Handwriting is visual and kinesthetic. (You connect the picture of the word with the movement it takes to create it.) Many kinesthetics couldn’t care less how their writing looks, and their writing shows this.
Legibility is the first issue. Both the child and the parent must be able to read the writing. Because the child is just learning to read, many suggest that handwriting look like the fonts seen in early readers’ books. This means that you would print without loops or serifs on your letters. (These loops often get entangled with one another, decreasing legibility.)
The second issue is the transition from printing to cursive, which often has three concerns: how the letter is formed, how much of a slope change do the cursive letters have, and the number of letters that change shape from printed to cursive. Again, the fewer changes, the easier it is to teach. (Getty Dubay and Handwriting Without Tears, which appear to be the programs with the least changes, seem to be preferred by kinesthetic families.)
Some ideas to keep in mind for the handwriting lessons:
1. Give positive feedback
2. Keep the lessons short
3. Vary the exercises or lesson format at times
4. Chart progress
Handwriting Lesson Variations:
Visual learners will enjoy writing as ART. Let them choose the implements, material and media. Use all different methods to practice handwriting, from card making to lettering a fancy sign for their rooms. Use colors, styles, and sizes that appeal to them. Try paper that is colored or textured or graphed.
Use a variety of writing materials: calligraphy pens, gel pens, markers, tubes of fabric paint, pencils, cake decorating tubes, chalk or even paint and brushes. Let them use an easel, dry erase board, or the driveway. Go big with paintbrushes and rolls of butcher paper or go tiny with extra fine pens and write a mini book. Do craft projects associated with whatever letters they are learning (glue beans, yarn or glitter on the letters).
For kinesthetic children, the feel of the pen on the writing medium grabs their attention. Also standing or moving while writing helps keep their attention. Try a tray (or plate) of salt, fingers in paint, or fingers in a tray of sand (preferably colored sand). Try writing in the dirt with sticks, or in a tray of corn meal, or something tasty like dry gelatin or granulated sugar, rice, or a thin layer of pudding or yogurt.
Once you are beyond letter formation and into writing words you might consider the Cursive Bag (See below). If you place a page of handwriting under the gel bag it will make it easy to trace an adult’s writing first, then write the same word(s) below.
Allow children to watercolor paint the outside of a sliding glass door. You print for them on the inside (letters, words, sentences, Bible verses) and they can copy them outside. You can also have a graffiti wall (covered with butcher paper and with a colored marker attached to it.)
In general, don’t call it penmanship – call it art, a fun break or making secret messages.
Cursive Bag By Kama Einhorn
Practice handwriting on this squishy, erasable, and easy-to-make surface.21
What to do:
1. Squirt a bit of hair gel (about the size of a large marble) into the plastic bag.
2. Add several drops of food coloring. Mix up the gel and food coloring by massaging the bag to make a colored “slate.” Seal the bag, making sure there is no air trapped inside.
3. Finger-trace letters and words in cursive (using your fingertips) onto this fun writing surface.
4. Experiment with different amounts of gel. Depending on how much is inside and how evenly it is distributed, letters may disappear soon after they are made or stay until they are “erased.”
Shaving Cream Writing
What you need:
• Foil or wax paper
• Can of shaving cream
What to do:
1. Lay out wax paper or tin foil on a work counter, kitchen table or large cookie sheet so that it’s nice and flat.
2. Let the kids spray a large pile of shaving cream onto the area. Have them spread out the cream and practice their writing skills. This activity will be very helpful with fine motor skills, and those visual and tactile learners will benefit from this. The more senses you use, the more you learn.
3. Do this activity to practice letters, writing words, writing cursive, writing numbers, and doing addition. Make learning fun!
As a medical doctor, author, and homeschooler, Stephen Guffanti, M.D., offers a unique background and tremendous insight, and communicates with warmth and humor. Not only is Stephen a physician, but he’s also dyslexic and ADHD, and from this unusual perspective he brings hope and understanding to families. Born with a passion for education as well as medicine, Dr. Steve has served as the medical director of a clinic specializing in learning disorders and has studied nutrition and its effects on learning.
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