4 Ways to Better Handwriting before Pencil Hits Paper

Your child’s handwriting skills will affect his performance in school, beginning as early as preschool.    How your child holds his pencil, sits in his chair, and attends to the task of handwriting can affect your child’s ability to feel successful in completing a handwriting task. 

4 ways you can promote your child’s handwriting skills before his pencil hits the paper: 

  1. Address his posture: Your child’s posture at the table is directly associated with his fine motor control.  He Handwriting skillsdoes not just use his hand muscles to write—his core muscles are important too.  Make sure that the height of his chair allows for his feet to be placed flat on the floor.  Ideally, you want your child to be sitting so that there is a 90° angle at his knees and his hips.  This will put his body in a position that supports good handwriting.  Sitting on a wedge cushion (move ‘n sit cushion, air-filled cushion) that provides vestibular activation can sometimes help to improve his posture. 
  2. Address his grasp:  Your child’s pencil grasp can hinder or support his ability to write neatly.  Encourage your child to hold his pencil between the tips of his thumb and pointer finger.  The pencil should rest on the side of the tip of his middle finger.  Keeping the space between his thumb and pointer finger (the web space) open will ensure that he is utilizing his muscles in the most efficient manner and will reduce fine motor fatigue.  Sometimes, utilizing an adaptive grip on his pencil can help him to maintain the grasp with decreased difficulty. 
  3. Address his attention:  Your child’s attention can support or detract from his ability to accurately complete a handwriting task.  To support his attention, minimize the distractions in the room.  Your Read more

Handwriting Quickies: 5 easy ways to work on your child’s grasp and letter formation for handwriting

Handwriting involves many different components, such as using an age-appropriate grasp, stabilizing the paper, and identifying and forming uppercase and lowercase letters.  Luckily, there are lots of simple strategies to boost your child’s confidence and performance.

Here are a few brief suggestions to try at home:

Child practicing handwriting skills

  • Hold a marble:  Have your child hold onto a marble with his ring finger and pinky finger against his palm.  This will help him to keep his “extra” fingers out of the way, and better promote a tripod posture on the writing utensil (pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger).
  • Varied grasp Place the writing utensil between your child’s pointer finger and long finger to promote a variation of the tripod posture.  This is a good option if your child is older and has an incorrect grasp which cannot be corrected, or to provide a “break” for your child if he fatigues easily during handwriting activities.
  • Use a golf-sized pencil A small pencil works well for small hands (approximately 6 years and younger).  This will offer your child more control over the writing utensil, and may require less strength and endurance as it is lighter.
  • Practice letter recognition:  Have your child trace letters onto your back, or trace letters onto your child’s back.  This will help him practice recognizing the shape and formation of the letters, and also feel the letters, providing tactile input.  Similarly, you and your child can take turns drawing letters in the air (make movements extremely large and exaggerated); again, this will help your child see the lines and curves of the letters and feel them as well.  (Note:  during the summertime, sparklers are a fun way to practice forming letters/words in the air for others to guess!  Just make sure that children are monitored by adults for safety purposes)
  • I spy with my little eye Change up the game “I spy” by incorporating spelling.  For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the letter S.”  This will help your child sound out which letter the object starts with.  To make the activity harder, ask your child to spell out the entire word at the end of each round.

Handwriting and learning to recognize the alphabet can feel like daunting tasks to parents, as there are many components to think about in order to best teach your child.  However, as stated above, there are many “tricks” to provide your child with greater success and, therefore, increased confidence.  Try one of these strategies today, and watch your child blossom!

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