Our weekly "Mini Charmers" preschool class gets to play with lots of messy sensory activities that encourage handwriting preparation. Yep, thats right. Work on handwriting without doing handwriting. In the studio, we had a few centers going at once.
Our first center was the cornstarch tubs. Lots of gooey cornstarch, mixed with water, washable paint and small things thrown in. Kids were Encouraged to find and pull out everything they could find-- from frogs to tiny perler beads. The cornstarch is resistive, so this works the finger muscles. The activity also encourages tactile processing as children have to distinguish between textures.
Another preparatory center was our "N" and "M" activity. They cut the big lines out of magazines and placed them on the construction paper. Building letters is a great reinforcer for visual memory of letters and for the stroke too. We use Handwriting Without Tears curriculum so there are lots of building and writing inside of boxes and with consistent language.
In another center were our clothespin activities. Miss. Kelly and the OT students made these foam sea creatures, etc, a few minutes before class. Kids loved adding legs and candles!
Then, we always have our group direct handwriting instruction for our letters of the week. These kids are laying on their stomachs as it increases core strength and helps their forearms and hands be in the correct position. You can see that these 4 years olds are writing their letters very well and independently. These are some bright Charlotte kids!
Cursive is rarely taught in schools now and as a result children have to rely on manuscript to get them through written work. Cursive handwriting increases writing speed, fluency, increases validity of ownership, and reduces energy for the task of writing. I am stunned by the number of children that not only cannot write in cursive but cannot read cursive. The neurological process of handwriting is very sophisticated. Several academic studies report that consistent handwriting instruction doubled children' writing output. In addition, recent literature says that only 15% of kids wrote SAT essays in cursive. Those 15% of cursive writing children scored slightly higher than those who used manuscript. Read the article here. If your child wants help learning cursive in a fun way, please reach out to us!
About the blogger: Stephanie Wick is a pediatric occupational therapist that founded and is lead O.T. at Learning Charms.
Read past Blog here