We live in a technology driven world dependent on email, text messaging, and instant messages. But our children depend on hand written work to be successful in school. Imagine the average first graders day in school. How many subjects does he use his handwriting skills? The answer is, all of them. He uses handwriting to write his spelling lists, answer math problems, write social studies facts, and record science data. When this child reaches high school the handwritten portion of his SAT test is worth 800 points! Despite our technology driven world, our children are still expected to learn to write.
The first step to having good handwriting is learning proper grip. If we placed a musical instrument in a child’s hand, the first thing we would teach her is how to hold the instrument properly. She needs to hold the instrument correctly in order to produce a pleasant sound from the instrument. This is true with crayons and pencils. We need to teach a child how to properly hold a writing instrument prior to asking them to produce any written strokes.
Children as young as 4 years old are ready to begin writing readiness activities. These include holding a crayon, imitating simple strokes and shapes and coloring skills. These skills will help them get ready for formal instruction to learn to form letters and numbers.
Handwriting problems can be affected by lack of instruction, poor fine motor skills, and/or poor visual motor skills. It is important to provide intervention early to prevent bad habits from forming. In most cases handwriting skills can be improved in a fairly short amount of time.
Good handwriting skills are vital to a child performance in school.
Written by Roxanne Thompson, OTR/L