Welcome back to Helping Hands Pediatric Therapy’s blog!
School is back in motion, and your child’s pencils should be, too! We thought that handwriting would be a great topic to discuss this week, and we have the perfect suggestions for any child learning to write, or children that need to improve their skills. If you’re interested, we also have some general milestones in handwriting and drawing for children 1-6 years written by MamaOT. The link to her blog is at the bottom of this page, along with some of her knowledge on age-specific milestones.
Handwriting is a learning process for children that may require some additional tools or guidance. You want to start off on the right foot (or hand!) and prevent any bad habits that your child could pick up. Often times this begins with your child’s grip. When your child begins learning how to write letters and words, their grip should be somewhat established by fine motor skills learned through simple tasks they have performed with their hands. As always, you still want to encourage a sturdy grip that does not block movement of the writing utensil, cause discomfort in the wrist or hand, or one that causes poor legibility. The primary grip that a child will learn as they begin handwriting is the tripod grip, shown below.
This way of grasping a pencil helps to reduce discomfort and improve legibility. Sometimes adding a rubber pencil grip helps to allign the fingers into this position. Practicing scissor cutting or play-dough activities can also promote muscle memory as to improve their grip as well.
Your child’s posture is also an easy way to make handwriting more comfortable. While writing on a desk or table, your child should be sitting upright in their chair with both feet flat on the floor. Also, make sure the paper they are writing on is stable by having your child hold the paper with one hand while they write with the other.
When your child begins writing, you may want to start with paper that has large spaces between the lines, as many children have larger handwriting to begin with. The lines on the paper are very helpful in establishing the start and end of letters, as well as spacing between those letters and words. Graph paper may also be helpful when your child is learning how to practice spacing. Beginning with a model of the alphabet is an easy way to establish precise letters. Some companies sell booklets with pages full of modeled letters and words, such as Handwriting Without Tears. Tracing these letters will set a good example of what your child’s letters should look like. Auditory explanations of how to write a letter can also be helpful sometimes, such as “top to bottom, left to right” for a ‘t’. You may also want to encourage your child to say the letters or words aloud as they write them, or use the cues that you have taught as guidance. Practicing cursive handwriting may also be helpful when it comes to improving legibility.
There are also many tools that are available for improving handwriting:
- Workbooks – there are many handwriting workbooks available for specific grade levels and types of writing, such as print or cursive. Handwriting without tears is a great company to go to if you are interested in such workbooks. Click on the link below to be taken to their workbook page.
2.) Slant boards – these will establish a position that is efficient for wrist extension that facilitates a tripod grasp, as well as shoulder stability. Click on the link below to view the Therapy Shoppe’s slant boards.
3.) Pencil grips and claws – grips encourage stable pencil grasps and facilitate a tripod grasp. Click the link below to view the Therapy Shoppe’s grips and the C.L.A.W grips.
4.) Therapy Putty – putty helps to facilitate fine motor skills and muscle memory. Click the link below to view the Therapy Shoppe’s therapy putty options.
Keep in mind that your child should be reaching some general writing and drawing milestones before they begin handwriting. MamaOT has a great list of these, shown below.
•Imitating vertical lines, horizontal lines, circular scribbles
•Copying vertical line, horizontal line, circle
•Drawing circle without a model
•Copying cross, square, right and left diagonal lines, X shape, some letters and numbers
•May be able to write own name
•Drawing a recognizable face with eyes, nose, mouth
•Drawing a basic stick figure with 2-4 body parts
•Coloring inside a circle and filling it at least halfway
•Printing own name
•Copying most capital and lowercase letters
•Drawing a person with at least 6 body parts
Check out MamaOT’s blog for plenty more information regarding these milestones! We have provided the link below:
As always, thanks for reading, and check back next week for an updated post!