Just like any other subject, you may find that each child’s needs vary with handwriting. There are key skills that should begin to be developed prior to handwriting practice. Each student may be at different stages in those skills. If you are not sure whether a child is ready for handwriting lessons, read this post here.
Even though students might be slightly underdeveloped in a specific handwriting, they can receive the support they need alongside handwriting practice. With a few tweaks to our handwriting lessons, all students can feel confident in continuing their handwriting practice. The Print Handwriting Bundle, mentioned in the previous post from this series, makes this even easier.
Common skills that need accommodation while teaching handwriting might include lack of fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, pencil grip, and/or confidence. Let’s talk about how to differentiate our handwriting lesson to support students that are at varying stages of these handwriting developments.
How Can We Support Kids with Dexterity-Related Needs
Once letter tracing has begun, you can easily spot which kids are struggling with dexterity. A larger or smaller line size choice can offer further assistance.
I used this Print Line Size Assessment Freebie to determine which line size would work best for my daughter. She was struggling to write letters with control. At her own pace, she traced and copied each word on 5 different line sizes.
The assessment showed me that my daughter could benefit from an extra small lined paper. I will use this editable handwriting paper (similar to the page shown in the image below) to create a custom page for her. This gives her a chance to continue her handwriting practice while we work on further developing those fine motor skills.
If her best work was on the medium line size, I would continue using the print packet.
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Another way to help with dexterity development is providing several options for writing tools. Different writing utensils provide different slip, traction, and size for gripping. Allowing student to try various writing tools can be a great introduction to penmanship.
Using a writing tool that is easier to write with safely transition students to daily practice while they are still developing confidence in their ability to trace letters.
Correcting Improper Letter Formation
Get creative with Letter Tracing Activities. We use these Color-Coded Tracing Mats in a variety of ways while mastering proper letter formation. The mats are color coded to the 6 letter strokes and are included in the Print Handwriting Curriculum Bundle.
Download the tracing mats. Then, display the mats on an interactive whiteboard. Air tracing exercises gross motor skills and gives students a positive first impression with tracing a letter.
Driving the toy car on the letter “road” uses fine motor skills.
Directing a ball with a magnetic wand beneath laminated letter mats are perfect for exercising hand-eye coordination.
Students who do not need additional help can simply review proper letter formation by tracing the mats on a tablet.
Empowering Discouraged Writers
This doesn’t necessarily fall under “differentiation”, however it ties well with everything that has been mentioned. One of the most common struggles that students have when beginning penmanship is self-confidence. Some children are confident in their scribbling abilities, while others are not so sure.
Offering plenty of support when students are insecure about their progress will give them the assurance that they need. One way to boost confidence is through empowerment. Introducing lots of choices for writing tools, varying activities that strengthen a specific handwriting goal, or even the line sizes of primary paper. Having a wide range of resources readily available welcomes students with the freedom to choose.
Where Can I Find the Resources?
Handwriting mastery is foundational to successful growth in the primary grades, yet differentiation in handwriting is often forgotten. Students struggle with handwriting in different areas and stages. This can change how a handwriting lesson may look from one student to another.
Until now, that might have seemed overwhelming. The Print Handwriting Bundle includes resources that can help you differentiate your handwriting lessons. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Ready to Differentiate Your Handwriting Lesson?
Now that you know how easily differentiation can be, you can provide handwriting resources and materials for students at a variety of levels development. Are you ready to differentiate your handwriting lesson?