Learning to write marks a milestone in a child’s development where they are able to communicate in a new way. Whereas learning the spoken word dominated the early years of their life, mastering the written word by learning to read and write begins a lifetime of communicating through a new medium.
Handwriting is a complex process that requires a child to combine their language skills (what they’re writing) with their body posture. Writing utensil grip, letter formation, eye coordination, and many other processes (how they’re writing) are all steps of motor coordination.
A child who has difficulty with handwriting may have struggle because of a deficiency in one or more of the motor requirements. An occupational therapist can help evaluate a child’s muscle tone and control, coordination, endurance, and strength to determine if therapy is needed to get them up to speed.
However, under the guidance of an occupational therapist, there are steps you can do at home to help support your child’s handwriting development. Read below for suggestions from the American Occupational Therapy Association!
- Encourage your child to participate in games, sports, and activities that support visual, motor, and coordination skills, such as outdoor sports, playing catch, and active indoor games.
- Heavily encourage the use of eating utensils during meals to support hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and to support the development of a steady grip.
- Provide opportunities for your child to “exercise” their hands, such as using cookie cutters or similar activities.
- Encourage handwriting practice at home by writing handwritten letters to grandparents, friends, or pen pals.
The above tips 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 individually and suggest other activities to support their specific needs.