Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I've Got My Eye On You!

Leavespacesbetweenyourwords!  That's a little bit hard to read, right?  Lots of kids have illegible handwriting because they leave little to no space between their words when writing.  It's reeeeally hard to read because everything looks like one giant word.  These little guys often end up having to re-write their work because the teacher can't read what's on the paper and it can be frustrating for the kids AND the teachers and parents.  With CONSISTENCY, this can be pretty easily fixed!

The simplest and most convenient solution is to have the child "finger space" by placing his pointer finger after each word like this:

Pointer fingers are always available!  Give reminders to "finger space" before and during writing.  If that is not enough of a visual reminder, you can always use a "space stick".  This could be a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor.  The kids always like these and are motivated to use them. 

To keep it fun, DECORATE the space stick!  You can decorate or have the kids decorate with stickers, markers, or glitter glue.  One of my favorites is "the EYE".....a big googly eye glued to the top and I tell the kids they need to remember to space because "I've got my eye on you!". 

I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't giggle at googly eyes :)  Others are just as happy with a simple smiley face for their "space man".

Learning to space between words might not sound like fun but you'll be surprised when ALL of the kids want a space stick!  Why not make them available for everyone?  They're super cheap and will help the ones who need to use it to REMEMBER to use it.   

Until the habit is formed (this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks), you'll need to offer some verbal and/or visual reminders every time the child starts a writing assignment until they remember on their own.  The kids often surprise themselves when they see how word spacing makes their writing look so much nicer and easy to read!  For some, that's motivation enough PLUS no more re-writing because the teacher can't read the work.  The spaces might seem too wide but this is OK!   It helps to over exaggerate the spacing when the child is learning so that they can really see the spaces.  With practice, they will naturally adjust to typical word spacing. 
Happy Writing!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L

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