Welcome back to the The Pen Pal Project! This week, we’re going to focus on a new set of writing skills: speed and fluency. We also have another fun letter writing prompt for all the pen pals out there!
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This week, kids will get to write about: their favorite summertime treat!
–Week 8 Writing Prompt Handwriting Page for older kids who are ready to write on their own.
–Week 8 Fill in the Blank Page for little ones who need a little guidance and a shorter writing activity.
In my school based therapy practice, I frequently get referrals for students who are struggling with keeping up with the pace of written work in the classroom. They are the last ones to complete their bell work, they fall behind during journal writing, and they can’t keep up when copying from the board.
These students are struggling with handwriting speed and fluency. When a child is having difficulty in this area, it can often be challenging to determine what is causing the problem.
Here are some of the main things I focus on when working with kids who struggle with writing speed:
-Handwriting “basics” like pencil grasp, prewriting skills, and letter construction. If these skills aren’t in place, there is bound to be a negative impact on kids’ writing speed, especially as the demands of handwriting grow from one age level to the next.
–Posture and core strength. When kids can’t maintain strong, upright, functional posture in their chairs, it is very unlikely that they’ll be able to demonstrate fluent and efficient handwriting. They may lean on their hand while they write or slump in their chairs.
-Other potential learning problems. I always work closely with teachers to determine whether there is some underlying reason that a child might not be able to complete the work that we’re expecting of him (completing worksheets, writing in a journal, etc.). Are they struggling with spelling and sounding out words? Are they even able to identify and form all of the letters of the alphabet? Are they struggling with generating and organizing their ideas before writing?
-Attention to handwriting tasks. Many kids struggle with simply paying attention to handwriting tasks in the classroom. They may need writing assignments tweaked a little bit to meet their needs or they may benefit from sensory strategies to promote attention.
Tips for improving handwriting speed and fluency:
-Try having kids compete against themselves to beat their time on writing or copying a passage. I tell them not to worry about mistakes or erasing when we’re working on speed – just see if they can get it done as quickly and legibly as possible. Then, we go back and edit.
-Many kids benefit from copying written work from a model. They can sit with a teacher or other adult to generate their own ideas and speak their sentences aloud for the adult to write and then practice copying the passage from the model.
-Other kids do well with a fill-in-the-blank format for journals and note taking in the classroom. Preparing a fill-in-the-blank writing prompt doesn’t take long and often helps kids keep up with written tasks.
-Some therapists have reported great luck with moving kids away from printing to learn cursive (even at a young age) to help them improve their writing speed and fluency.
-Try having the child work with a visual timer on her desk to help keep her focused and on task.
-Try having the child check in with the teacher after completing a certain amount of written work to make sure they’re on the right track.
What are your best tricks for working with kids on writing fluency and speed?
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One of the most common skills that kids tends to suffer over the summer? Handwriting. Kids can have difficulty with many aspects of this important skill, including letter formation, hand strength, maintaining spacing and sizing, and keeping their writing on the lines. In any case, practice makes perfect – and kids just don’t get a lot of practice with handwriting during the summer.
So this summer, we’re excited to bring you The Pen Pal Project! The goal of this project is to encourage kids to keep writing all summer long but to have fun while they’re doing it!
Each week, we’ll provide printable writing prompts for kids that will be adapted for different ages (one with blank writing lines and one that’s fill-in-the-blank style). Encourage kids to complete the writing activity and then color in the pictures on the writing prompt to send to their friend!
You’ll be able to find all of the writing prompts here as the summer goes on (we’ll post a new one each week).