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Handwriting Programs Used by Occupational Therapists

Helene Gillespie, Ph.D., OTR/L

January 22, 2013

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Question

What are some handwriting programs that can be used by occupational therapists when working with kindergarteners?

Answer

There are many handwriting programs that are available and are being used in kindergarten classrooms. It is important for occupational therapists to be familiar with the different programs available and the features of each.  It is important to also know the following:

  •  It allows OTs to be able to collaborate with teachers in different classrooms.
  •  Each program may have unique instruction features that can be applied across different curriculums.
  • Some of the handwriting programs feature apps that allow the child to practice letter formation on a Smartboard or iPad.
  • Research has not proved the consistent effectiveness of one handwriting curriculum versus another.

Here is a sampling of the handwriting programs used in schools:

D'Nealian

  1. â Slanted style
  2. Per site, 87% of D'Nealian lower case letters are same as cursive letters.

http://www.dnealian.com/

Handwriting Without Tears

  1. Developed by an OT
  2. Per site, this program helps children develop their writing through explicit, multisensory, play based instruction.

http://www.hwtears.com/

Zaner-Bloser

  1. Upright formation of letters
  2. Per site, supports reading and mathematic acquisition.

http://www.zaner-bloser.com/handwriting/zaner-bloser-handwriting

Sunform Alphabet System

  1. Slanted formation of letters
  2. Per site, it teaches literacy skills fundamental to a successful beginning in reading, writing and spelling.

http://www.sunformalphabet.com/

Brain Gym

  1. Has 26 movements, exercises or activities.
  2. Per site, the philosophy is that moving with intention leads to optimal learning.

http://www.braingym.org/

First Strokes Multi-Sensory Print Program

  1. Developed by an OT
  2. Per site, letters are grouped and taught according to their "first strokes" such as a circle, short lines, tall lines and leaning letters.

http://www.therapro.com/First-Strokes-Multi-Sensory-Handwriting-Program-C307884.aspx

Sensible Pencil

  1. Uses 11 basic lines
  2. Per site, designed to help new writers achieve success quickly...by using sequential worksheets that move them ahead in short easy steps.

http://www.difflearn.com/product/Sensible_Pencil/handwriting_workbooks

Big Strokes for Little Folks

  1. Developed by an OT
  2. Per site, it is an intensive intervention for children with sensory integration difficulties.

http://www.amazon.com/Strokes-Little-Bonnie-Levine-Rubell/dp/0761643672

 


helene gillespie

Helene Gillespie, Ph.D., OTR/L

Dr. Gillespie has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in both school-based and private
practice settings for over 35 years. Because of her strong interest in the field of
learning disabilities, she completed a Ph.D. in that area, with a concentration in cognitive
neuroscience, in 2003. Helene's doctoral research focused on component skills of handwriting.
Currently, Dr. Gillespie is a consultant for a special education cooperative. Additionally, she consults with
parents and teachers through her private practice: OT in the Classroom, LLC.


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