Friday, January 22, 2016

National Handwriting Day

Thanks to the folks at the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, tomorrow is “National Handwriting Day.” The date of January 23rd was chosen in honor of the birthday of John Hancock, whose name has become slang for a signature. Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, and his large and distinctive handwriting has become among the most famous in our nation's history.

The keystrokes being entered to write this blog serve as a reminder, however, that handwriting is arguably less crucial a skill than it once was. Nevertheless, as we discussed in a prior blog post, some research suggests that handwriting may assist in the learning process in a way that typing cannot. There are also certainly situations in which handwriting is the only available means of written communication, or even a note-to-self. Handwriting clarity thus serves as an important tool for conveying information as well as for keeping organized. Students with graphomotor difficulties often face a unique array of challenges across academic areas.

Occupational therapists can help struggling students to strengthen the abilities underlying effective handwriting as well as to use assistive devices such as unique pencil grip products. We at The Yellin Center tend to recommend skill building in conjunction with bypass strategies, and so advise that work-arounds such as speech-to-text software should be considered as well, in appropriate contexts. Fluency in capturing and expressing information is important for optimizing the amount of material available for processing and the quality of ideas that can be generated. Therefore, it behooves students to use strategies that will help this fluency in the short-term while building the handwriting skills that will help them later.

          Happy Handwriting Day

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