Praxis der Psychomotorik: specialist article from the Schreibmotorik Institut on the SMI CompetenceWeb
Measuring children’s writing ability to provide them with early support – movement as the key to better writing: the SMI CompetenceWeb is a practical analytical tool for teachers in pre-school and primary school.
Writing by hand is a very complicated process for children: they need to coordinate 17 joints and more than 30 muscles perfectly in the hand and arm system to produce personalised, flowing, legible and efficient handwriting. Yet children’s writing ability varies widely. Taking this into account is a big challenge. The SMI CompetenceWeb helps with this. It helps teachers and child care workers to reliably and easily measure the writing ability of children aged four to seven in order to establish the appropriate form of personalised support for each child.
With curiosity and the relentless will to learn to write
Tim and Mara are seven years of age and started writing their name at the early age of four. At this time, they both discovered handwriting voluntarily and were intrinsically motivated to learn more. Most children in Germany (61.4 per cent) start writing their name at the age of four. That was the result of a representative survey of mothers by the Schreibmotorik Institut in 2016. It is enormously important to promote and maintain this desire so that learning to write “correctly” at school is successful and does not lead to unnecessary frustration.
Individual support for writing skills
Tim and Mara are now both in the first half of year two and can already write sentences in uppercase and lowercase letters. Yet each child’s writing ability differs significantly. While Mara is able to write legibly and cleanly, Tim seems to have problems. But why is that?
The SMI CompetenceWeb provides clearly defined guidelines for personalised observation and assessment of children. The teacher or childcare worker observes the children’s spontaneous movement or action behaviours in different play and everyday situations with specific core tasks, and enters these on the observation sheet. For the analysis phase, they simply add all the points from each area and mark the corresponding spot on the SMI CompetenceWeb. This simple graphic representation provides a personal competence profile for each child and shows at a glance the potential areas of support. The included exercises help to develop weaker skills.
Good starting capital for education success
Personalised observation and support for Tim using the SMI CompetenceWeb has helped significantly: one year later, Tim is having fun writing by hand again. He has understood and internalised what he should focus upon. Tim’s parents and teacher praise him for his progress and continue to provide targeted support to help him develop fast, legible, personalised handwriting to ensure his move to secondary school will be successful.