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Handwritingwithout Tears: Tips for Practicing Handwriting with your Child

Handwriting is a multifaceted process of coordinating hands, arms, eyes, and body posture. While it is undoubtedly important for writing-- in fact, K-5 teachers indicate that 24 to 58 percent of classroom time is spent writing on paper -- it is also a building block for many other skills. Being able to print letters clearly and with ease impacts children’s self-esteem, physical development, literacy skills, memorization, and creative writing. As a parent, youmaynotice thatyourchildstruggleswithhandwriting.Tobesure,10 to30 percentofelementarychildrendo.Herearesome tips formakinghandwriting more successful, and also ways that a pediatric physical therapist may help. WHAT YOU CAN DO? Help him increase his hand strength and writing endurance by: • Offering him a tennis ball with a slit in it; hide small objects inside the ball so that he must squeeze the tennis ball in order to retrieve the objects • Asking him to crumple a sheet of newspaper in one hand, while his arm is raised • Suggesting that he use his fingers to “walk” a tennis ball up and down his legs using one hand • Hiding objects in silly putty or theraputty for him to find MAKE IT FUN A lot of children and adolescents simply grow bored by the mechanical act of writing. You can make it more enjoyable by mixing up how and why your child writes. Also, mix up the reasons that she’s writing. Depending on her age, one day she might try circling a certain letter in the newspaper, and the next day she may send a postcard to Grandma. INCREASESTRENGTH. Asignificantnumberofchildrenlackthebodystrength to support lengthy stretches of writing time. It’s important for your child to gain strength, not only in her hand, but also in her shoulder muscles. Some suggested exercises to do this include: • People Push: Two children stand facing one another with their palms touching and one leg in front of the other. On the count of three, they begin

pushing each other as hard as possible until one person falls over. If there is a clear strength imbalance, encourage the stronger person to “go easy” or only use one hand. • Wall Push: With hands at shoulder-height, push against a wall as though it is falling down. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, then run around before repeating the exercise. • How a pediatric occupational therapist (or physical therapist) can help. A physical therapist’s role in this case is to assess the child’s handwriting and recognizeany issues thatmakehandwritingdifficult.Apediatricphysical therapist can evaluate a child for sensory, motor, perceptual and postural deficits.The therapistcansuggestmodifiedequipment,suchaspencilgrips, adjusted tables, or differently-shaped writing instruments. As technology becomes more pervasive, it may seem that handwriting is growing obsolete. However, this is an erroneous conclusion. People still need the skills to pen information carefully. If you suspect your child’s development is lagging, it may be time to consult a pediatric physical therapist or other professional for intervention. Source handwriting.aspx

Kids work hard for us in therapy. Why? Because it’s fun! We focus on what they need and what they love to do. That keeps them motivated, keeps them improving. We can’t wait to get to know your kid! Come play with us!

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