Handwriting is a complex process of managing written language by coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation, and body posture. Teachers often depend on written work to measure how well a child is learning. The development of a child's visual perception and motor skills influences performance in handwriting, classroom participation, and overall learning.
Occupational therapists can evaluate the underlying components that support a student's handwriting, such as seated positioning, hand strength, visual perception, fine motor control and eye-hand coordination. Parents can encourage activities at home to support good handwriting skills as follows:
- Encourage children to participate in sports and games that could improve visual, motor, and coordination skills, such as playing playing catch. It is recommended to start with a balloon first, then gradually move to more difficult balls (e.g. beachball, then koosh-ball, then basketball, then football, then tennis ball, etc.).
- Require children and teens to use silverware when eating to develop a mature fingertip hand grip.
- Provide an activity that exercises the hands, such as Play-Doh, cutting pie dough or pizza and using cookie cutters.
- Encourage children to copy or draw shapes including lines, circles, squares, triangles, diamonds, arrows, overlapping circles (e.g. Olympics logo).
- Encourage children to copy household objects including food, containers, toys, picture/portraits, cartoon characters, and items of personal interest.
- Encourage writing handwritten letters to grandparents and friends (tip: use tracing and/or copying as needed).