Handwriting without Tears

Published on 9th March, 2022 by Ms. Mabel Sim

Handwriting without Tears

What is handwring

Handwriting is an important skill for academic success as well as an important tool for communication. Although our society now allows for students to use technology to type up their assignments and reports, we still need handwriting to write our names, draw pictures, write personal messages to friends and family, complete examinations and forms, as well as to write handwritten records.

To be able to sit at a desk and write well, a child needs to demonstrate good: - Core strength - Shoulder stability - Wrist and hand development - Eye hand coordination - Visual perceptual skills - Bilateral Integration - Level of attention, cognitive skills and cooperation

The early development of handwriting lays the foundation for writing development. Children who struggle with mastering this skill may avoid writing tasks and develop a mindset that they cannot write, leading to them falling behind their peers. If children have difficulties forming letters with reasonable legibility and speed, they cannot translate the language in their minds into written text.

What is legibility?

  • Legibility is assessed in terms of its components:
  • Letter formation
  • Spacing between letters and words
  • Sizing
  • Alignment
  • Slant

The bottom line of legibility is readability. It is important for the child’s work to be readable by the child, parent or teacher. If the child’s work is not legible or readable, how will the child read his or her own written work? How will the teachers decipher what the child has written and give them the grades that they deserve?

Edwards (2003) has shown that explicit handwriting instruction in preschool children with writing and reading difficulties can help them develop better handwriting in later grades. There are several effective handwriting programs, but the one recommended by teachers and Occupational therapists is Handwriting without Tears.

How can Handwriting Without Tears help?

Good handwriting skills develop from good handwriting instruction. The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum provides children with explicit, direct instruction and purposeful practice they need to master handwriting and automaticity. Studies have shown that Handwriting Without Tears is a multi-sensory structured handwriting program that is more effective in improving handwriting legibility compared to a traditional method of instruction (Le Brun el al., 2012; Thompson et al., 2012).

Handwriting Without Tears guides students to success with:

  • Developmentally appropriate sequence of instruction
  • Consistent guided practice to develop automaticity and fluency
  • Multisensory components to engage visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners
  • Hands-on manipulatives for developing fine motor and phonics skills
  • Simple, student-friendly, step-by-step language for letter formations

Handwriting Without Tears utilises multiple modalities, such as multisensory activities and manipulatives, to provide a hands-on approach to handwriting as well as to make writing fun! Children can move, touch, feel, and manipulate real objects as they learn the correct habits and skills that are essential for writing.

How can Occupational Therapy help?

An occupational therapist would firstly assess how your child functions in activities and analyse their handwriting, before suggesting the Handwriting Without Tears program. During the handwriting analysis, the occupational therapist would use their knowledge to analyse the child’s handwriting and determine which components the child is struggling with most. Treatment using the Handwriting Without Tears program would aim at improving these areas.

If you think that your child is having handwriting difficulties, then an occupational therapist at Psych Connect will be able to help.

Ms. Mabel Sim

About the Author - Ms. Mabel Sim

Mabel is an Occupational Therapist who is registered in Australia and Singapore. She brings with her an understanding of varied cultures as well as experiences of working across multiple settings (community, other allied health practices and schools). She is energetic and, enjoys working with younger children and, those with motor and handwriting difficulties.

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