OT Corner: Handwriting Tips for Older Students – Posters!
by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L
One summer, I came across a remarkable fourth-grade student who desperately wanted to increase her speed with cursive. We’ll call her Mary. When I assessed her handwriting skills, I discovered that her letter formations were superb, but she certainly attained that perfection at the expense of speed. We spent the summer building that skill and we were both thrilled with her progress.
But, the next summer, her parents came to me with their concern that, although she could produce legible and speedy handwriting, she was unable to construct a book report independently. It was evident to me that my work had not ended with handwriting skills. Functionality depended upon her ability to convey her knowledge through a handwritten product. After years of struggling with speed, my little gal had not achieved the requisite skills for creating content with her brain while she was using her hands to write. That summer turned my business focus from practice to function!
A strategy to move from practice to function
Book reports have been a part of students’ education since the beginning of time! Well, it seems that way, doesn’t it? Mary shied away from them not because they required handwriting but because they demanded her to use her handwriting and creativity together to develop a story of her own. As I reviewed her needs, I focused upon the fact that handwriting and writing are both complex skills that rely heavily upon gross-motor, fine-motor, visual perceptual, and cognitive skills. It was important to understand that older students who are continuing to master their use of handwriting to create written work do not benefit from simply having to write more book reports! So, I decided to address her parents’ concerns, while adding a little zing to her sessions, with a mix of creativity that included movement, fine motor, and visual perceptual skills!
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