Why handwriting is a struggle for today's children?
Handwriting is a real struggle for many children. Handwriting requires hand muscles that are being developed through making art projects, doing chores, climbing on a playground, playing with blocks, play dough etc. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in these essential developmental activities, our children spend more and more time playing with gadgets. Hand muscles necessary for handwriting are not developing while swiping the screens.
Moreover, handwriting requires self-regulation in order to maintain attention through the task. As our children’s brains get more and more accustomed to functioning under high levels of stimulation due to the high sensory input from the gadgets, activities such as handwriting are not stimulating enough to their brains. As a result, more and more children struggle with handwriting at school.
Handwriting is not an isolated skill. It facilitates reading and math skills. Handwriting is associated with later academic success. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that taking notes by hand is more effective for learning than laptop note taking. Therefore, the solution is not getting rid of handwriting, but bringing back to our children their childhood, so that they can develop their hand muscles!
Here is what you can do to help your child develop muscles necessary for handwriting:
- Play activities: stretching elastic bands and velcro, interconnecting paper clips, getting coins out of play dough and inserting into a piggy bank, attaching clothespins to boxes/clothes, picking pompoms with clothespins, popping bubble wraps, cutting play dough and cardboard with scissors, using droplets, making holes with a hole puncher
- Art activities: making origami, paper airplanes, mosaic, scrapbooking, collages; making projects with plasticine and clay;
- Household chores: pushing shopping carts, carrying groceries, making bed, wiping tables/windows, wringing out sponges, putting clothes from a laundry machine into a dryer, opening plastic containers, helping with cooking (cutting, stirring, scooping), watering plants with squeeze bottles, helping with car washing, gardening
- Outdoor activities: wheelbarrow and animal walks, climbing on climbing walls/trees, monkey bars, playing tennis, basketball, drawing with large chalks, finding hidden rocks/small objects in sand, playing with sand shovels and sand toys
- Paper and pencil activities: provide a daily age appropriate practice of tracing, drawing, coloring, painting, copying, printing. Involve children in making shopping lists, greeting cards, writing notes, keeping journals, drawing by color/number activities. Make it engaging because we want kids to LOVE printing!
Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist
For additional information: