Is writing an activity your child dreads? Is it hard to make out what they’ve written because their handwriting is so sloppy? While in some cases this could just be because your child is rushing through and not making the effort to write neatly, there is often more to it than that. Their mind may be racing or having trouble organizing their thoughts to get it out on paper. They may not be holding the pencil properly or have good fine motor skills. There are many issues that can come into play when it comes to handwriting.
Have your child slow down when writing. This can be an effective first step to see if other issues may be to blame. Ask your child to take their time when writing and even talk out loud as they go, saying each word as they write it. This can help them to focus more on what they’re doing and pay attention to each word instead of the whole sentence at once.
Talk through how to make letters when practicing. If you notice that there are a few letters that seem to be more illegible than others or that they’re not forming correctly, focus on practicing each stroke. Talk through the steps like starting at the top and drawing a line straight down, or making a circle. There are some great programs and templates for how to form letters properly that make it fun for your child to practice.
Use multi-sensory activities to practice. Instead of always using pencil on paper, let your child practice their letter-making or word-forming skills using different mediums. Try using shaving cream, a paintbrush and water, chalk, or sand. It provides a fun way to practice while integrating multiple senses.
Use proper grip and posture. Make sure your child is holding their pencil correctly before they start writing. If they’re having trouble remembering how to hold it, you can try using pencil grips as a reminder. This will put their fingers in the right positions. Also, make sure they’re sitting up and writing on a flat surface that is the correct height.
Work on strengthening hand muscles. If your child tires easily from writing, work on strengthening their muscles and improving muscle memory. Get a stress ball that they can squeeze, or some firm putty to play with. Practice picking up small objects with just their thumb, index, and middle finger or use tweezers or tongs to practice. Don’t forget to do some core strengthening activities too. Posture can play an important role in handwriting.
Make it fun. Play a variety of games or do different activities that involve writing or drawing to help your child practice while having a good time. Ask them to help write the grocery list or get some cute cards they can write on and send to family or friends. Write a story together and then draw pictures to go along with it.
If you’re concerned about your child’s handwriting or wondering if there may be underlying problems that are a contributing factor, getting them evaluated for occupational therapy can help. The occupational therapists at PediaPlex work with children to improve letter formation, posture and grip, fine motor skills, muscle memory, and much more to improve their handwriting abilities. Having good handwriting can benefit them in many aspects of their education and life.
Don’t let handwriting be a constant battle. Occupational therapy through PediaPlex can help ease frustration.