A lot of people think that when a child can't write neatly that it is a problem with focus and effort. Years ago, handwriting was a focus in classrooms and neat handwriting was a paragon. Today, less emphasis is being made on handwriting. There are many opinions and school of thought on this one, but considering that writing itself is a monumental task, I believe that handwriting should be a separate and important focus. If children are able to write freely without feeling burdened by letter formation, the quality of their writing composition would be improved. I see children who struggle with letter formation, and these students usually struggle with all aspects of writing as well. It is embarrassing when your writing is illegible, and this leads to feelings of disdain towards writing itself.
A few tips for working on handwriting at home:
1. Keep it brief but impactful: If you work on one letter a day you are doing great! Kids wear out easily and we want to keep things positive. Never let them see your frustration.
2. Use the right pencil grip: There are many of these out there! buy a few and try them out to see what works for your child. It allows for holding the pencil with the perfect "tripod" grip while they build up finger strength.
3. Make sure you know the appropriate way to teach letter formation: Be careful that you know how the letters are formed. If you don't know then Handwriting Without Tears is a great program.
4. Always make sure they are in "handwriting position" before they write: Tripod grip, paper tilted, feet on floor, sit up straight, other hand holding the paper.
5. Try writing on a whiteboard or something fun: I like to use Boogie Boards, and mini white boards. It changes things up for the child instead of always writing on paper.
6. Lots of tracing: Tracing is a great way to get them to feel what it is like to form the letters before they do it on their own.
7. Use handwriting paper: You know the kind with the three lines.
7. If your child is really struggling, maybe try cursive: I know it sounds silly but cursive is much easier for children with writing disabilities. It requires less coordination since you are picking up the pencil less.
Check out the article written at understood.org to find out more about writing difficulties.
I want to share with you a very important diagram, created by a man that made modern teaching what it is today. His name was Dr. Howard Gardener, and he developed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. His theories are really the backbone of what we do at The Learning Space and you are more than welcome to read his whole thesis. The idea is that students all possess different traits that dictate the ways in which they obtain information and optimize learning. If you are a teacher you have heard of this, and had to study it in depth. But most parents have not. I wanted to share with you a graph that all parents should consider when working at home with their kids. I can say that my daughter is very clearly a Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence style, so we have always had races, jumped, and tossed a ball. This graph was made to use with dyslexic students but it really is best practices for all students. What is your child? What are you?
I would be more than happy to give ideas for anyone struggling to teach their child at home. Just let me know their learning style in the comments.
People ask me all the time what The Learning Space does. I am constantly refining the way that I describe what we do. I could go on-and-on about what makes us special, and different from the competition. But when I start saying this, most people have no clue what some of the well known tutoring brands offer. So, until The Learning Space becomes as well known as say Kumon, let me share some tips for finding the right tutor for your child.
One thing I have noticed in most of my interactions is that when it comes to tutoring, people usually don't know what they should be looking for. A lot like buying a house, or your first car, it requires a bit of research. To begin with, I know you have heard me say it a million times but from years of experience and hundreds of students, trust me when I say every child is unique. So if someone is selling you a set program with workbooks, homework, and checklists, this is not going to help a struggling student. Extra practice never hurts (unless your child hates it), but you will not see the results you are looking for if your reason for tutoring is that they are struggling in school.
Second, what are the teachers qualifications? Are they in college, are they credentialed teachers? For someone looking for a subject matter tutor for middle or high school this would not be a huge issue, but for a struggling reader you really want to make sure they have the appropriate skill set to work with early learners. When I hire teachers you would be surprised how many applications I get from incredibly smart people with no teaching experience with elementary aged students.
Another issue that I come across all the time is parents thinking that using the child’s classroom teacher or another classroom teacher is better than a professional tutor. Firstly, these teachers are obviously qualified to teach, but it does not mean that they specialize in intervention based techniques and know how to maximize the short instruction time. We operate on the 30 minute session and honestly achieve what a teacher, or most tutoring centers do in one hour. Therefore we may seem costly per minute, but you are actually spending less overall and getting faster more effective teaching techniques.
What type of program are you looking for? Do you want it to be rigorous, or do you want it to be more play-based? We like to find a balance between getting work done and playing games. If a student is having fun they will engage more with the teacher and be more than willing to do the work. To us making connections with our students is primary before learning can begin.
The last thing that I want to bring up is computer programs. I get asked about apps and programs on the computer to help kids learn. Teachers do use them in the classroom, but this is simply to meet 21st century demands, not to take the place of instruction. Imagine that when you were growing up, instead of your caring teacher or loved one showing you how to read and count, a computer did this. Would it be the same? No, it is not. Human interaction is vital to the learning process.
If you ever need tips or help in choosing the right tutor for your child, I am here for you!
The Learning Space has always had the vision of recreating the "tutoring center." Our belief has always been that education is not binary. We need to approach learning from the whole-child perspective and teach children to love the learning process. Nothing allows a child to explore the learning process better than a maker space. What is a maker space you ask? If you don't know, it is a magical place for kids (and adults) to create! Research proves that higher level thinking is best achieved when one is actively engaged in creating. In a maker space, kids are exposed to all facets of STEAM education (Science, technology, engineering, art and math). The student may be presented with a question or a problem, and then given the tools to envision and build a solution.
Maker Space @ The Learning Space, will be previewing its program at the Lafayette Art ad Wine Festival in September 2019.