Handwriting Workbook – Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics by Samarra St. Hilaire

Handwriting Workbook – Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics by Samarra St. Hilaire

Having raised three children and been a teacher in elementary schools for thirty years, I know the importance of having an easy, child-friendly method to teach hand writing skills. Samarra St. Hilaire, a Licensed and Registered Occupational Therapist, has written a much needed workbook titled Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics. So that there is no confusion, Ms. St. Hilaire’s workbook teaches “PRINTING” not cursive writing. In many schools cursive writing is not taught at all and has not been for ten years or more.

At the beginning of her 74 page workbook, Samarra writes, “Although handwriting appears to be an easy task, it is far from simple. Handwriting requires the use of numerous skills such as visual motor, fine motor, and visual perceptual skills, to name a few. Rushing to handwriting and demanding perfection often results in the development of bad habits, confusion, and lack of confidence. At times this can cause a child to shut down. Also, once bad habits are developed it is difficult to make changes as a child approaches upper grades.

This book is designed so handwriting instruction can be interactive rather than having a child complete the pages independently.  Don’t try to complete several pages within one day, place emphasis on quality rather than quantity.”

Samarra St Hilaire has worked with children with varying diagnoses. This workbook consists of charts, information, and tips for parents/therapist/educators. In addition, the workbook consists of certificates of completion throughout the book along with encouragement. One can easily see that Samarra’s workbook was made by someone who could relate with kids.

Features of Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics:

  • Colorful Certificate of Completion after each stage
  • Instructions short and easy to execute.
  • Can hear the voice of experience of working with children on every page.
  • Illustrations of same boy as you move along in the book telling you how far you have come and what is coming next. Ex. “You are almost done. Stay focused! I am really proud of you.”
  • At the end of each stage there is a Review followed by an Visual Activity Memory.
  • Colorful illustrations of simple objects that start with the letter you are learning in that lesson.
  • Pages are not crowded, so child will not be overwhelmed.
  • The same pattern of questions is used for most letters so kids know what to expect.
  • Words of encouragement as child progresses in the book.
  • Caregiver may modify activities to accommodate a child who is finding the activity too difficult… success breeds further success.
  • Hand dominance chart.
  • Tips to learn cutting skills.
  • Illustrations on positioning for writing tasks while standing and sitting at different heights.

About Handwriting Workbook: Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics by Samarra St. Hilaire

Writing in Stages is a handwriting workbook that addresses proper formation of upper case letters of the alphabet by providing step by step instructions.  In addition, step by step instruction for proper formation of basic shapes (i.e. circle, square and triangle) is included in the beginning of the workbook. The workbook begins with letters that are simplistic in formation gradually progressing to the more challenging letters.

Writing in Stages consists of illustrations for each letter in addition to helpful tips that are designed to foster a sense of confidence and mastery throughout the learning process. Writing in Stages also consists of certificates of completion, a hand dominance chart, and cutting tips.

This workbook is designed to be an interactive learning experience between a child and parent, educator, or therapist. Writing in Stages is recommended for ages 4-5, and older children who are developmentally delayed.  The book was designed to incorporate phonemic awareness and visual memory skill for writing letters.

Excerpt from Writing in Stages by Samarra St. Hilaire

Page 19 – Time to Write
Hand dominance is the preference as to which hand one utilizes to complete activities. It is
found that more individuals are right handed. Since being left handed is less common, there
have been instances when left handed children were forced to use their right hand. Do not force
hand dominance. One’s dominant hand can perform more precise and skilled movements of the
When writing position the pencil in the middle of the paper. If the child switches between
hands it is an indication of possible fatigue, requiring a very brief resting period. Switching
between hands may also be the result of not fully establishing hand dominance. Hand
dominance should be fully established by the age of six. Position the pencil or crayon in midline
again. What hand did the child initiate writing and picking up the pencil? Is it consistent
or inconsistent? Utilize the hand dominance chart to track consistency of use when writing,
coloring, cutting, and eating. The hand dominance chart is located in the back of the book.

About the Author:

Samarra St. Hilaire is Licensed and Registered Occupational Therapist and author of Writing in Stages: Getting Back to BasicsSamarra St. Hilaire is Licensed and Registered Occupational Therapist who received her Bachelors of Science and Masters in Occupational Therapy from Long Island University in 2002. She has worked in the nursing home providing Occupational Therapy services for the geriatric population but the bulk of her experience has been with the pediatric population, 13 years of experience, specifically school based.

Samarra has worked with children ranging from preschool to high school aged with differing diagnosis including but not limited to Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, etc. Samarra believes that every child has potential and possesses his/her own unique talents. She enjoys collaborating with fellow therapist (i.e. PT, SLP, Behavior), teachers, and parents to assure optimal carry-over of skills.

Mrs. St. Hilaire has always been passionate about creating environmental modifications, creating/adapting equipment, worksheets, and tools based on a child’s individual needs. Writing in Stages is the first of many products to be released by Mrs. St. Hilaire.

Recognizing the emphasis being placed on quantity rather than quality in addition to the challenges that children with special needs face learning day-to-day tasks, Mrs. St. Hilaire decided to create the Writing in Stages workbook. Writing in Stages is a simple guide to learning how to draw basic shapes and printing uppercase letters of the alphabet while promoting confidence and mastery.

Read Also: Interview Samarra St. Hilaire, OTR/L, Author of Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics

Buy Writing in Stages: Getting Back to Basics by Samarra St. Hilaire Amazon.com  Amazon.ca

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.