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Letter Formation
Letter Spacing
Letter Alignment
Letter Size
Letter Slant
These five writing characteristics affect legibility. Difficulty in two or more of these areas means poor writing legibility.

Underlying difficulties in such areas as fine motor control, proximal shoulder stability or visual perception may cause a child to have illegible writing and should be addressed fully by an Occupational Therapist. In addition, try these ideas to help a child.


Can you remember learning to write? Let's pretend...imagine today writing unfamiliar letters, whether Chinese or Hebrew, for the first time. A daunting task indeed! (and you know how to manipulate a pencil).
Try these tricks to make it easier for kids.

1 Employ different learning approaches.
Auditory: When teaching a letter, think up a simple verse to help a child remember how to form it.
For example, for "S" say: The skier rides up the hill, skis down the hill and then goes up to the lodge.

Kinesthetic: Help a child learn the way it feels to form a letter. Try drawing letters in sand, paint and shaving cream. It provides a child with tactile feedback, kinesthetic (movement) input and...it is FUN!

Visual: Draw arrows beside letters to demonstrate to children how to form letters correctly.
Also, try writing letters in green and red. Remember, green means go for starting strokes and red can be used for later strokes.

2 Make writing tasks MOTIVATING!
As a substitute to copying strings of letters, try the following ideas:

Pick a category such as "winter" and write down an associated list of words that begin with "s" (snow, ski, sled...)

Look at a picture and place an "s" beside all "s" words.

Try a word search with plenty of "s" words.

Try this variation of "Tic Tac Toe"; use letters you are working on instead of the usual "X" and "O". Children have fun with this and you can reinforce correct letter formation.

These activities and others will be available for printing in our "WORKSHEETS" section in February 2001!

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Omitting spaces between words is a common error which can make writing hard to read. Try these ideas

1 After writing a word, have child place index finger of non-dominant hand on the writing line to make a space. Start the next word to the right of the finger.

2 Write sentences on graph paper, leaving 1 or 2 squares empty after each word.

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When letters float above the line or dip below the line, legibility is comprimized. Like all skills that affect legibility, visual motor skills (ability to effectively coordinate visual guidance and written output) often play a key role. Activities such as dot to dots and mazes may help. In addition try these ideas:

With a brown marker, draw a line that represents grass. Instruct the child to touch the grass with each letter. Ask him or her to go back and circle letters correctly aligned.

To improve attention to "the ground", draw flowers that start in the soil and grow up to the sky. Try drawing worms, ants or birds on the ground. As children have fun with this activity, remind them that all objects MUST touch the ground.

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Children may make letters too large, too small or inconsistent. Try these activities:

1 Improve a child's awareness of letter size through play with a variety of media (dry erase boards and chalk boards are convenient and effective). Experiment making giant letters, tiny letters or imitating each other's letter size.

Review a writing sample and circle letters which are either too large or too small.

Copy a sentence focusing on writing tiny letters. Copy the same sentence and make letters large.

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To improve letter slant, try these ideas:

1 On the chalkboard draw a diagonal line to serve as a guide for correct letter slant. Have children think of a word in a category, such as sports, and write it on the board. Rewrite as needed to acieve the proper slant.

2 Practice writing letters using imagery; "Drive up the mountain and down the other side".

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