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handwriting/fine motor skills - advice?

(18 Posts)
butteriesplease Wed 04-Jun-14 10:45:31

hiya, DS1 is 9 (nearly 10). His handwriting is pretty awful, and I think he may have problems with fine motor skills - can anyone recommend things that might be fun (?!) to help him?

I'm considering getting 'Write from the Start' but it's £25, have got him pencil grips and triangular pencils and try to encourage him to form his letters correctly (he does o backwards, and often p and b are done 'loopy', rather than stalk and round, IYSWIM) and just generally it's all a bit scruffy. I feel all I do is nag about his blinking handwriting, but I know he finds it hard, and want to help him. Any ideas gratefully received.

DS1 isn't SEN, but I read on another thread on a similar topic in AIBU, that this was the place to come... hope that's ok.

QueenofLouisiana Wed 04-Jun-14 22:35:42

Write from the start is fine and does what it says. However it feels quite young- my yr 6s would be a bit confused at it! The dinosaurs are lovely, but not cool! I have found this quite good with older children. It takes a bit of setting up, but it was worth it.

allisgood1 Wed 04-Jun-14 22:38:33

Try "handwriting without tears". Though "write from the start" is also very good. Triangular grips are good and use a slope (try a large file folder closed).

allisgood1 Wed 04-Jun-14 22:39:52

Also don't strive for perfection. We do more typing than handwriting nowadays so if his writing is understandable then focus on teaching him to type.

QueenofLouisiana Wed 04-Jun-14 22:40:53

Also, have you seen those pencils that look like Ys? I'll try to find a link. They are meant to be really good- but I've never used them.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 04-Jun-14 22:43:45

If his fine motor skills are generally week there are things you can do to help build the strength and his coordination. Lego is good as is playdough or as he's a little older than your average playdough user something like fimo/ clay that you bake and can keep.

Little and often builds strength. DS1 is at a special needs u it now and they do 30 minutes fine motor skills work each morning. Some of it is handwriting but they do other activities too.

QueenofLouisiana Wed 04-Jun-14 22:45:18


LJBanana Wed 04-Jun-14 22:53:49

I've just bought write from the start for my ds1. He is in year one though and it's pitched at this age group. So it might be a bit young for your DS.
It also says in the teachers manual that it's most successful with a younger age group- I can't remember what ages it says and I'm in bed.

gilmoregirl Wed 04-Jun-14 23:02:54

DS has issues with similar. Does your DS go to a handwriting or motor skills group at school? I have been told that doing Hama beads and other crafts and popping bubble wrap is good for improving motor skills. I just bought a cheap picture bead set from tesco and tons of bubble wrap. DS is z8 so I think the handwriting stuff I have seen is too young.

heather1 Wed 04-Jun-14 23:07:09

I would say some sessions with an Occupational therapist. My Ds 9 handwriting was also bad. He's being having once a week OT for a couple of months now and I've seen a real improvement in his handwriting.
Some of the exercises she has been doing with him are:
Holding a bead and rolling it between finger and thumb one way and then the other, and then working his way down his fingers.
Practising writing neatly using a pencil and looking at how hard he is pressing with the pencil. If pressing hard then rewriting the word lightly.
Flicking marbles between the gaps of 4 corks lines up in a row.
Holding a cork between fingertips and turning it over using all the fingertips.
My understanding is that with handwriting a lot is to do with the strength of the shoulder muscles and general muscle tone in the body. So an assessment for this by OT might be useful.
Just out of interest it might be worth seeing if there is a difference in his handwriting when he has to think of sentences to write e.g. Writing a story, as opposed to copying text or taking dictation. Often this can indicate that his brain is struggling to deal with all those different elements and so the handwriting gets worse.
Have you spoken to his teacher?

turdfairynomore Wed 04-Jun-14 23:13:09

Is his issue grip? Pressure on page? Pressure on page is an upper arm/gross motor/strength issue-so table "press ups"/weight bearing on arms helps. If it's grip, ditch the pencil and do anything that uses the first two fingers and thumb eg time him putting 20 clothes pegs around a piece if card. Better still-record it on a phone and then see if he can beat his time. Can he do more in the same time? Get him to use tweezers to move dried peas-race him!! Get him to thread Cheerios on a strawberry lace -then eat them! Get him to pick up and "palm" buttons or peas-so puck them up and put them into palm one handed and without turning his hand over. Tear newspaper into strips-that uses those fingers too. Put a strip on a table with the heel of hand at bottom of strip. Keep heel of hand still and use first two fingers to grab the paper and slide it under hand. Race him to see who can concertina the paper first!! My kids still do this with paper napkins in restaurants! And they are 19&16!

