Guide to Improving Handwriting
Posted on July 18, 2019 by Ann
Story of Suria
Suria is a high-functioning 9-year-old boy from a special school. He is easily motivated to participate in most of the classroom activities except for writing. Though he is able to trace straight lines, join dots and recognise shapes, sizes and letters, he does not like pre-writing lessons. When requested to perform writing tasks, Suria begins exhibiting inappropriate behaviours like throwing objects and pushing people. As such, Suria was referred to an Occupational Therapist to help develop his writing skills.
Factors influencing handwriting
Developing handwriting skills is extremely important especially for children attending school. Handwriting is a complex task which involves physical, sensory and cognitive systems. Though technological advances minimises the role of writing in many areas, it is good for a child to at least learn to write his or her name, address and phone number.
The following factors affect a child’s handwriting skills:
- Bilateral Integration (BI),
- shoulder/elbow/wrist stability, and
- hand dominance.
Please refer to our article on fine motor skills for more information on these factors.
Apart from these, environmental factors such as sitting position, paper positioning, lighting and writing tools also affect handwriting.
How can you help to improve your child’s handwriting skill?
A parent’s role is crucial in improving a child’s handwriting skills. The following activities can be done at home with the available materials/resources.
Activities to improve handwriting:
• When your child has difficulty drawing oblique lines as in the letters ‘A’ or ‘X’, provide activities encouraging active midline crossing. For example, ask your child to transfer a marble in a container from left to right. This encourages crossing the visual and physical midline.
• Use multi-sensory methods to teach handwriting such as writing with paint or writing on different textured papers such as sand paper. Verbal cues for the writing strokes may benefit a child with writing difficulties.
• For children with poor grip strength, use a small and thick writing tool. This improves tripod grasp.
• Use different types of materials to form letters like clay, foam and sand. It may also help your child to register forms and shapes of letters. Ask your child to identify the letters with his or her eyes closed.
• For children with poor motor planning, conduct activities like navigating through obstacles or copying block designs in various patterns.
Guidelines for home-based activities:
• Provide clear and concise commands.
• Always start with simple activities before moving on to complex ones.
• Set simple and easy targets.
• Break the activity into simple steps.
• Provide appropriate breaks in between activities.
• Allow your child to use the left hand if he or she prefers it.
• Reward your child with his favourite things after the activity.
For more assistance, contact the Occupational Therapist at your child’s school/centre.
Story of Suria (continued)
Suria has been receiving occupational therapy for the past two years. He is now able to copy letters, numbers and simple shapes. He also participates actively in pre-writing activities.
MINDS is an All In Preferred Partner.
Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) is one of the largest Voluntary Welfare Organisations in Singapore, serving some 2,400 clients from past the age of six to their ripe old age. MINDS’ services include four special schools, three employment development centres, three day training and development centres, and one multi-service residential home.
This guide was originally published by MINDS’ Allied Health Professionals unit and republished with minor editorial amendments by All In.