Letter leaders handwriting program for preschoolers: an early identification and intervention approach to reduce handwriting problems in children.
Tourigny, Julie Marie
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Handwriting is one of the main activities in which children engage in during their learning years. Studies support the supposition that adequate handwriting is a necessary skill for a child to succeed in elementary school and beyond (Feder & Majnemer, 2003). It is estimated that 30% to 60% of a child's school day is spent completing written work (Marr, Windsor, & Cermak, 2001; McHale & Cermak, 1992). This written work is the primary means by which a teacher evaluates the child's learning. Studies have shown that legibility and handwriting speed influence a child's success in school (Graham, 2011). However, 10% to 30% of elementary school aged children have handwriting problems (Karlsdottir & Stefansson, 2002). Because children are required to submit written assignments in nearly every class beginning in the first grade, they typically fall behind academically when completion of these assignments becomes burdensome and time-consuming (Graham, 1992; Hammerschmidt & Sudsawad, 2004). As a result, learning is impaired, grades suffer, and the child may experience poor self-esteem (Engel-Yeger, Nagauker-Yanuv, & Rosenblum, 2009; Feder & Majnemer, 2007). Without formal intervention, children who have difficulty with handwriting in kindergarten through second grade continue to struggle as they progress through school and in many cases achieve less school success as the cognitive and motor demands increase (Graham, 2011). This author proposes it as essential that all preschool children be screened for indicators of possible future handwriting problems during their prekindergarten year. Unfortunately, screening proves to be a problem because at present there are few assessments that are appropriate for measuring handwriting skills in children under the age of five (Hoy, Egen, & Feder, 2011; van Hartingsveldt, De Groot, Aarts, & Nijhuis-Van Der Sanden, 2011). Furthermore, the handwriting assessments that do exist are not appropriate for use with preschool aged children. Occupational therapists (OT) try to circumvent this shortcoming by using a combination of several fine motor and visual motor tests to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the motor aspect of handwriting skills (Feder, Majnemer, & Synnes, 2000). This is both costly and time-consuming as the OT must have access to more than one assessment tool, and must allot the time to administer each one. The focus of this project is to develop a screening to measure the potential for future handwriting difficulty in elementary school by detecting deficits with the underlying motor performance factors necessary for adequate handwriting precision in preschool aged children. In addition, the author proposes the development of an intervention program specifically designed for preschool aged children. While there are intervention programs currently available to work with this age group, a comprehensive program that evaluates and provides intervention strategies for preschool aged children does not currently exist (Asher, 2006).
Thesis (D.O.T.)--Boston University