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Written communication can be one of the most enjoyable means of self expression.

For most, learning to print is the first step in doing so.  Children learn the skill of coordinating their eyes and hands through play in early childhood development.  As children begin to use crayons, scissors and other tools during drawing, coloring, cutting and similar craft activities they are gaining valuable experience with using their hands in different ways to create art.  Squiggles turn into lines, smudges into circles and combining the two forms the child’s first stick person drawing, a proud achievement indeed.  With further development these basic shapes and designs are transformed into letters.  Printing our name for the first time is certainly a cause for celebration.

Practice Practice Practice!

In school, written communication is used in most subjects throughout a students’ day from spelling tests to writing in their agenda.

Practicing the same patterns over and over when learning to print can be a frustrating experience for some children.  Certainly, it can be boring and not very memorable.   Some students may find holding and moving their pencil challenging possibly indicating that fine motor skills may need to be targeted.  They are instinctively aware that their letters and numbers do not look the same as what the teacher has drawn or is on their worksheet.  For others, the task of teaming their hands with their eyes (visual-motor skills) to draw letters that touch the lines, slope in the correct direction and are properly connected together seems daunting.

First Steps

  • Along with consultation with families and educational staff Pediatric Occupational Therapists visit with students to observe their printing skills to determine what area(s) may be affecting performance.  Assessments can be informal (observations, sample review) or formal using specific tests (e.g. printing, visual motor integration) to identify strengths and challenges.

Strategies

  • Developing strategies for a student is based on their learning style(s), personal interests and routines at home.  For example, the student who best learns “hands-on” may be given alternative ways to practice forming letters.  Worksheets for kids don’t have to be typical pencil on paper exercises to be effective.  Printing letters in a sand tray, shaving cream etc. using their fingers may a “memorable” way to reinforce letter concepts.
  • At home, practical strategies are incorporated into daily activities to fit with busy schedules.  There are a variety of printing programs available and we often choose and pass along favorite teaching methods and activities from these programs that students have enjoyed in the past.  Our intention is to provide strategies that are interesting and achievable for students so that they feel successful expressing themselves using printing.
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