How handwriting works

Handwriting is important anytime that you are using a pen/pencil to write words or numbers.

By Occupational Therapy For Children

Writing is a lot more complicated than you think!

Below are all the underpinning skills that a child requires to become an efficient writer.

Gross Motor Skills: performing tasks using the larger muscles in the body

  • Postural stability – being able to sit still on the chair
  • Balance – maintaining a good, still posture
  • Bilateral intergration – using both sides of the body
  • Body and spatial awareness – knowing where your body is in space
  • Crossing the midline of body with your arm without moving the whole body

Fine Motor Skills: – Precise motor activities with hand and fingers

  • Laterality – knowing what hand to use
  • In-hand manipulations – being able to manipulate a small object in your hand
  • Hand strength
  • Correct pencil grip

Visual perceptual skills: is the ability to look at, process and make sense of visual information and use it appropriately

  • Visual discrimination – ability to see likenesses and differences, matching, recognition, categorisation
  • Spatial relationships – understanding the space around himself/herself
  • Visual motor integration – is the co-ordination and integration of the eyes with the muscle of the body
  • Figure ground – recognition of figures embedded within a background
  • Eye-hand co-ordination – to be able to guide the hand visually to complete a task
  • Sequencing – being able to do a series of movements in a set order
  • Visual closure – visualising the end product
  • Visual memory – remember what the eyes see. Both long term and short term memory
  • Visual attention/concentration – maintaining attention and concentration
  • Eye tracking – being able maintain focus and follow across the page with your eyes

Auditory perceptual skills: is the ability to listen, process and make sense of information that you have heard and use it appropriately

  • Auditory Discrimination : the ability to hear the difference between words and sentences that sound very similar
  • Auditory Memory: the ability to recall information that is presented via the auditory channel only
  • Auditory Figure-Ground: paying attention to a signal (teacher’s voice) while ‘blocking out’ the background noise
  • Auditory Attention: maintaining focus on a listening task

When a number of these skills are not established or well developed it will make the handwriting process difficult.

However the good news is that handwriting/writing skills can be improved.