I’m Nikki. After seven fun-filled undergraduate years at Western Michigan University in my hometown of Kalamazoo, then three graduate years in New York, I finally graduated as an Occupational Therapist from NYU with a master’s degree I could work and make a difference with. I thank God all the time, that despite my extraordinary student loan debt, that I at LEAST love what I do.
I’ve been providing school-based Occupational Therapy services since I graduated in 2001, and every year throughout these years, the majority of the kids I worked with have had handwriting difficulties, and most of the time, they weren’t forming their letters correctly, which made their handwriting difficult to read.
Now I love working with kids….I love teaching them to do things the way I do, and I especially love seeing the progress they make learning skills the way that I teach them to do it. Sometimes however, some of these kids, no matter what I did, no matter what I said, no matter how many times or how many different ways I showed them how to do it, and no matter how many times we practiced, they just didn’t get it!!! Their handwriting STILL SUCKED!!!! It wasn’t their faults though.
What I was doing obviously wasn’t working for these kids……so one day I decided to make rhymes for each letter, with hopes that they would eventually remember how to write letters the right way, using the rhymes I created…..and it worked…..Rhythm & Writing WORKED!!!!!!! Tristan who just started to make eye contact when someone called his name, quickly learned how to write T: Long line down and across the top; r: down back up and a hook; i: short line down and a dot at the top; s: up around across around and up; t: long line down and across the middle; a: make a c close it up bring it down; n: down back up and a hump…..and sang along with me as he wrote them, until he started doing it on his own. It was AMAZING!!!! Rhythm & Writing WORKED!!! He finally learned how to write his name independently, and other did kids too!!!
As a matter of fact and without exaggeration, EVERY SINGLE child who has used this program with repetition and consistency, those with special needs and those without, have made handwriting improvement. Despite the proven effectiveness of Rhythm & Writing however, I did not officially launch the program until 2017, after more than ten years since the first rhyme was written.
My first poor-man’s copyright with just the formation rhymes happened in 2008. In 2009, my co-author Cecily, her brother Jason (the first illustrator), and myself, locked ourselves up in a hotel for a weekend to write the stories behind the rhymes with The Get Write Crew with a long-term vision of video productions. There’s Hip Hop frog the lyricist, Big Country bear on the guitar, Jazzy Faith bunny who sings and plays the keyboard, and Mo Rock monkey, an amputee who magically works the drums…..kids LOVE them!!! At that point, book designs changed from clip-art to pictures drawn by illustrators, then songs were created with lyric videos, which were incorporated into the website. In 2017, I finally felt comfortable enough to launch the program, and in February of this year, the official program release was hosted!!!
From these experiences and transitions, and figuring things out as I go, I can totally relate to those artists who seem to pop up on the scene but have actually been on the scene behind the scenes for years and years….and I’m just getting started! The program is basically unknown beyond individual introductions, and I’m still working with an undefined just make it happen budget, but one thing’s for sure…..It’s time to BLOW UP, and I’m SOOOO EXCITED!!! Let’s go.