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Published on April 30, 2018

Signs Your Child May Need Handwriting Support

Handwriting is a complex process, involving coordination of the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grasp, letter formation and body posture. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, a child’s handwriting development can tip off potential developmental problems that can affect their learning, because teachers often rely on written work to measure how well a child is learning.

At Wayne UNC Health Care we celebrate our occupational therapists who are skilled in assessing the needs of each child and creating programs to help patients make meaningful gains in their handwriting development.

Part of our interdisciplinary rehabilitation services team with physical and speech therapy, our occupational therapists evaluate the underlying components supporting a student’s handwriting – such as muscle strength, endurance, coordination, visual and fine motor skills, sensory processing, and visual perceptual skills.

“Often school requirements for handwriting exceed the developmental norms for children,” said Karen Mullen, Occupational Therapist. “So it can be challenging to gauge where your son or daughter stands.”

Mullen said parents should look for a progression in the development of their children’s handwriting and pre writing skills. The appropriateness of letter- and number-sizing and –spacing should improve over time.

Readiness for handwriting and learning is often based on a child’s ability to copy geometric forms which should first be mastered. Prewriting shapes typically develop in the following order:

  • Age 3 -copying vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circle
  • Age 4- copying a cross
  • Age 5 -copies square and diagonal lines
  • Age 5.5-6 -copies triangle

For children who need more support, there are a number of strategies and interventions that may help your child with hand writing and one of our Wayne UNC Health Care Occupational Therapists can work with them one-on-one. The team also offers intensive print and cursive handwriting camps in July.

Scribblez Print Handwriting Camp runs 9-11:30 a.m. July 9-12, and the cursive camp will be July 16-19 at Wayne UNC Health Care. The camp, for children ages 4-8, is $60 per session.

“We do pre-writing warm ups, fine-motor crafts and activities using Learning without Tears protocol,” said Mullen. “The camp is for anyone struggling with handwriting or for those children who just want to get a fresh start.”

Throughout the camp, an occupational therapist will deliver one-on-one instruction, helping children with letter formation and assessing additional support they may need.

For more information on occupational therapy, contact Wayne UNC Health Care Rehabilitation Services at 919-731-6005.

To sign up for Scribblez Handwriting Camp, email scribblez@waynehealth.org.

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