THE GOAL: to handwrite with maximum legibility at maximum speed
Action Kids Therapy assists children, parents and teachers to apply a comprehensive and innovative handwriting program which uses time-tested methods of handwriting instruction. The goal is to provide our clients with handwriting that develops legibility at age-appropriate speed for young children, older students and adults.
There are two essentials that form the base for fluent handwriting, posture and rhythmic movement. Posture is not just the way one stands or sits, it also has to do with holding and using writing tools. Only relaxed hands and fingers can develop the ability to write legibly at satisfactory speed. Success in later years depends on the right beginning.
It’s serious business to learn this skill. It involves mastering the different shapes of 62 characters, lowercase, uppercase and numerals. Yet learning to write well should be pleasurable. Action Kids Therapy starts out with pre-writing activities that train hands and fingers to move easily through the characters. It works! Fortunately, the “work” is playful.
Handwriting is a motor skill like any other we do with our hands. To learn to play a violin, one first learns posture, how to position the instrument and use the hands and fingers. The same is true for the aspiring chef using knives, the carpenter who wields a hammer, or for one learning to play golf. A surgeon will be focused intently on his task, but the hold on instruments is relaxed, practiced and sure.
Rhythm is in the hands, fingers and mind as characters form. At least it should be! We start with three simple, letter related patterns. They are so much easier to write than the many diverse shapes of the 64 characters. And, children can make pictures out of them!
Short and frequent handwriting instruction is ideal. Time spent in the early years greatly reduces classroom time later. Basic letter formations that children learn become cursive italic in a relatively short time. Kids who spend just ten to fifteen minutes each time they practice will be amazed at how little time it takes to acquire fluent handwriting.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLDER KIDS AND ADULTS?
Do you consider your handwriting chicken scratch? Or, maybe you write clearly when you go slow, but you need to write faster. Then does it fall apart? Action Kids Therapy employs a comprehensive handwriting program to guide you to handwriting that works. You may, or may not develop “beautiful handwriting," but you will write legibly and faster.
It helps to understand that your handwriting issues are not likely to reflect a personal defect. When you first learned to write, two essentials may have been overlooked: posture and rhythm. They play equal roles in the development of legibility at satisfactory speed. Posture refers to the way you hold your pen or pencil, as well as to the position of the rest of your body. Rhythmic movement gives flow, consistency and automaticity to the formation of alphanumeric characters.
Consider any physical skill that you have learned, sports, music, maybe carpentry. You learned a specific posture, and how to effectively manipulate your body, a tool or instrument. Handwriting is another physical activity for which you need a certain posture and movement to efficiently transport the message in your mind onto paper.
You may not have been taught these essentials of handwriting. You may have first learned to print upper and lowercase letters that start strokes at their tops. Then you may have been introduced to conventional cursive where most lowercase letters start on the baseline, and uppercase letters change form markedly. It became necessary to change your habits of movement from those stiff, little print-script strokes to movements that are quite different. Some students manage the change; for others it's disaster!
Perhaps you learned conventional cursive only. At least you did not undo habits and then retrain them. No doubt you were told to join every letter in each word. That works in short words, but is difficult in multi-syllabic words. In longer words the hand drags along and pulls letters off the baseline and changes their shapes, sizes and slants. In the 19th century when this method was taught, the pen hold was different: the hand did not touch the paper. The whole arm guided the pen with movement from the shoulder. Only the tips of the ring and little fingers touched the writing surface. Now most of us write with hand and finger movement. To avoid letter distortion the pen needs to drift off the paper occasionally.
Here is a list of common handwriting problems experienced by older children and adults:
1) Overall posture: sitting position, pen hold and paper placement.
2) Proper ductus. Remember that handy, but obscure word because it refers to the sequence and direction of strokes that form letters and numerals.
3) Spacing between letters, words and lines.
4) Uneven or excessive letter slant.
5) Uneven or excessive letter size, too large or too small.
6) Letters crammed into the right margin.
7) Numerals and math symbols poorly aligned.
8) Failure to stay on the baseline.
9) Overlapping writing lines; strokes of one letter run through another.
10) Descenders tangle with the ascenders on the next line of writing.
Action Kids Therapy addresses all these and more via a structured, traditional writing program that works.
(Ages 4 to 94)
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