Difficulty with handwriting is one of the most common child development issues we see in our school-based occupational therapy practice. While I have lots of great handwriting ideas and strategies in my OT bag of tricks, this one is one of my favorites.
Many kids have trouble with using appropriate sizing and alignment in their writing. I typically approach this issue by teaching the lowercase letters in three separate groups: the TALL lowercase letters, the SHORT lowercase letters, and the TAIL lowercase letters.
I demonstrate that the TALL lowercase letters (b d f h k l t) touch the top handwriting line and the bottom line. We practice these for a few sessions with LOTS of consistent verbal prompting (Me: “Where do the TALL lowercase letters touch?” Kids: “Top and bottom!”)
Then, I move on to the SHORT lowercase letters (a c e i m n o r s u v w x z), showing the kids that these letters touch the dotted line and the bottom line. Again, LOTS of verbal prompting about where these letters touch.
Finally, we tackle the TAIL lowercase letters (g j p q y), showing that these letters touch the dotted line and have a tail that hangs down below the bottom line. Once again with the verbal prompting.
As I teach each group of letters, I highlight the corresponding lines on the paper to bring visual awareness to where each letter should touch. Try this printable Tall, Short, Tail Handwriting Practice Sheet.
What are your favorite handwriting tips and tricks? Leave a comment below or share them with us on our Facebook page!
photo credit: GoodNCrazy via photopin cc text added
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Amanda McGraw says
Great advice! I’m going to use this with my soon to be kindergartener! My son struggled with writing so we’ve done a few things to help:
1) core strengthening and hand strengthening exercises (tennis ball face with a mouth cut open to “feed” with coins and dry pasta, modeling clay with coins to find in it), 2) other exercises like swinging and bouncing on an exercise ball before writing, 3) yoga to calm the mind before writing and 4) breaking the writing work up into smaller pieces so it isn’t overwhelming, 5) typing out what he wants to write and then he copies it down once his thoughts are organized
Great advise. When our son was in year one, he didn’t quite understand the whole concept of differently sized letters neither. I did a little internet search and found a page showing a giraffe, a monkey and a chicken. The tall letters are giraffe letters, the long tailed letters are monkey letters and the short letters are chicken letters. It is basically exactly what you described here, just with different names. it caught on straight away and he never forgot.
Hi Lyn! I LOVE this! The monkey, chicken, and giraffe are the perfect way to give the concept even more visual appeal! Thanks so much for stopping by and for the great idea!! :)
Kelli Broadhart says
Thanks for the practice sheet! My son is currently in this situation.