Handwriting is a complex process of managing written language by coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation, and body posture. A child’s inability to master good handwriting skills could indicate a more serious problem such as developmental or learning disabilities that could hinder a child’s learning.
Occupational therapists evaluate the underlying components that support a student’s handwriting, such as muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and motor control as well as vision perception skills and visual motor integration.
How an occupational therapist can help
- Demonstrate correct posture to support the proper use of the arms, hands, head, and eyes.
- Measures the level of physical strength and endurance.
- Analyzes fine motor control, such as the ability to hold a writing utensil.
- Determines visual and perceptual ability that influences a child’s ability to form letters and shapes using a writing utensil.
- Helps develop and evaluates handwriting curriculums and collaborates with teachers on effective strategies.
- Suggests home activities that promote the development of skills needed for good handwriting.
At TDCC, Handwriting Support is provided individually and in group sessions. The program focuses on improving bilateral integration, hand strength, wrist stability and pencil control. Systematic multi-sensory instruction is provided on correct letter & number formation, sizing, spacing between words and letters as well as cursive writing. Parental participation is strongly encouraged and recommendations for home support are provided.
For Handwriting Group sessions, students are grouped according to age and ability, and placement is determined based on the child’s individual requirements. Individual goals are set for each child at the start of the program to address specific needs and to ensure that the objectives set are met and achieved. For younger children, specific exercises and techniques are implemented to facilitate pre-writing and fine motor skills. For older students, the program focuses on quality of penmanship while also reinforcing quality of production including initiation and organization of the written word. This helps to reduce the students’ writing reluctance and anxiety which impairs their confidence and limits their full learning and development potential. It is an intensive skills development course aimed at building a student’s writing skills while improving handwriting legibility and speed. Each session also includes @ 20 minutes of specific strengthening and co-ordination exercises to improve postural stability, motor planning and bilateral integration.