Learning to write is a fun and exciting time for your child as they learn to communicate in a new way! Handwriting is important for daily life skills across the lifespan and for academic success. Handwriting is a complex process that requires a variety of skills all used simultaneously. Your child will need good posture, grasp skills, hand-eye coordination, hand strength/endurance, visual processing skills, and more!
A child who has difficulty with handwriting may be struggling in one or more skill area. An occupational therapist can evaluate and then if needed, create a treatment plan to improve skills and develop their handwriting ability.
Under the guidance of an occupational therapist, there are steps you can do at home to help support your child’s handwriting development. Below are some helpful suggestions and activities for you to do with your child at home:
- Hand strength is important for endurance when handwriting and for grasping a writing utensil. At home you can try these activities to increase hand strength:
- playing with play doh – pinch it, roll it, use cookie cutters, etc.
- use clothespins
- pick up small items with tongs or tweezers
- pop cubes
- Core strength is essential for postural control and maintaining an upright posture when writing at a table. Having a weak core can also impact a child’s ability to use their upper extremities in an efficient manner which can impede their handwriting abilities. To increase core strength try:
- yoga poses
- wheelbarrow walks
- engaging in activities in a variety of play positions
- animal walks
- Improving hand-eye coordination (visual motor skills) and visual perceptual skills are important for your child to be able to have proper letter formation, word spacing, letter sizing, differentiating between letters, and alignment on a line. Below are some fun ways to improve hand-eye coordination:
- completing mazes or dot-to-dots
- coloring inside the lines
- ipad Apps: Dexteria/Dexteria Jr, Bugs and Buttons, TouchMe UnColor
- jigsaw puzzles
- sorting and matching games
- find the hidden picture or I Spy books
- Use a variety of mediums for your child to learn the letters of the alphabet. This will help with recalling letters and will help with formation when it comes to writing:
- draw letters in sand or shaving cream
- finger paint letters
- create letters out of clay or play doh
The above activities are helpful to support the underlying skills needed for good handwriting, from hand-eye coordination to appropriate grip strength. An occupational therapist can evaluate your child and recommend other activities to support their specific needs.
If your child is having difficulty with developing their handwriting skills, contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.