It is with great enthusiasm that I introduce the world to my new book, Fun Strokes. My name is Linda Craig Dennis and I am a pediatric occupational therapist. One of the most frequent referrals we receive as occupational therapists working with children is handwriting referrals. Kids who, for many different reasons, have difficulty learning the complex skill of handwriting. When working with these kiddos I learned that many are unable to draw simple shapes. If children are unable to draw simple shapes, then you can forget about teaching them how to write letters. Simple fix right? Just teach them how to do it. But there was a problem. You see, it turned out that most of the kids I’ve worked with had no interest in drawing basic shapes. Sure, they’d engage in multi-sensory experiences like playing and drawing shapes in shaving cream, finger paints and, play dough. But as soon as I handed the child a writing utensil, the interest in the activity was lost. It seemed as though everything I tried did little or nothing to spark interest. We all know that for most kids if there is no interest there is no attention to the task. If children aren’t motivated to pay attention, very little progress is to be made.
One day, I had a clever idea. Why not use magnets, colorful and fun magnets that can be used on vertical surfaces. This way the child is working at eye level and visual attention is captured. Not to mention the abundance of other skills working on a vertical surface provides. I went to work creating these magnets, hoping that my clients would be intrigued by the hands-on, interactive, and vibrant shapes placed in front of them. When I implemented the magnets into my practice, I knew instantly that they were a hit. Even my toughest kiddos who had very short attention spans, would stand at the easel, place the magnets on the easel and use their marker to draw the missing pre-writing strokes. They loved wiping the surface clean and doing it again and again.
This has inspired me to make the Fun Strokes program available for all preschool kiddos and any child who struggles with learning how to write. All kids benefit from being prepared for school. There are so many challenges to school success, let’s not let handwriting be one of them. What good is a house without a strong foundation? Before little ones enter kindergarten, give them the strong foundation they need for handwriting success, the Fun Strokes prewriting program!