Mumzy Wed 04-Jun-14 23:19:59

try these ergonomic pens with daily exercises

butteriesplease Thu 05-Jun-14 09:45:52

thanks guys - lots of excellent suggestions, will read through properly and get to it.

I have indeed spoken to his teacher - who tried to get him some additional help (he's P5 as we are in Scotland, and I'm slightly p-ed off that his earlier teachers didn't think to do anything, other than just say practice, anyhoo...) but no luck, as I guess it's low down the list.

I think the issue is grip rather than pressure on the page, so will concentrate on ideas for that.

out of interest Heather1, how did you get your son referred to an OT, or did you go private (if I may ask).

thanks QueenofLouisiana for the Y-shaped pen link, I think DS1 would love that!

Mumzy and everyone else - thank you so much for taking the time to post/link etc - all really, really helpful.

gilmoregirl - a handwriting group at school - we can only dream of such things wink DS1 and DS2 may perhaps set their own up at our dining table tho...

Soapysuds64 Mon 09-Jun-14 21:28:32

I feel your pain..... my dd (8 - just finishing P3) is going through this. I am off to buy 'Write from the start' for her, because her school has just said there is nothing they can do to help her - they have no resources, money, facilities or expertise to help her improve her writing. She is gradually slipping back in her school work, but things are not so bad that targets for literacy etc are not being met.

She has had some OT to improve her motor skills, but this doesn't include writing. Judging by your username, I am wondering if you live in the Granite City? If you do, I cannot see things improving for you anytime soon - we have decided to move her to an independent school, although I am hearing things are better in the Shire.

gilmoregirl Mon 09-Jun-14 23:35:42

Hi again, DS has been referred to OT but there is a six month waiting list here ( and in many other places as far as I know), he was referred by school to the community health team and then on to several other services, one of which is OT and what other services (speech and language therapy, paediatrician etc) have said is most suitable.

May be worth asking school if there is anything they can offer or refer? I didn't find out about the school handwriting or motor skills group until recently.

Good luck.

butteriesplease Wed 11-Jun-14 10:30:58

thanks Soapysuds64, am originally from Granite city, but am now central belt - I think I need to just do this at home, school clearly won't refer him at nearly 10years old, but I will ask (again...)

I am going to order the y-shaped pens (DS1 liked the look of them!) and use a slope (ie old lever arch file). I'm encouraging him to do lots of loom banding to try and help his fine motor skills (I had a shot, and it's pretty fiddly), and we'll try and get him to keep a holiday diary or something to keep him writing over the summer hols (only a few weeks away now!).

Soapysuds64 Thu 12-Jun-14 14:21:26

The y shaped pens and slope didn't work for us - but that's not to say they won't work for you. Try not to focus toooooo much on the hand writing (hard, I know) and do other exercises to improve muscle strength. I have been battling for dd to use a ipad with keyboard for school - sadly, they would not allow it in class but she uses it (and touch types) her homework. This doesn't tire her and so the content of her writing is better. An Occupational Therapy assessment was really helpful for us - they showed us the things that would help so we knew what to buy, rather than us buying everything and hoping it would work. Even if you have to go private, I would imagine it would work out cheaper than buying gadgets that don't work.

butteriesplease Wed 25-Jun-14 13:57:04

thanks soapysuds. I've looked but can't see any private OTs in our area - I'll look again. you are right of course, I may be buying the wrong stuff for ds' issues. I'll see if I can find someone over the holidays, when we could potentially travel further for it.

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