How much do you think about handwriting? Unless you share a similar profession as myself, you likely answered, “very little, if at all.” Where did we learn how to write? Or how to hold a pencil? These skills didn’t just develop naturally; we had to be taught at some point. Unfortunately, the increasing pressure on teachers to stick to curriculum and time lines, handwriting has been placed on the back burner. One resource that is available for handwriting skills is occupational therapy. Occupational therapists (OTs) address the foundation skills necessary for successful writing. These skills include fine-motor control, posture, visual perception, and visual-motor (eye-hand) coordination. The following are some quick tips for improving handwriting legibility:
- Like any sport, it is all in the set up.
- The non-writing hand needs to hold the paper.
- Left-handers may angle their paper because, believe it or not, it is good to actually see what you are writing.
- Feet should be flat on the floor.
- Knees and hips should be at a 90 degree angle.
- Hold on… not too tight.
- Hold pencil firmly, but be sure not to choke it.
- Go and stop at the same time?
- Our “go” fingers are our thumb and first two digits. They do all the movement.
- Our stop fingers are the ring and pinky finger. They stay flexed into the palm.
- Think big!
- Start writing on big lines. Make homemade paper with large writing lines. You may even want to try not using any lines at first and letting your child make the motions of writing the letters.
- Write on an easel or paper taped to the wall or refrigerator. This helps to strengthen the arm muscles needed to write for longer periods. It will also help your child learn the direction strokes go to make letters rather than just memorizing them.
These are just a few things to implement at home, but being creative with your instruction is also important. Make writing interesting, otherwise frustration may set in. Let your child write the shopping list, write on the windows with special markers found at office supply stores, use play-dough, glitter glue, or other mediums to write with. Anything will seem better than a worksheet. Try these simple ideas and remember that praise for a job well done will lead to motivation for successful handwriting.
Kristopher Osher M. OT OTR/L received a Bachelor’s degree of science in occupational therapy and Master’s of occupational therapy from Eastern Michigan University in December 2008. He worked for Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services for two and a half years in the Fulton County School District.
For more information on Occupation Therapy and Speech Therapy services for children in the Atlanta area call us at 770-209-9826 or visit https://www.pediaspeech.com/.