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Christian Families Home Schooling a Child with Down Syndrome: Handwriting Resources
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Diane Brown
120 Lullwater Road
Greenville, SC 29607
Permission is given to copy with proper credits
Note: Any prices given are approximate

Before choosing resources, know where your child is in his fine motor skill development. Then you will know what skills he needs to work on next and be better able to choose the resources you need.

This pamphlet includes ideas of what to do while you are waiting for fine motor muscles to develop. It also gives suggestions for teaching handwriting

What to Look for in a Handwriting Program:

     Many children with Down syndrome are able to learn to write in time. It is important to be consistent, teach carefully, and establish good habits from the beginning. Equally important is establishing a good attitude toward handwriting time. Make it a fun time to be together.
Woodbine House
Special Needs Collection
6510 Bells Mill Road
Bethesda, MD 20817
(800) 843-7323

The Sensible Pencil by Linda C. Becht
EBSCO Curriculum Materials @60.00
     This program was developed for children with Down syndrome. I have not seen this. Since this program is expensive, you might try it only if your child has extreme difficulties and other handwriting programs are not working.

Handwriting Without Tears
Jan Z. Olsen, OTR
8802 Quiet Stream Ct.
Potomac, MD 20854
Web: www.hwtears.com
  • Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me (kindergarten)
    @$12.00 with teacher's guide (one stroke letters and very inexpensive to use)

D'Nealian Handwriting
See your local teacher-supply store
Preschool Readiness Activities
Any preschool or kindergarten curriculum usually lists these types of activities. Here are a few to get you started. Tracing can be done with the pointer finger until your child can hold a pencil: Hints for Teaching Handwriting
  1. Remember that the main objective is legible handwriting. Some fonts may have little curves at the end of the letter (see letter on right below). If your child does not do this little curve, do not bother to try to get him to do it. Likewise, do not be too concerned about slant as long as there are no extremes. If your program has slanted letters but your child makes them straight. It does not matter because the main objective is legibility.
    n     n
  2. Give plenty of praise.
  3. Practice handwriting for only about 5 minutes at a sitting. As your child gains confidence and is able to do more writing, increase to no more than 10 minutes of actual writing time.
  4. Teach proper pencil hold and posture from the beginning.
  5. Use regular size pencils unless an occupational therapist says your child needs something else.
  6. Make letter models large enough if they do not come with your program. Use sentence strips you can purchase at teacher supply stores. Write the letters with a thick black marker with about two-inches of space between the letters. Use red and blue to show letters with multiple strokes. Place a starting dot in green for each letter. Use a thin black marker to darken the handwriting lines if needed. Post these where your child will write.
  7. Always model before your child writes. Talk about what you are doing and say it the same way each time. You might even model the letter for a few days or weeks before allowing your child to try it on his own. Have fun when it is your turn.
  8. Use different colors of chalk or markers to show multi-stroke letters.
  9. Write letters with a highlighter marker for him to trace. Allow your child to do lots of tracing before directing him to copy letters.
  10. Use hand-over-hand assistance to help your child have success if necessary.
  11. Provide practice tracing the letter without handwriting lines until he seems to know that basic strokes. Then move to handwriting lines to help him work on proportions.
  12. Put a greater focus on the lowercase letters. These are used more often in writing than the uppercase letters.
  13. Teach your child about the handwriting lines. Pat Oelwein's book gives a good idea that will be fun.
  14. Use a green marker and place beginning dots where your child is to begin the letter.
  15. If your child does not see his mistake, you make a larger letter and exaggerate the mistake. Then make another letter and form it correctly. Tell your child to place a sticker or circle the one that is a "happy" letter because it was formed correctly.
  16. Never just give your child handwriting to practice and walk away. If he makes a whole row of letters incorrectly, he is learning bad habits that once established will be hard to correct.
  17. It is better to make three letters correctly and end with a child that is still smiling than it is to write a whole page of letters and end with a child that hates writing time.
  18. When marking your child's handwriting, emphasize what is correct. Put a smile or get the very small stickers and place one by every letter that has improved.
  19. Criteria: Do not work on everything at once. In the beginning work on forming the letter correctly, then work on how it is place on the handwriting lines. Point out that most lowercase letters begin on the mid-line. After letter formation is down pat, work on getting your child to "sit" the letters on the bottom line so that they are not floating. This helps tremendously with neatness. Later in life your child will have only one line to write on for forms he may need to fill out for work.
  20. Before writing letters on paper, use different fun ways to give practice of the letter:
    • Use gross motor movements and trace the letters on a chalkboard or whiteboard. It may also be helpful to write them with a finger in the air, on the bumpy surface of a rug, or on a table.
    • Trace with a finger in shaving cream, finger paints, or pudding if your child is not tactile defensive. Use a box of sand or corn meal.
    • Trace with a blunt pencil in a thin amount of clay spread out on a tray.
    • Allow your child to use colored markers, crayons, or colored chalk to write instead of a pencil.
Note: Bob Jones University Press uses a "PreCursive" handwriting that also uses one stroke letters. However they do not have a separate handwriting workbook on the kindergarten level. If your other family members use this handwriting and you would like your child with Down syndrome to also learn this style, e-mail or call.
Revised: December 3, 2001.