One thing that often can make a teacher concerned about a child’s print development is the size of their print. When their print is much larger than their peers, they have difficulty controlling the size in a general area or when writing within lines they often write outside of the lines. Then they often have delays with fine motor control/ coordination.
Recently, I had one of my beloved 4k Exceptional Education classroom teachers ask me how to help a student print smaller/ more controlled. First, she asked if this was ok to be concerned about this for a preschooler. For his developmental level of skill, it was definitely appropriate. He is working on writing or copying words in capital or lower case letters. (Please see his print sample in the blog picture, with his name “Brennan”.) Preschoolers, that are able to copy the majority of their letters (starting from the top) should also try to have print size (each letter) that is 1-2 inches in size or less. One inch or less for lower case letters like a, o, e, c Two inches or less for capital letters or lower case letters like b, h, d, p, j, y.
I gave the teacher a few strategies, that I often use to help a student control their print size. I shall also add here, that I feel that it is critical to work on shoulder strength and stability for a student that is having print size issues. Your shoulder must be strong and stable to allow for a stable and controlled print size. However, I will save those ideas for other blog posts. But please keep that in mind when you work with a student that struggles with print size. Here are some strategies I gave her.
- Take the small post it notes and have a student print each letter or word in the Post It note. I often take the small ones and cut them in half to make them a bit smaller. This is the same idea as drawing a box for a student to write in but my kids seem to like this way too. The teacher did enough for him to practice his full name and then laminated it, with the hopes to use it like a dry erase board.
2. I will also use strips of construction paper, for a student to copy words or a basic sentence in. This also forces control of their size. Then I will have the student glue that onto a piece of larger construction paper that they are working on.
3. I will also use a flat colorful ruler or thick piece of card stock paper and hold this at the top or bottom of the paper so the student only has about a 2″ width and 8″ length of area to write in. This requires a person to be with the student to hold the ruler in place. I also use this technique with trying to help a student understand where a baseline line is, by putting the ruler or thick paper just below where the baseline is. I have also used a yard stick at the classroom board.
4. When working at the easel. I will take two magnet lines that I have, they are actually the magnetic “Big Lines” that Handwriting Without Tears sold years ago, and have a student write within these lines. I told the teacher she could do this by getting the small sheet of adhesive magnet paper, cut thick long strips of it, and stick a piece of laminated construction paper to the adhesive side. Or you could hot glue magnets to a flat ruler. If you are a teacher, I have no doubt you are creative and can figure something out, for this concept.
5. I will also just make long thick highlight lines and tell the student to keep their writing in the highlighted area. I often do this with my older students, in first grade and up. The older the student the smaller thickness of line. I will also use various bought paper that has adapted lines to help a student understand size.
I hope these ideas help you too. I know Ms. Strickland will be using them to help her kids!