At the end of first grade, my child couldn't write. His writing was unintelligible, the letters were backwards, and the sentences looped up and off of the line as though they were reaching for the stars.
And so began my research on Learning to write.
Here are two articles about what your child needs to have developed before learning to read and write. These were written by Dr. Susan Johnson, who helped us immensely with our child.
Remember that many searingly brilliant people out there have terrible handwriting, so don't make yourself or your child crazy. This section is NOT talking about perfection. It's talking about the ability to communicate.
In today's competitive environment, I sometimes look at moms of younger children and just laugh. A friend of mine who has a five month old baby periodically attends lectures on "positive discipline." This amazes me. I mean, we all have different ways of letting off steam, but a NAP is more appropriate when you have a five month old!
So the biggest thing that I want to say about pre-handwriting is to not stress on the handwriting. If your child is 3, my suggestion is to stop reading this page. Take your kid outside and let them make mud pies.
Here is a wonderful link from the Waldorf people. Please take a minute to look at it. It's part of a series, and the entire series is great.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf schools, was a real purist. He's probably the only modern purist that we parents run into today. He was also a systemic thinker. The guy didn't just decide that orange was a color that made people feel good: he created an entire theory and system of colors. A little over the top.
But the really interesting thing about Steiner's research and what he came up with is that it's a theory of teaching created by a really brilliant guy (and a lot of his brilliant friends and coworkers.) There is a method to what he is doing, and it's cool.
In my humble opinion, every parent who wants to be on top of how their kids learn should at least take a look at what the Waldorf people are doing.
Handwriting Therapy to help the Brain
Jeanette Farmer is a very interesting woman. From her Retrain the Brain website: "With 30 years experience in handwriting analysis, Jeanette Farmer is one of only a few handwriting remediation specialists in this country. Her rarefied expertise in viewing handwriting from a brain dominance perspective is grounded in 30 years of research of the late German neurologist/ graphologist, Dr. Rudolph Pophal. In studying how the brain's various motor centers impact the movement style, he identified which brain areas had the greatest impact on the movement style." Jeanette's research is pretty fascinating. If you need to do handwriting work with your child - or if your child has attention issues or a plethora of other issues, do read her background page.
Jeanette has been recommended by very solid ADHD sites and for handwriting.
Music in Learning
Jeanette Farmer combines handwriting exercises with music that is 60 beats per minute. Music that is 60 beats per minute (the same speed as the heart) is said to calm and to increase focus. Here is a very interesting article on music and the brain.