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Writing Foundations: Having Fun and Learning Important Skills at an Early Age

News for 08.24.17
08.24.17
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By Catherine Buckman, MA OTR/L, Lead Occupational Therapist at Gatepath

For many families, going back to school is an exciting time. For some families, however, this time comes with worry when their child struggles with handwriting skills in the classroom. Getting a jumpstart on handwriting at the preschool level can set your child up for success when they enter elementary school.

At Gatepath, we have several fun and engaging classes taught one-on-one or in groups to help boost a child’s writing skills and establish a strong foundation for lifelong learning. We design these classes for children of all abilities and modify the curriculum to support an individual child’s learning pace and areas of developmental need.

HANDWRITING WITHOUT TEARS (Group Classes for up to Six Children)

Our Handwriting Without Tears® group classes help children compose legible and fluent handwriting as an automatic and natural skill. Perfect for children of all abilities, this program uses fun, entertaining, and educationally-sound instructional methods to teach handwriting, from basic through cursive. While this class focuses on pre-K writing and printing, our experienced occupational therapists (OTs) consult with families to focus on building writing skills for a child at any level.

We introduce uppercase letters at the preschool level. After practicing the proper formation of uppercase letters, we move on to lowercase letters as the child progresses, using fun techniques and cues for kids.

Research shows that children who master handwriting before the age of five are better, more creative writers. According to the founders of the HWT curriculum, “handwriting is a foundational skill that can influence student’s reading, writing, language use, and critical thinking.” The earlier we teach children to master handwriting, the more likely they are to succeed in school and write with speed and ease in all subjects. It also helps take the frustration out of the classroom and even at home.

Our approach and instructional goal is to make the lessons fun, engaging, and developmentally appropriate so children can master handwriting as an automatic and comfortable skill.

We engage the kids in:

  • Motor warm up: physical activities to help relax the children and prepare them for seated activities
  • Music with visual motor activities to engage all the senses
  • Kinesthetic, or hands on, activities such as using putty and Play-Doh to create letters
  • Fine motor skills practice, using art projects linked to the day’s theme
  • Each child gets a take-home workbook with activities to practice each week

The ideal age range to develop writing skills and to participate in these classes is approximately 3.5 to 5 years old. However, older children are welcome if their developmental level is appropriate for the class.

WRITING AND WRITING READINESS

Gatepath’s OTs can also provide individual classes/sessions that focus on writing (or just writing readiness) depending on your child’s level, including hands-on manipulative activities like using magnetics and building blocks and creating letters with Play-Doh. We also incorporate games and songs that are designed to prepare children to write. Although we often use materials from the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, we individualize the lessons to your child’s needs and provide families with strategies to use at home as well.

For more information about our writing readiness classes, please visit our website, email us, or call us at 650-259-8544.

We are passionate about helping children reach their full potential and excited to see them succeed.