Do you have a child who, when given a blank page to write his name, will cover the entire space with huge, giant letters? Maybe your kiddo is on the opposite end of things, leaning in close and making teeny, tiny little letters. Or maybe she can’t maintain consistent sizing as she writes – making some letters huge and others small.
These kids are struggling with spatial awareness – a common problem among new little writers. They don’t have a natural sense for how to make their letters just the right size to fit the space in which they’re writing.
This is developmentally appropriate for preschoolers who are just experimenting with writing their names and other letters. As kids move through kindergarten, they’ll start honing this skill and learning how to use the lines on the page to guide the size of their writing.
If your child is struggling with handwriting long after Kindergarten, there may be more going on. Commonly, those who have eye teaming or tracking disorders have to put a lot of thought and energy into copying words correctly, keeping their place when looking back and forth, or keeping the words from looking double or offset. So much attention goes into the 'seeing' part that they don't realize the spacing, sizing of letters, punctuation, or writing on the line is looking like a mess until they've finished.
By treating the eye teaming or tracking problems with therapy, we teach the brain to use the eyes better and more efficiently. When the 'seeing' part becomes automatic, then more attention is available to watch for spelling, spacing, and sizing. Below are some examples of some of our 3rd and 4th graders' writing before and after their program of vision therapy for tracking or eye teaming problems.
This is a sentence copy test done before and after 4 months of vision therapy. This amazing girl is nine years old and had convergence insufficiency. Her visual skills are now excellent and subsequently the spacing and formation in her handwriting also improved with zero handwriting or fine motor therapy.
This little girl had recently finished her 6 month re-eval and here are her writing samples: pre-therapy, post-therapy and 6 months post-therapy. She was 8.5 when we started and finished at 9.5 years old. This progression says a lot about her overall organization and spatial awareness.