It is so easy to think your child is capable of so much more and then realise half way through a project that they clearly are not…#mumfail. This is what happened to us when I decided to go against the grain of what others are doing, and throw Eva straight into handwriting. In my defence, we had already have an understanding of shapes and a sound understanding of sounds made by letters.
I found a handwriting book that parents were purchasing for children who were undertaking vision therapy (not CVI related, these are children with ocular issues; I scroll through these Facebook Pages out of interest) and actually purchased the book for my 4 year old to learn how to write before starting school, and then decided to purchase an extra copy ‘just in case’ it was suitable for Eva.
These books are great for kiddos who are at the 4 year old mark, but for $22 I could print out letters and pictures and staple together and more than likely come out cheaper. And if you are lucky, Australia Post sometimes sell large A3 notebooks with letter/number practising (Saw these after I purchase the above-mentioned book). So when I added postage, I ended up paying over $55 for two books.
The book is probably far too cluttered for Eva however we did attempt to modify. I went over the letters in a coloured marker and then Eva attempting to trace in a marker of her favorite colour. The premise behind the book is great, with lots of activities to get kids interested, and Eva was very keen to attempt the book which is fantastic!
Take a look at our attempts below. I am tempted to add the word ‘failed’ attempts, but I need to see this as a learning curve, that these exercises reiterate to me that she was not ready and there was/is still a lot of work to do.
When focusing on the first exercise (in the image above, the ‘big curve’ image), I covered everything else up with white paper. I used red marker to do the ‘big curve’ and then Eva used her blue marker to trace. We then moved onto the next image and so on. I assisted her with the third image as she said it was too overwhelming for her. And then she attempted to colour the grasshopper.
We then attempted to master a larger uppercase ‘G’. As you can see by Eva’s green marker attempt, she sees the letter as an ‘o’ almost – she said she thought the red lines connected. The great news though is that she followed the first half of the curve.
Following on from these exercises (which we undertook over several months, and still look through the book nowadays; Eva loves to ‘do some writing’), I was speaking to her Grade 2 teacher about this. I have had many discussions with Eva’s teacher about her vision and progress, so she is always keen to hear how she can continue with Eva’s vision work in the classroom. She promised she would let Eva write when she wanted to….and WOW the amount of progress made thanks to Eva being allowed to scribble on the whiteboard is wonderful! It’s funny how sometimes something clicks within a child. Eva’s teacher allowing her to write on the whiteboard at school has boosted Eva’s writing confidence immensely…take a look below:
We are still an incredibly long way from getting Eva writing clearer words, sentences, paragraphs etc, but the main premise behind this is that SHE WANTS TO WRITE. Her teacher and us at home have encouraged her to write if she doesn’t want to Braille, whether it’s random letters/words, it’s all part of the learning process. A great piece of insight given to me by Gordon Dutton is that it’s all kinesthetic learning, being physically engaged in the process, and repetition. Writing something over and over (such as her best friend’s name) is so important and much more meaningful. Eva now loves drawing pictures for her friends and then turning the page over and writing their name on the back. She does this almost daily, and again by doing this, it brings meaning to the writing rather than just jotting randomly.
A big part of learning the writing process is ensuring that when she does want to write, she starts at the left and moves along to the right after each letter. Such a simple concept but a child with a vision impairment does not know these simple concepts unless you tell them.
So overall, the handwriting book was not successful, but we did work out where she is at visually and what does drive Eva to concentrate on her writing. Yes I jumped the gun and I am sure professionals will say I should not have introduced her to such a concept yet, but for me, this exercise taught me where the gaps need to be filled, and more importantly, reiterate that she is improving and our hard work is paying off.
Once again, if you have any questions or stories of your own, shoot me an email!