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Handwriting and co-ordinations. How to help?

(12 Posts)
PureBloodMuggle Fri 24-Jun-11 11:42:20

I was just talking to DS1's teacher and resource teacher this morning.

Whilst he done brilliantly in improving his reading this year, (I'm really proud of him here as he's tried so hard and it's paid off for him.) His handwriting is still bad, quite illegible at times.

The resource teacher told me that he'd be coming to see her next year for just his handwriting, and that she feels that he may benefit from being send too see an outside source (things like 'brain gym') as he appears to be struggling with basic formation of the letters still, and she's questioning his fine motor skills and co-ordination.

I've been advised to get him using play dough more, and other things that will involve him manipulate things with his hands to help improve things for him.

He's 7 at the moment. Funnily enough he's capable with Lego, but certainly seems to lack coordinated in ball sports and dance. He loves going to school, does seem to be bothered by the fact he has 'special lessons' (resource lessons and, aside from his handwriting, is doing well with his school work, his scores coming out as an average child for his age.

Anyone any other advise on how to help him out? I don't want him driven mad by extra work or anything but I'd like to do what I can for him.

mrz Fri 24-Jun-11 17:25:19

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:
Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
(mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
"monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
"Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles
Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
awareness in the hands.
Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

I also use a Busy Finger Box in the classroom but you could easily find most things at home

1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.

2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.

3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.

4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.

5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.

6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.

7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.

8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.

9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.

10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)

11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.

12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.

13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.

14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.

15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.

16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

Elibean Fri 24-Jun-11 19:07:20


I see mrz got here already.

I was going to say, 'mrz posted a great list of things you can do to help the other day but I can't remember where'!

FWIW, our Foundation Stage leader does a lot of fine (and gross) motor skills stuff with children who find writing difficult, and it makes an enormous difference relatively quickly. Really, really worth trying some of these suggestions - good luck.

PureBloodMuggle Fri 24-Jun-11 21:37:55

Wow mrz!!!

Well I suppose that'll give me a little something to start off with grin

I will most certainly go with these suggestions. That's good to hear elibean that it's relatively quick to make a difference.

It'll do him the world of good if he feels that the (barking mad) stories he writes can be read easily by others!!!


mrz Fri 24-Jun-11 21:40:29

has he ever been taught the correct sequence of movements to form letters correctly? where to start and direction of movements?

Panzee Fri 24-Jun-11 21:44:30

Thanks for these mrz. There's a boy in my school who needs some fine motor activities and this is just what I'm looking for. smile

laptopwieldingharpy Fri 24-Jun-11 21:49:26

great post mrz, OP you must be thinking i wish i hadn't asked!

PureBloodMuggle Fri 24-Jun-11 21:56:16

Yes he has, he does try and certain letters he's got it. But even with these letters they are still the wrong shape (at the wrong angle and the such) or incomplete. Letters are different sizes etc etc

I also did a programme though the school (Forward Together) that helped. Well it certainly helped with the reading anyway. I'm going to go over it again during the summer, though i don't want to push it too much as I know it'll make he resent writing and stop trying

mrz Fri 24-Jun-11 22:17:17

He needs to become automatic with the series of movements needed to form letters so the process is fluid = using the index finger on a table with eyes closed over and over until the finger tip becomes warm

PureBloodMuggle Tue 28-Jun-11 22:31:20

Thanks mrz

Will do that with him too

IndigoBell Wed 29-Jun-11 02:55:46

Writing problems can be caused by fine and gross motor skills problems as MRZ has discussed.

They can also be caused by visual perception problems. An excellent program to help with that is Write From The Start. He probably wouldn't object to doing a page or two of that every day with you over summer.

If there is any chance it could be a vision problem you should get his vision checked by a behaviour optometrist. Nobody else checks for these kinds of problems....

mrz Wed 29-Jun-11 07:43:35

I would also use "spot the difference" and "maze" puzzle books.

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