Back in the 1980s occupational therapist Jan Olsen responded to the tears and frustrations that her first grade son experienced when trying to learn handwriting by developing what is now known as “Handwriting Without Tears®.” This handwriting curriculum for kindergarten through the second grade is now catching on and numerous school districts through-out the country are implementing it.
The program focuses on using curves and straight lines together to form letters and numbers, all accompanied to songs and movements. “It’s more about lots of energy in the teaching – lots of music and lots of movement – so that the kids are kinesthetically involved as well as mentally,” explains Cathy Van Haute, an occupational therapist and national Handwriting Without Tears instructor.
When instructing teachers how to use the curriculum, Van Haute and other national presenters treat the teachers as if they were the students, and have the teachers actually participate in the singing and dancing. “They’ll need to know how to actually model this program to their students,” states Van Haute.
For example, during a presentation, Van Haute utilizes a baseball analogy to show the proper way to write the letter “e” and has the teachers do a diving motion to simulate the forming of several other letters.
Part of the mission statement for Handwriting Without Tears® says that the program “aims to make legible and fluent handwriting an easy and automatic skill that every student can master.” A perfect partner to that goal is the fluid and comfortable ergonomic pen, the UGLee Pen. The way this pen allows the hand to relax during handwriting automatically promotes handwriting without stress or strain on hand muscles and tendons, allowing the student to better focus on learning the shapes of letters and numbers.
Children of all ages are at risk for repetitive stress injury. Due to their underdeveloped muscles, it’s easy for children to accumulate small injuries early that stay with them as they grow older. Handwriting involves many minute repetitive movements which can have a negative consequence, especially when a child is first learning how to write. It is essential that the writing utensils used by these students have a positive ergonomic impact as does the UGLee Pen.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.hwtears.com)