When it comes to writing, there are multiple factors that affect how fast children write, how legible it is, and how they form and space their letters. Difficulties with these skills may result in poor legibility as well as decreased motivation and interest to complete writing activities. These factors include:
Children who present with unstable posture use an increased amount of energy to maintain their balance and stability at the table. This postural control stems from your core and if the core is weak, you will see weakness with shoulder, arm, and hand control. These kids with weakness may slouch at the table, use too much or too little pressure on the pencil, wiggle in their seat, or rest their head and arm on the table (Cooper).
As children reach their developmental milestones, their ability to hold pencils matures as well. Delayed grasping may affect a child’s efficiency with writing and endurance. Typical grasping patterns are categorized into 3 categories: primitive, transitional, and mature grasps (Beck).
- Palmar supinate grasp (whole hand grasp)—1-1.5 years old
- Digital pronate grasp—2-3 years old
- Four finger grasp—3.5-4 years old
- Static tripod grasp—3.5-4 years old
- Dynamic tripod grasp—4-7 years old
- Dynamic quadrupod grasp—4-7 years old
- Visual Perceptual Skills
Visual perception focuses on your ability to interpret visual images such as letters and numbers. There are different subcategories that make up visual perception such as visual closure, visual discrimination, spatial awareness, form consistency, visual memory, and figure-ground. Difficulties with visual perception may present as incorrect letter/number formation (EX: reversal of ‘b’ and ‘d’), difficulty tracing lines or coloring within boundaries, difficulty spacing between letters or words, and difficulty recalling the alphabet and what they look like (Handwriting Performance).
- Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills use the small muscles in your body to perform precise movements within the hands, wrists, and fingers and affects how children grasp and form letters. Their ability to manipulate objects in their hands affects how legible their writing is (Seo, S.). Children who are not able to produce pre-writing strokes such as horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, square, circle, and triangle may struggle with forming letters based on these basic shapes (EX: o + l = a). They also may face difficulties with typing, which the prerequisite for typing is similar to handwriting (“Handwriting Performance”).
If you notice your child experiencing these problems, contact Chatterbox Pediatric Therapy to follow up with an Occupational Therapy evaluation to assess your child’s handwriting skills and improve their abilities and confidence.
Beck, C. (2020, September 28). Pencil Grasp Development. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.theottoolbox.com/pencil-grasp-development/
Cooper, A. (2016, November 28). The Importance of Posture and Positioning for Handwriting. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://childrensupportsolutions.com/the-importance-of-posture-and-positioning-for-handwriting/
Handwriting Performance. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/writing/handwriting-performance/
Seo, S. (2018). The effect of fine motor skills on handwriting legibility in preschool age children. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 30(2), 324-327. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.324