Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | one year ago

Improve Your Child’s Handwriting Skills with These Expert Tips

The school year’s gotten off to a great start – but suddenly, you’ve noticed your child’s facing handwriting woes. If your little one’s having trouble mastering this important skill, there are ways you can help them improve.

Michelle Yoder, center manager at Carolinas Rehabilitation Pediatric Therapy-Pineville, shares these expert tips to help your child feel more confident putting pencil to paper. Develop Motor Skills Strong motor skills lay the foundation for good handwriting. Have your child work with tools other than pencils to promote fine motor skills. Some good ones to try: eye droppers, tongs, tweezers, modelling clay, beads, or placing pennies into a piggy bank. And give your child opportunities to work with the writing utensil without forming letters. This could be in the form of mazes, connect-the-dots games or stencil designs. Find the Fun Sensory writing is a great way to make writing fun. Try forming letters with new and different materials like pipe cleaners, shaving cream, finger paint or salt on a cookie sheet. Get Physical Strengthening the core, shoulder and muscles of your child’s hand can translate to improved handwriting skills. Have your child try these movements and activities: • Play and draw on vertical surfaces • Prop up on their forearms on tummy to play games or do puzzles • Do yoga poses • Engage in activities like swimming and karate • Hang from the monkey bars • Stack large blocks or bean bags • Pinch clothespins or chip clips • Work with magnets on the refrigerator • Scrunch up tissue paper or newspaper in one hand • Tear paper to make a mosaic • Pop bubble wrap with their fingers • Scoop and pour rice into different-sized containers Create a Super Set-Up Once your child’s ready to get writing, make sure they’re set up for success. Check that: • The room lighting is adequate. • Your child has good posture. Are their feet flat on the floor? If the chair is too big, put a couple of books under their feet. Are their arms resting comfortably on the table? • Your child’s non-dominant hand is holding the paper still. • They’ve got a mature pencil grip. Try using a broken crayon or pencil to promote a nice grasp. • They have an appropriate area to write in. Give a young child a large rectangular box for his name, or small boxes for each letter. Older children will do well with lines. If you’re concerned about your child’s handwriting, don’t just look at their writing output, but how they got there. If the pencil grip looks awkward, if it takes a long time, if the work is sloppy and difficult to read, if there are avoidance behaviors, and, especially if there are tears, you may want to seek the help of an occupational therapist to help get your child up to speed.