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S is for Size

Size Matters! No really, with handwriting, size really does matter ;)

In fact, one area of our handwriting evaluation assesses a student's ability to size their letters and numbers appropriately for their age.

When children are young, they tend to write very large as they begin to learn capital letters and write their name. This is great and normal as they are building motor memory and letter recognition, as well as their fine motor skills have not fully developed for pencil control quite yet. As students get older, they begin learning lowercase letters and writing on lines, and therefore the sizing of their letters needs to be appropriate for the space they are writing within. Likewise, as students get older their fine motor skills are becoming more refined, so they are able to use a more developed grasp pattern and have better dexterity to write smaller and within a given space.

There is even a handwriting program created by an Occupational Therapist called "Size Matters" where instruction is guided by learning the 3 sizes of letters. And many other handwriting programs use strategies to teach letter size by using 3 lines, double-lines, colored lines, tall/small/fall letter names, and so on. Letter size and line placement tend to go together as you need to be able to place your letter on the lines and therefore size the letter appropriately for the lines.

Have you ever witnessed this? A child is given a worksheet with no lines but just large open bubbles for them to write their response. The child then writes HUGE words that end up running out of the bubble and off the page! Often children struggle with sizing when there is not a visual cue to alert them to size their letter appropriately. Whether the cue is a gray box like Handwriting Without Tears uses, or lines, or a sticker sitting on a line, or a highlighted space. This visual cue reminds the students of how big the letter should be. For children who especially struggle with this, I like to use raised lines to give them not only a visual but also a tactile cue as they write so they can feel the line and know where to start and stop.

There are a lot of little skills that go into sizing letters. Children need to have the dexterity and fine motor skills to control their pencil, the visual motor skills to start and stop the pencil in the appropriate place, and the motor planning skills to not undershoot or overshoot the line. There are many strategies that we can implement in our handwriting tutoring sessions to address, remediate, and/or accommodate difficulties in these areas. Let us know if your child needs help with their sizing or underlying skills impacting this!



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