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Ask the Occupational Therapist

Proper Letter Alignment


This edition’s $50.00 Amazon gift card winner is Pam Griffith! Here is her winning question:

I have tried many different ways to work with many students who have the problem of letter alignment.  What I have tried are many styles of paper, highlighting the writing line in various colors, talked about the importance of letter alignment, yet they continue to ignore the writing line and letters/words are "floating.” Any helpful suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Pam Griffith, COTA
Delevan Elementary School
Pioneer Central Schools
Delevan, NY


Dear Pam,

Have your student sort the letters by size (uppercase “T” and lowercase ”t” are both tall, while lowercase “a” and lowercase “p” are both short). This will allow you to determine if he or she understands size of letters. Try using red baseline paper so that the student has a visual anchor. You can print a sample from our ZB FontsOnline Plus website. Red Wikki Stix® can also be used as the baseline. You may need to use larger lined paper such as Grade K or Grade 1 size. This will visually help the student "see" the separate lines. You can use a dressmaker’s tracing wheel to "emboss" the red baseline as a tactile cue to stop. The midline can also be highlighted.

Remember, students will only be able to print at the level of their cognitive age. For example, even though your student may be 10 years old, if his cognitive age is five years old, he will only be able to print at a five-year-old level. Five and six year-olds understand the shape of a letter’s lines but are not always able to understand letter size. Understanding of letter size usually emerges at age six and a half.

Thank you for your question. We hope this information is helpful!


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