Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dayton Children's class helps kids overcome handwriting problems

There are many reasons children have trouble with printing and handwriting.

Some have difficulties with fine motors skills or with the strength of their small muscles. This causes them to have difficulty holding a pen or pencil with the coordination to move it properly.

Others have visual issues that affect exactly what they write. A spatial relations issue, for example, is when a child turns one part of the letter in an incorrect direction.

For these children there is Pencil Power. The class, run by Dayton Children’s Medical Center, helps kids from kindergarten to third grade.

“(We help) the kids who don’t understand top from bottom or left from right,” said Melissa Kuck, an occupational therapist. “They don’t understand how to perform the letters.”

In a recent Pencil Power class, held at Our Lady of the Rosary in Dayton, children first used Play-Doh to form letters. The idea was to warm their hands up for writing and to prepare their eyes for seeing the letters correctly. And sure enough, a few kids sent the hook on their lowercase “j” in the wrong direction with their Play-Dough. After some work, they all printed the letter correctly in their workbooks.

What the classes does not do is help with spelling, grammar or comprehension. It’s all about using the hands and eyes. Sometimes a child in Pencil Power will copy letters beautifully, but then be unable to write letters and form sentences. That is a language, not a medical, issue.

And what about lefthanders? Or an awkward hand position while writing?

“As long as the kids have a functional dynamic grasp, then that’s the way they hold it,” she said. “Everybody holds their pencil a little different.”

Not being able to print properly isn’t a small issue, she said.

“It can affect their spelling tests, it can affect if they’re going to get praise from their teachers,” Kuck said.

Source: http://www.daytondailynews.com/

Monday, May 3, 2010

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