidemic. Budgetary cutbacks have impacted schools from urban to rural settings. Curricular decisions are based on test scores and whether more time is needed to bring students to proficiency levels. Whatever funding might be forthcoming is not interrupted.
Teachers reported not having the background to teach handwriting. Aside from not being a priority subject, without the insights to know why or how to teach printing effectively, many teachers often pass out printing worksheets as a free time activity, homework or independent study when students are done other work. Unfortunately, that can actually do more harm than good. And you know, that once students habituate patterns of pencil grip or letter formation in younger grades, they are really difficult to change.
Lastly, the school day is already full. To their credit, teachers are so busy trying to satisfy all the state and federal mandates that they are plainly out of time. I call this the REAL STATE OF THE UNION. No Child Left Behind, All Children can Succeed, or any incarnation of the above left a lot of curriculum behind… handwriting being one of them.
So it is with great pleasure that I bring to you this exciting new program because it was developed with all of these realities in mind. The Size Matters® Handwriting Program, also known as SMHP, has only been around since 2010, but it is already in every state and international. Started as an intervention for special needs children, it has been proven effective in regular education classes, too. Next up… a little background.
How did the Size Matters® Handwriting Program come into being?
It started back in the 1990s. As a school-based therapist like many of you, I was deluged with handwriting referrals. I pulled out all the stops employing my knowledge of development, dexterity, perception and more, including utilizing popular instructional programs with all the workbooks and supplemental materials…. All to try to get a handle on the issues and to promote legibility.
The problem was… I couldn’t ever get these kids off my caseload. So… I started toying with variables that seem to have the greatest impact on printing constancy… and happened upon… LETTER SIZE.
Once I simplified the goal in therapy to making letters of consistent size… the overall appearance of the written page changed immediately and drastically. Kids caught on really quickly. In fact, the special ed kids became the neatest printers in the school.
And how did I know that? Because teachers would hang their completed papers in the hallways.
It became such a noticeable difference that when I’d walk the hallways, you could see a marked improvement between the classrooms whose students had been taught about letter size and those that hadn’t. So, I began a little experiment. I started putting my toe into regular education classes, asking the teachers if I could give a 20-minute Size Matters® lesson to their students.
No kidding. That’s it. 20, maybe 30 minutes. And here’s what happened.
Teachers would say to me, “Bev, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’ll never teach another method again.” One teacher even reported that a parent called to confess having scolded her daughter for being so irresponsible in bringing home someone else’s assignment book. After just one lesson, she didn’t recognize her own daughter’s handwriting.
So that began the process of formalizing, conceptualizing and testing my methods. This is not rocket science. Neither is it a difficult program nor a complicated one. But it is a different one. As we like to say, regarding The Size Matters® Handwriting Program, that when it comes to neat printing… Size Matters®!
Why do we consider the Size Matters® Handwriting Program
- A paradigm shift
- Fiscally and environmentally responsible
- Flexible and adaptable
- A tribute to the OT Practice Framework
- A reflection of best practices.
SMHP is a CONCEPT-driven program. Not a workbook-driven one.
That alone is a paradigm shift from any other program you’ve encountered. All other programs involve workbooks for every student for every grade for every year. That’s a huge expense for districts. But the truth is… you don’t need any materials at all to do this program. Certainly, when I was developing it, I didn’t have anything either excepting for the things that I would make up as I went along. and so can you.
During the course of reading these blogs, you will be able to implement a very effective Size Matters Handwriting Program in your schools with the concepts alone. The materials have since made it easier, faster, and a lot of fun. But part of the beauty of the program is that you can get started right away with only your knowledge. If you know the concepts, you, your teachers and your parents can implement the Size Matters Handwriting program… effective TODAY! Over the series of blogs, I’m going to share why size should matter to you.