June 11, 2015
How Occupational Therapy Can Help Children with Handwriting
One of the first assignments most kindergartners are tasked with is copying words and letters.
Handwriting requires pre-foundational skills that are essential for the development of handwriting. A child who develops proximal stability (strength of trunk, shoulder, upper arms, and forearms) will have better control of a writing utensil and will be able to develop better formation of letters. When a child progresses through gross motor developmental milestones, they develop the required proximal stability required for fine motor control.
Early childhood development programs help children develop the foundational skills necessary for handwriting, but even children who did participate in such programs may struggle.
If your child is struggling with handwriting skills, a formal evaluation by an occupational therapist is recommended to assess their visual motor integration, visual perception skills, fine motor coordination, strength, and sensory processing. Epic has occupational therapists that are certified in formal handwriting programs and have provided children with opportunities to work on writing skills during the summer. Our therapists will address all eight components of handwriting skills, including:
- Visual memory (child’s ability to write a letter without copying)
- Start (where the child begins the letter)
- Sequence (the formation of strokes after start)
- Orientation (letters are facing the right way)
- Placement (the child’s ability to have the letters sit on the line)
- Sizing (how big or small the child writes)
- Spacing (the amount of space between letters and words)
- Control (legibility and proportion of letters)
If your child is struggling with handwriting, he or she may benefit from skilled intervention during the summer months via sessions with an occupational therapist. You can also take action to help your child develop their handwriting skills.
When your child is beginning to write, ensure he or she is seated correctly with feet flat on the floor and with the table height just above elbow level. The child must hold the writing utensil correctly with a tripod grasp. Correct grasp may not come naturally and you will need to help your child learn how to facilitate it. There are many activities that can develop a tripod grasp such as playing with water guns, pinching clothes pins or squeezing droppers.
Children also need to have a good foundation of letter formation to be successful writers. Teaching them formation based on similarity of strokes will allow them to be successful. Multi-sensory handwriting programs can help a child develop a stable foundation.
Some children demonstrate difficulty holding the writing utensil as well as forming letters. Formal handwriting is not addressed in some curriculums and children are expected to write independently.
For information regarding our pediatric occupational therapy services, visit our website.