Rhythmic Writing is the backbone of educational therapy. The purpose of Rhythmic Writing is to meet any or all of these goals:
1. To develop the ability to do intermodal tasks (2 or more things at the same time)
2. To establish hemispheric specialization for language
3. To improve visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination)
4. To improve directionality concepts
5. To improve visual sequential memory
Developing the ability to do intermodal tasks is a life skill that is essential. For example, when we take notes while listening to a speaker, we are doing an intermodal task. When we drive a car, we are usually able to steer the vehicle, operate the gas and brake pedals (and for some of us a clutch), observe and respond appropriately to traffic signals and road signs, and carry on a conversation with someone riding with us. Rhythmic Writing develops and strengthens the ability to do intermodal tasks by requiring the student to trace the eights/copy the motifs and verbalize the counts. Changing direction on the eights also develops this skill, as do the math problems that the student solves during the eights in therapy. Remember that it is not necessary for students to solve math problems during the eights at home. However, changing direction should occur, and that is one of the reasons for you to supervise your child when he/she does Rhythmic Writing.
A student who has difficulty in the language area will benefit from developing one hemisphere of the brain to be the dominant hemisphere for language. (This dominant hemisphere is usually opposite of the child's dominant hand.) When a dominant hemisphere is established for specializing in language, the student becomes more organized in his/her thinking. Rhythmic Writing helps to develop hemispheric dominance.
In addition to developing a dominant hemisphere, it is also important for a student to integrate both hemispheres of the brain. Crossing the mid-line forces both hemispheres to be involved in the task and thus develops that integration.
The student's directionality concepts are strengthened as he/she does left/right counts. Parent supervision of Rhythmic Writing is necessary to ensure that the student is indeed saying those counts correctly. Incorrect directionality must not become more firmly entrenched in a child's thinking.
As a student does Rhythmic Writing faithfully, he/she should become very familiar with the sequence of motifs and the corresponding letters of the alphabet. This development of sequential memory will carry over to reading and spelling, where the order of letters determines words.
Parental supervision of Rhythmic Writing at home is essential. Parents need to give the commands to change direction, thus strengthening the development of intermodal abilities. Parents need to be sure that shoulders are straight so that the mid-line is crossed, thus strengthening hemispheric integration. Parents need to check that counts are being said precisely, thus strengthening directionality concepts.
When Rhythmic Writing is done faithfully at school and at home, a student usually makes significant improvement. Progress in therapy is slowed when Rhythmic Writing is only done sporadically.