Do you ever see your child’s paper come home from school with all of the letters smashed together like one gigantic, run on word? Or are the letters and words stretched out really far making it difficult to read? If you notice your child
frequently writing this way, then he may have difficulty with proper spacing.
Spacing issues could be caused by a number of skill set deficits, but two of the most common culprits for spacing difficulties are deficits in visual perceptual and visual motor skills. The two concepts are similar yet have distinct differences and both can interfere with writing issues like word spacing.
What are Visual-Perceptual and Visual Motor Deficits?
Visual perception is an umbrella term that encompasses several specific skill sets but overall, visual perception is one’s ability to process information about and object and how those objects are in spatial relation to one another and their environment. In other words, visual perception helps one to”make sense” of what one is seeing.
Visual motor skills integrates visual perception with the act of gross and fine motor movements to place the pencil where the eye thinks it needs to go. Fortunately, developing visual perceptual and visual motor skills can be taught using FUN activities that don’t involve traditional writing practice. Engaging your child in these fun activities will be more motivating and exciting for them, which in turn should produce more effort and yield better results!
5 Ways to Improve Spacing
1. Do a gross motor obstacle course- Create a homemade obstacle course that requires your child to navigate through and around obstacles to develop visual perceptual and visual motor skills.
2. Jump into the spaces of sentences- Write a sentence out using only one word per sheet of paper. Spread the papers out so there is a large space between each word. Have the child read the word on the sheet then jump over it into the empty space while they say the word “space” for each word and space in the sentence. This method teaches whole body learning to help remember to use spaces.
3. Build something with blocks- Encourage your child to build a tower, castle, bridge, or building with blocks to develop visual perceptual and visual motor skills
4. Use Wiki Stix or Bendaroos to follow lines, mazes, shapes, and letters
This activity works on visual perceptual skills, motor planning, fine motor strengthening, and fine motor dexterity, plus kids love to play with them! The Wiki Stix stick better on plastic surfaces such as page protectors, laminated sheets of paper, and plastic overlays rather than plain paper (although plain paper will work too). Have the child press the Wiki Stix down on top of the lines for follow the maze or path.
5. For a quick fix, use these compensation strategies – The list below can help improve spacing but are more compensatory strategies rather than developing new skills; however, I have seen great improvements in spacing using these simple strategies too….
1. Use an ink pad to fingerprint spaces – Using your non-writing hand,leave a fingerprint space between each word
2, Use Graph Paper – Put one letter or number per box to keep spacing aligned
As with anything else, practice and repetition are essential for yielding positive results. Changing writing habits will take time and effort, but add these techniques into your routines hopefully you will see positive results too!
How did these activities work with your child? Leave me a comment and let me know!