As I stated in my previous blog, handwriting can be taught in several different ways, depending upon your child’s teacher as well as the curriculum within the school. If your child’s school does not utilize the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) program, you can gain many successful strategies and knowledge from the HWT website. As you will see below, HWT follows three developmental stages in order to best teach children how to legibly and successfully form their letters.
- Imitation: First, the parent or teacher should demonstrate the letter formation and then the child can imitate.
- Copying: The child is to reproduce the letter/word by looking at the letter/word (e.g. The teacher writes the word on the wipe-off board and then the student looks at the board and copies the word onto her paper).
- Independent Writing: The child writes the letter/word without having a demonstration or a model to reference to; the child is expected to write the letter/word from memory (e.g. A child’s weekly spelling test).
Overall, when teaching handwriting, it is crucial to provide your child with plenty of verbal and visual cues to help the child in memorizing the appearance and feel of the letters. Try using the developmental stages above along with a variety of tools when practicing handwriting with your child (e.g. chalk/chalkboard; write letters or words in flour or sand; and form letters using Wiki sticks). By making handwriting fun and motivating for your child, he or she will be more likely to want to practice with you at home. Please speak with your child’s occupational therapist if you would like more information on Jan Olsen’s Handwriting Without Tears Program.