Skills Kids Need for Handwriting | The OT Toolbox

Skills Kids Need for Handwriting


If you are following The OT Toolbox, then you know I love handwriting. While it's true that OTs are not "handwriting teachers", it's the underlying skills that go into handwriting that have a special place in my heart. 

As therapists, we are specialists in development, motor skills, visual processing, self-awareness, spatial concepts, kinesiology, sensory processing, regulation, and all of the other areas that really make a big difference in a child's functional ability to write. There are many skills that kids need for handwriting! 


Kids need different skills for handwriting.



Skills Kids Need for Handwriting


Handwriting is SO much more than crossing t's and dotting i's.

Here are some important facts about the skills kids need for handwriting:


1. Handwriting development starts at birth. Yep, it's true! When babies are swaddled, reach for mama's face, and crawl, they are developing the postural stability and visual motor skills needed waaaaay down the road when they write their ABCs.

2. Visual processing skills are key. The perceptual skills of knowing the difference between a b, d, p, and q are essential for written work. Addressing the basics in form copying at a young age (and in a variety of sensory-motor manners) can be a huge asset for kids as they head into the school-age years.

3. Letter formation starts before learning to make a letter! This is important: when kids learn improper formation of letters like starting letters at the bottom or "building" the parts of a letter, it can be hard to break those habits. When kids teach themselves because they just pick up a crayon and copy their name, they might not form letters properly, using developmental strokes of top to bottom. Letter formation habits are HARD to break. And proper formation is important for legibility, speed, spatial use, letter recall, organization, and functional written work.

4. Bilateral coordination is essential. When we write, we need to easily coordinate both sides of your body for effective posture, holding the paper, moving the pencil, erasing, using margins, and filling in given spaces on worksheets. Forming letters requires pencil strokes that involve moving to the midline. Think about it this way: A new writer forms letters very large in size. As they develop coordination and motor skills, letter size decreases. But those letter strokes continue to remain the same. A pencil still needs to move to the midline when crossing an uppercase T or adding the middle line to an uppercase A, right?
>5. Visual memory is a must! Especially as kids age, they are required to write faster and faster. But functional writing at all ages requires a visual picture in the mind to ensure formation. Starting with beginning strokes using developmental concepts ensures success down the road with kids as they develop handwriting skills. 

6. Fine Motor Skills are a powerhouse when it comes to handwriting! From pencil control to an efficient grasp, to endurance in writing...fine motor skills are required. Working on fine motor skills can be a huge help for many kids who struggle with handwriting. 

These are just a few of the skills needed for handwriting. There are so many:
Eye-hand coordination
Sensory processing and filtering out unecessary information
Visual perceptual skills
Attention
Executive functioning skills
Organization
Posture

What would you add to this list?

Because of these facts, I wanted to share an awesome pre-handwriting bundle that my COTA/L friend, Heather has available. It's a huge resource for any therapist who works with kids on the underlying skills that go into handwriting. It's a tool for parents who want their kids to shift from the scribble stage to writing their name or those who don't know where to start with teaching handwriting. And it's a handwriting tactic for teachers who need to break bad letter formation habits by going back to the basics.Handwriting is more than knowing the ABCs and handing a child a pencil! 


So, knowing these three facts, we can understand that starting with the very basics of copying lines, shapes, and forms in a developmental order is a huge part of handwriting success. And giving kids fun and creative opportunities to practice these forms, letters, lines, and strokes can be so beneficial for handwriting.
Because of these facts, I wanted to share an awesome pre-handwriting bundle that my COTA/L friend, Heather has available. It's a huge resource for any therapist who works with kids on the underlying skills that go into handwriting. It's a tool for parents who want their kids to shift from the scribble stage to writing their name or those who don't know where to start with teaching handwriting. And it's a handwriting tactic for teachers who need to break bad letter formation habits by going back to the basics.


I wanted to tell you about the Pre-Writing Skills Activity Bundle now because Heather has it discounted at half off but only through Monday. Here's what's in the bundle:
1.) Basic Shapes for Beginners – A Hands-On Approach to Pre-Writing Strokes for Preschoolers- This book is filled with a basic plan of 36 lessons to get you started in introducing pre-writing lines to your toddler through preschool age children.
2.) On The Farm Pre-Writing Line Packet- 30-page Digital packet focusing on pre-writing lines and fine motor skills such as cutting, following mazes, do-a-dot marker pages, lacing cards and more!
3.) Typical Hand Grasp Development Cards- 12 Digital postcards with a reference for age and developmental appropriate hand grasps.
4.) Pre-Writing, Number, and Letter Formation Direction Cards- Printable cards to help teach kids letter and number formation using consistent verbal directions ensuring developmental writing strokes so you don't need to go back and fix bad habits later.
5.) You’ll also get three extra digital download FREE BONUSES – Glitter Glue Pre-Writing Line Activity Strips for Kids, Cursive Pre-Writing Line Activity Packet, and a Pre-Writing Skills Checklist!
Because this bundle is so powerful in helping kids start off with the skills they need, and because I'm a sucker for providing additional free resources for your therapy toolbox, I wanted to add my A-Z Sky-Ground Letter Playmats. This is a printable packet of play mats that kids can use to form letters with tons of sensory mediums so they get the motor plan of letters and the kinesiology component down pat. Cover these playmats with dollar store contact paper and use them to work on letter formation with play dough, slime, wet tissue paper, dry beans...anything! What makes these letter play mats different from others is the added visual cue of sky and ground lines so kids can see the size and spatial components that makes up legible letter formation.
If you get the Pre-Writing Skills Activity Bundle by purchasing through this link, just let me know. I will send the A-Z Sky-Ground Letter Playmats to you as a free download.
I hope these facts and tools help address so many of the handwriting challenges you've told me about!