Working in pediatric occupational therapy, we get a lot of questions regarding handwriting. Teachers and parents tell us it is taking their children longer to finish homework because of frustration or fatigue. Luckily, handwriting can be addressed in a multitude of ways besides just repetitive paper-pencil tasks. Using a multi-sensory approach can be very effective. Some of the multi-sensory activities we might include could be:
● Use of different tactile and sensory objects such as sand, play-doh, shaving cream, beads, and chalk.
● Create patterns of the letters or numbers with your fingers with each medium.
● Use rolling, pinching, and squeezing movements to increase finger/hand strength to support holding the pencil.
● Complete a dot to dot page while it’s taped to the table to increase hand-eye coordination.
When addressing handwriting in therapy we look at several aspects: grasp, visual attention to boundaries, size, spacing, punctuation, pressure, posture, and tolerance. Any of these areas can cause handwriting challenges. One area that isn’t always easily recognized is the inability to cross midline. This can affect one’s ability to write as well as read. Not all areas of attention need to be paper-pencil tasks or sitting at the table. Moving the body is a great way to address handwriting skills. Ways you can address crossing midline and handwriting skills could be playing pattycake, dribbling a ball while switching hands, marching in place while crossing to touch the opposite knee, swimming, or bear crawling activities on the floor.
Another area that isn’t noticed right away is postural control. Control over one’s own body will affect activity tolerance while engaging in a fine motor task such as handwriting. Keeping an upright posture and feet firmly on the floor helps support the whole body, placing a high importance on trunk strength. Fun activities that address core strengthening and can be done while standing are darts, basketball, coloring on an easel, playing with shaving cream on a mirror, to name a few.
At Sandbox Therapy Group, we know you can’t go wrong when increasing play and movement to address handwriting skills, one of the many areas of concern we address in therapy. Want to know more? Come play in the Sandbox!