Handwriting is a complex skill that is essential for achieving academic success at school. It is a skill that requires maintaining a proper pencil grip, letter formation, and an upright body posture along with coordination of eyes, arms and hands
Since handwriting is the means by which children’s academic performance is assessed, a child struggling with handwriting may soon become frustrated and lose motivation in academics.
What are handwriting problems?
If a child has difficulties with handwriting performance they might:
- Have difficulty in holding a pencil and producing written work
- Have a messy and illegible writing
- Write letters outside of the line or that are of incorrect size.
- Be slow to complete written tasks
- Easily get tired of writing or typing
- Experience Inability to express ideas through writing
- Avoid writing. Prefer verbally explaining things
- Be unable to apply appropriate pressure required to write
- Use both arms together poorly
- Have poorly graded movements (control of the speed of movement)
- Face challenges with visual-motor coordination (using eyes and hands together)
What factors affect the handwriting of a child?
Handwriting problems can be caused by several external factors and internal factors. External factors such as improper adjustment of desk-chair height, inconsistent handwriting instruction etc. can contribute to problems with handwriting of a child.
In addition to that internal factors such as vision problems, poor hand-eye coordination, poor pencil grip, developmental delays in fine motor skills, and poor shoulder and wrist stability can also result in handwriting issues.
How to improve your child’s handwriting development?
Occupational therapy can help with your child’s handwriting problems and equip them with the skills they need to succeed. An occupational therapist generally works with the specific issues that a child has due to which they are struggling with producing appropriate written work. An OT supports your child in developing proper posture, strengthening their muscles, and learning to form letters correctly after conducting detailed handwriting evaluations and assessments. These evaluations help them determine why your child is struggling with handwriting and what strategies can they employ to support their handwriting development.
What can I do at home?
- Encourage your child to participate in different activities and sports so that their visual, motor, and coordination skills may improve.
- Praise when they are learning new things that may be difficult for them to master.
- Require children to use utensils while eating to improve grip.
- Practice activities that involve a lot of hand movement e.g. using scissors.
- Encourage writing e.g. by asking them to write letters to friends and family or write grocery lists for you
- Practice letter formation.
- Discuss your child’s condition with their teachers at school in order to work together on your child’s improvement.
- Practice pencil fluency by using patterns designed to enhance fluid pencil movement.
- Practice different pencil grips e.g. change the size and shape of the pencil or the paper/board they are writing on.
Materials that can help improve children’s handwriting
- Silly Putty (can increase the strength in his/her hands)
- Play doh tool kit (kneading and pulling it strengthens the small muscles of their hands.
- Art easel (writing or drawing on the vertical surface of an easel requires maintaining an upright posture and improves arm and shoulder movements)
- Operation board game (using tweezers improves pencil grip)
- Pegs (use pegs to make an animal face on a paper plate to build finger strength)
- Colouring books (improves pencil grip