If you are getting ready to begin educational therapy, you might be wondering, “Why do I need to buy a chalkboard? Is it really that important?”
Yes, it really is that important, and I assure you, you won’t regret it.
“Does it have to be a chalkboard? What about a whiteboard?”
It needs to be a chalkboard, not a whiteboard (unless the student is allergic to chalk dust), because of the friction – the “drag” that slows students down and provides a more tactile experience. Students will also use a chalk holder to help avoid chalk on the hands, and to more ideally mimic the holding of a pencil.
“But how can writing on a chalkboard make a difference?”
Glad you asked! There are many skills practiced during the activity we call Rhythmic Writing, such as focus, perseverance, self-control, self-monitoring, self-evaluation, visual discrimination, posture, correct pencil grip, and many, many more, but today I want to focus on one special skill: crossing the midline.
What Is Crossing the Midline? Part of the value of Rhythmic Writing is that it provides so much continual exercise in crossing the body’s midline.
What is the midline? Think of it as an imaginary line going down the middle of the body from head to toe. Perhaps you have heard the term, “left-brained” and “right-brained”. Our brains have two hemispheres, the left and the right, which tend to dominate in different kinds of activities.
Crossing the midline with an arm or leg helps get these two brain hemispheres communicating and working together, which is very important for skills such as tracking with the eyes across the page in order to read, and crossing the hand to the other side of the body to begin writing across a page.
Crossing the body is also necessary for such everyday skills such as tying shoes, taking off a T-shirt, brushing hair or teeth, putting on makeup, or shaving one’s face.
Then there are those other activities that enrich our lives such as playing an instrument (drums and piano anyone?), doing arts and crafts, or any activity that normally requires both hands to complete, such as holding a book very still with two hands so that it can be read – very difficult for some children!
Rhythmic Writing is an excellent way to add meaningful and consistent practice in crossing the body while performing smooth and rhythmic large-muscle motions. Of course there are other ways as well, namely sports, such as taekwondo, karate, ball sports, dancing, gymnastics, etc. We highly recommend that your student participate in whatever type of sport he or she is the happiest doing.
In an educational therapy setting, Rhythmic Writing is the activity that most easily builds this skill and gets those two brain hemispheres communicating. Besides using smooth cursive writing at the board, we use other special patterns (motifs) along with mental math exercises as students gain more and more comfort and ability with the process.
In short, Rhythmic Writing complements skill acquisition in other areas such as reading and writing, sports, music, the arts, and even daily life activities. That’s just a small part of the reason why Rhythmic Writing is a powerful and important part of educational therapy.
If you’ve been at this a while, what growth have you observed in your student through Rhythmic Writing? Please share in the comments below what your experience has been.