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P is for Pace, Placement, & Posture

Ahh, I couldn't pick just one "P" - ALL three of these are so important to handwriting! So let's dive right in.

Pace, this is the speed in which a child writes. Does your child/student rush through their work, speeding along with no awareness of accuracy? The faster they go, the more illegible their writing? Or is your child/student the opposite... where writing is slow and laborious? Both can be equally challenging and need to be addressed. For the kids that speed through their written work, we want to ensure they have a solid foundation first. Then, we work on self-checking, with the goal of increasing their awareness of accuracy. We also want to allot a sufficient time so that students do not feel rushed to get all of their thoughts out in a short amount of time. For those kids who struggle with slower pace, we want to figure out the WHY? Where is the breakdown causing them to write at a slower speed? Is it the cognitive process of organizing their thoughts? Or the physical aspect of forming letters? Or both? Once we figure out the underlying causes, we can address PACE so that our students can become efficient and accurate writers!

Placement... this is a HUGE one! Line placement is one of the most common goals for children I work with. There can be a myriad of reasons for why line placement is the challenge. But we will discuss just a few. First, the issue could lie within the child's visual perception, sensory, visual motor, or fine motor skills. Can they visually plan out their movements to make the letter sit on the line? Do they have coordination/dexterity/motor planning for pencil control? Do they have awareness of the lines? Second, have they even been taught how to use the lines? Often worksheets and papers can have a variety of line types, so we have to explicitly teach each one? Also, many worksheets do NOT even have lines, which is a whole other challenge (hello floating words and HUGE letters!)

Posture, yes posture contributes to handwriting. Handwriting truly comes from the core, meaning the back, hips, tummy, and shoulders. We MUST have a solid foundation to maintain an upright seated position in a chair at a desk before we can form letters. In OT we call this "proximal stability" which is just a fancy way of saying that you have a stable solid core. So those kids slouching in their chairs, leaning on the table, or wrapping their feet around the chair legs may have a weak core which is impacting their writing. In order to use your hands and fingers (mobility) to achieve fine controlled movements, you need good posture.

The 3 P's: Pace, Placement, and Posture... wow are they essential aspects of handwriting. This is why handwriting tutoring is SO effective, we look at the underlying skills holding your child back!



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