Learning to write is an important milestone for children; it marks a time in their development where they are able to communicate through an entirely new medium, and begins a lifetime of that communication. 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).
A child who has difficulty with handwriting may have this difficulty because of a deficiency in one or more of the requirements for this complex process. An occupational therapist can help evaluate a child’s muscle tone, control, coordination, endurance, and strength to determine if therapy is needed to get them up to speed.
Below are some ways an occupational therapist may help a child with their handwriting:
- Evaluate the child’s physical strength
- Teach proper posture, including the coordination of body, arms, hands, head, eyes, etc.
- Analyze and treat any problems with fine motor control, which is needed to hold and manipulate a pencil or pen
- Evaluate visual perceptual skills, including their ability to form letters
- Collaborate with classroom teachers to support handwriting curriculum and suggest effective strategies for children who struggle with it
- Work with parents to suggest home practice activities to support handwriting development
Early identification of difficulties with handwriting, along with proper treatment, is critical for school success. In the older elementary grades and beyond, teachers often measure what their students are learning through their written work. Appropriate handwriting skills are necessary to ensure that they are meeting their potential in school!