Starting kindergarten is so exciting for most kids, but learning to write can be challenging for those children that have fASD, SPD, fine motor or visual-motor issues. Even though fewer and fewer teachers know how to teach handwriting well, it is still a necessary skill for young children. Learning Without Tears has developed an amazing book that can help your child build skills faster and easier: Kickstart Kindergarten!
Why Writing (Still) Really Matters
There are research studies that suggest that the physical act of forming letters positively affects memory and comprehension. These studies suggest the benefits continue all the way through into college-level instruction. Handwriting is a multi-sensory experience. The brain is using many different areas of the brain are involved in organizing and coordinating it’s tasks to execute the ability to write. Young brains need to practice and achieve a high level of coordinated activity before they can focus on comprehension and critical thinking.
The demands of writing create neural activity that could be considered “brain exercise”. I know I see it that way. Taking notes at the high school and college level requires synthesis; the cognitive act of summarizing and condensing a lecture into a shorter message that you write down quickly. It is a mental skill not required when you take verbatim notes on a laptop. Oops.
Simply put, the reason keyboarding and digital access isn’t enough is simple: by the time struggling writers are able to put their thoughts into words in a digital format, they have already developed frustration and even aversion to engaging in writing in any form.
This is unacceptable to me. Clever and creative kids are learning to dislike language arts because they can’t write with enough skill and speed. I have struggling writers ask me: “How many words do I need in each sentence, and how many sentences” This isn’t making them develop their ability to compose anything. It is making them hate language arts. At a time where communication skills are essential to success at any profession.
Kickstart Kindergarten: Fun, Well-Designed, and Easy to Teach:
This workbook is the one you want to give your new preschool graduate this summer! Kindergarten has become more academic. That isn’t an endorsement. It is a fact, and the kindest thing to do for children is to give them the best materials to achieve the skills they need to succeed. This book is designed to boost the automaticity needed to go to kindergarten. What is that? To perform language arts curriculum, your child needs to be able to write with ease. If they have to think about how a letter is made, that takes away the brainpower needed to think about spelling and expression. Whole language has been proven to be a whole failure. There are teachers who haven’t read the research and administrators stuck in 1985 when they finished grad school. You can’t help them, but you can help your child!
Here are some, but not all, of the terrific features of this workbook:
- As with all HWT books, the paper is sturdy and won’t tear with repeated erasing or careless handling.
- The individual letter pages start with tracing and fade to independence.
- The gray boxes help kids with consistent and age-appropriate sizing and avoid reversals. BTW, reversals are normal at this age. Preventing reversals is even better than correcting them. This book does both.
- Each sample is placed near the space available for a child to write. They don’t need to move their hand or copy the errors they made in the previous attempt (big issue for any kid with ocular control issues or visual organization issues!)
- Letters are grouped into developmentally-correct bunches, based on the later pre-K motor developmental milestones. This means that an “A” isn’t the first letter learned. Letters that are all vertical and horizontal lines are the easiest to form, so they are first.
- There are still coloring opportunities and plenty of chances to repeat and practice.
- They include pages for parents and teachers to use as formation references. You can’t teach writing if you aren’t sure how a letter is supposed to be formed. I will confess that after taking the evaluation course, I found out that I have some very bad habits that probably date back to preschool. And never got fixed.
- Numbers are not ignored. Numbers are presented in order, but their formation is actually not far from a developmental progression.
Here are some screen shots to get you excited about this book:
Is your child entering first grade, but clearly in need of more practice?
These books aren’t going to make them feel self-conscious about needing help. Take off the cover if you are worried that they will be embarrassed to use a book with “Kindergarten” in the title. And tell them that this is the easiest way to get better at handwriting …fast! You have their back, as always!