Handwriting is an essential life skill that children learn from a young age. Handwriting is a form of communication used in many different settings, such as at home or school. Children need to learn handwriting for many different reasons, including completing schoolwork and expressing themselves. It is also necessary for many jobs later in life. Unfortunately, some children have more difficulty developing handwriting skills than others, but occupational therapists (OTs) are here to help.
Handwriting is a complex activity that requires coordination between various regions of the body, including the arms, hands, fingers and torso. Occupational therapists can help a child by demonstrating proper posture and grasping patterns, such as the 90-90-90 position. This position means that your hips, knees and ankles are all bent at a 90-degree angle. The child's feet should also be flat on the floor and not dangling in the air.
Perhaps handwriting difficulty is related to fine motor control, such as holding a pen or pencil. In this case, the OT can demonstrate age-appropriate grasp patterns. The OT may also recommend a child use pencil grips to help a child hold a pencil. Other things in the environment, such as a desk or chair, also contribute to a child's handwriting ability. Modified paper that helps a child "stay between the lines" can also support handwriting skill development.
Occupational therapists work with children in public settings, such as school, and private settings, such as home or office environments. Some common assessments OTs may use include the Beery Visual-Motor Integration, McMaster Handwriting Assessment or the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment. To support handwriting ability and skill development, occupational therapists may use interventions such as Handwriting Without Tears. This interactive program utilizes a hands-on approach to improving a child's handwriting skills, pencil grip, body awareness and posture. Handwriting Without Tears uses both online and printed resources and is easy to use for children and parents.