Handwriting is an important skill that children need to perform well academically and also in everyday life. Handwriting can be a difficult task for many children as it involves various components such as fine/visual motor skills, hand strength, grasping skills, visual spatial skills, and attention. There are many ways to help increase all of these skills to improve a child’s handwriting!
Increase Hand strength
Increasing hand strength can improve hand endurance and ease of writing. Having weak intrinsic hand muscles can cause frustration and fatigue when writing. Signs of hand fatigue can be frequently switching hands, grasp, or hand strain when writing. Some children will even verbalize that their hand is tired! Ways to increase a child’s hand strength are pinching clothespins, theraputty, play doh, molding clay, coloring, and tweezer activities.
Using a Multisensory Approach
Kids learn through utilizing all of their senses and using a variety of modalities to learn. Using a multisensory approach can help improve your child’s ability to identify, recall, and form the letters of the alphabet. For example, have them create the letters using play doh, draw the letters in shaving cream using their fingers, or writing with chalk can all work towards improving their handwriting ability.
Facilitate the Correct Grasp
Using an age-appropriate and efficient grasp is important for fine motor control and efficiency when writing. If you think your child isn’t grasping a writing utensil correctly it could be beneficial to consult an occupational therapist to learn strategies to facilitate the appropriate grasp on a writing utensil. Some strategies an occupational therapist may recommend is utilizing a wide diameter writing utensil, utilizing a grip on the writing utensil, or using a shorter length writing utensil to facilitate the correct grasp.
Improve Visual Motor Skills
Visual motor skills or “hand-eye coordination” is an important skill for your child to have as visual motor skills are important for handwriting. You can easily help improve your child’s visual motor skills in relation to fine motor tasks by having them practice mazes, dot-to-dots, follow the paths, and tracing activities!
Adapt the paper
Adapting the writing paper can help a child to better align, form, and space their letters until these skills improve. For example, you can make the margins wider, highlight the lines, place dots on the paper for where you want the child to start the letters, etc.
Make it fun!
There are several ways to make handwriting fun this way your child won’t even realize they are working hard! There are a lot of great apps for a phone or Ipad that can help your child learn to form the different letters correctly such as 123s & ABCs or Letter School. You can also build in handwriting to a fun obstacle course or with a creative craft!
Is your child having difficulty with holding a writing utensil, writing their letters, or with letter alignment and spacing? 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.