- Handwriting readiness varies from 3-6 years old. Do not force a child to write if he/she is not ready.
Handwriting is a complex skill that involves vision, eye-hand coordination, muscle memory, posture, body control, as well as pencil grasp and letter formation. It is an important skill to have for communication and written expression. This is why having a solid handwriting foundation is so important. In this article, we take a look at how caregivers can help their children to write better.
Children need to develop some fundamental skills before they are able to write. They must be able to hold and move a pencil fluently to produce legible writing. Generally, a child is ready when he:
- Understands the use of writing material
- Has stability in his shoulder, forearm and wrist
- Has strength and endurance in his hands
- Has ability to reach, grasp and release
- Establishes hand dominance
- Is able to draw all the pre-writing strokes
Handwriting readiness varies from 3-6 years old. Do not force a child to write if he/she is not ready.
Children should be able to form these pre-writing strokes before they are asked to write.
These pre-writing strokes are important because the letters of alphabets are made up of curves and lines that are straight or diagonal. Do not expect a child to write letters if he/she is unable to recognise them.
Different levels of writing instructions
- Imitation (Demonstration)
The caregiver or teacher will demonstrate how to write the alphabets, and the child watches.
Child tries to write the alphabets without demonstration, and the caregiver or teacher watches.
- Independent Work
The child writes the alphabets independently.
Strategies to support handwriting
- Gross motor strengthening
- Pushing and pulling smaller trolleys or prams;
- Popping of bubbles in the air
- Cleaning the whiteboard with a duster
- Climbing ladders or monkey bars at the playground
- Playing bat games and ball games that involve throwing, catching and bowling
- Exercising with the hula hoop
- Fine motor strengthening
- Squeezing items: rubber balls, soft balls, sponge and towels
- Baking: mixing, sifting, kneading and rolling
- Art and craft activities: peeling, tearing
- Squirting water from bottle sprays and water pistols
- Scrunching newspaper
- Forming alphabets
- Use of play-doh, shaving cream and sand play to learn to make pre-writing strokes or letters.
- Baking alphabet cookies.
- Writing on wall during bath time.
Strengthening the foundations of handwriting through daily routines
One way to help a child strengthen his or her handwriting foundation is through daily activities such as during the morning and bedtime routines.
This article is adapted from resource contributed by SPD occupational therapist Tanya Tan.