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Bonnie Terry’s One Minute
Homework & Teaching Tips #26
Handwriting Problems? Part One
Sometimes a student has sloppy handwriting. Sometimes a student has sloppy handwriting all of the time, even though he or she spends time trying to be neat. There are several questions to ask when you are concerned that your student has a writing problem.
1. Is the student able to write in an acceptable manner in a structured teaching session but not in unsupervised settings?
2. Have you collected samples of your students writing over time to see the growth and maturity in the formation of letters? Have you compared the handwriting with other student’s handwriting [from the same grade level]?
3. Are the letters sized correctly [touching the top, middle, or bottom line of the]?
4. What is the extent of the student’s handwriting instruction?
5. Is the student using good posture, pencil grip, and paper positions?
After answering these questions, take a look at where you would place the student in the hierarchy of developmental steps to good handwriting.
Six Developmental Steps to Good Handwriting
Handwriting is a fine motor skill that one acquires over time. There are six developmental steps to the mastery of good handwriting.
1. Scribbling: Grasping a pencil and moving it to make random pencil movements.
2. Tracing: The ability to control pencil movements by tracing shapes or letters or connecting the dots in a dotted figure.
3. Copying: The ability to copy shapes and letters from a model which leads to being able to reproduce the model [shape or letter] from memory.
4. Completion of tasks: The ability to copy a figure or shape that is partially drawn [parts of it are missing] and put in the missing piece.
5. Writing from dictation: The ability to write letters as they are spoken, write words and sentences, supply missing words, and supply missing sentences.
6. Propositional writing: The ability to use handwriting to record and convey thoughts, ideas, and questions to others.
Breakdowns can occur in any one of those steps.
What’s Coming Up?
Handwriting Problems Part 2: Three Types of Handwriting Problems