Help Your Students Hit Handwriting Goals Without Occupational Therapy

April 03, 2019Occupational Therapy0 Comments

Try This More Efficient Way to Help Kids Get Their Handwriting on Track

When I provided Occupational Therapy in public schools, I often found myself frustrated.

occupational therapy handwriting toolsMany IEP teams would add OT to students’ plans, referring the children to me for help with their handwriting.

I worked to determine whether weaknesses in attention, fine motor skills, postural control, sensory processing, visual perception, or visual-motor integration caused these students’ poor performance. But often, no underlying deficit existed.

I felt there must be a better way—a way to make Occupational Therapy handwriting tools available to regular education students who simply needed a handwriting boost.

And so Pencil Power™ was born.

Today, this flexible and fun program is one of our most widely used and well-received. It’s a great example of our commitment at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) to provide innovative, efficient, and effective therapy that does the most good for as many students as possible.

Five Factors Making Pencil Power a Smart Handwriting Improvement Solution

Created by Occupational Therapists, Pencil Power™ isn’t another handwriting curriculum, a substitute for classroom handwriting instruction, or a quick fix for handwriting problems.

It is a weekly, 30-minute Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) program for all students who struggle with fine and visual motor skills and need to make their written work more legible.

Pencil Power™ is:

  • Adaptable

    It can be used with a small group, a whole class, or with children one-on-one. The program’s adaptability means you won’t have to spend money on multiple OT handwriting tools in order to reach all of your students who need to improve their skills.

  • occupational therapy handwriting toolsVersatile

    Teachers, therapists, instructional assistants, parent volunteers—we’ve worked with schools where each of these successfully lead Pencil Power groups. You already have the people you need to make this program work.

  • Accessible

    No formal OT screenings needed! A basic screener in the group leader manual helps leaders give all students appropriate levels of help. You can be confident no student’s handwriting needs are going unmet.

  • Data-driven

    The program’s pre- and post-tests collect concrete data on student progress and group effectiveness, so you’ll be able to accurately measure and report on how students’ handwriting improves.

  • Supportive

    Instructional Support Teachers and Core Teams consistently praise the program for helping them identify struggling students. It lets them quickly discern whether children need supplemental handwriting instruction and practice, or full-fledged Occupational Therapy interventions. Fewer unnecessary referrals free up OTs to spend more time with those who truly need their specialized help.

Helping Improve Handwriting Without Occupational Therapy Referrals

Pencil Power also yields solid data to support the conclusion that a student requires further testing to identify other areas of academic need.

The program comprises two six-week sessions. In each session, generally, 33%-50% of students receive the practice and strategies they need to get their handwriting skills on track.

For example, in a group of 12 students, four to six students won’t need any further support after the first session. The remaining six to eight attend the second session, after which another 33%-50% need no further support to meet OT handwriting goals. The remaining three or four students are typically also receiving Tier 3 instruction for reading or math and will move toward a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE), which will likely include a recommendation for OT evaluation.

Pencil Power serves as an effective, standard pre-referral intervention in elementary schools where first- and second-graders exhibit fine motor and handwriting needs. While the program’s “sweet spot” is first grade, its second session also makes a great starting point for second graders who need to practice sizing, spacing, letter to line orientation, and letter reversals.

Put Pencil Power to Work in Your School District

Now you know: Pencil Power is a proven OT handwriting tool for helping students realize the power within their grasp without relying on formal OT referrals. Strategies from its group dynamic have the potential to reach and benefit an entire classroom, but its individual impact is also considerable.

To learn more about bringing Pencil Power to the students in your district, contact me, Candice Donnelly-Knox, at, or head over to to get more information and place your order today!