Is Your Child Ready to Write? Part 1

May 11, 2017

One question I wish more parents would ask themselves is whether their child is ready to write. Many parents and educators have expectations that children should know how to print their names before they start formal schooling. However, rarely is the question asked of whether a child is ready. There are Six Essentials to consider as essential in building a foundation for writing and printing skills. Without a mastery of these developmental skills, a child can learn poor habits and become fatigued and frustrated with learning, something no parent wants.

1. Posture & Balance: A child must be able to sit upright in a chair without requiring additional support from the use of his/her arms. Good posture helps a child to sit for long periods of time while allowing the hands to be free and ready to write.

2. Shoulder Stability: A child must be able to coordinate and hold weight at the shoulder joint. Strength develops from the joint closest to the torso to the joints farthest at the fingertips.

3. Arm Control: A child must be able to move the arm with accuracy with different levels of force and speed. Different writing tools (marker vs pencil) require the application of lighter or stronger pressure.

4. Bilateral Coordination: A child must be able to use both hands together to accomplish a task. Typically a child will use one hand as the “doer” and the other as the “helper” during handwriting.

5. Pencil Grasp: A child must be able to hold onto a writing tool in a functional manner. As the child grows, the grasp becomes more efficient where the small muscles of the hand are creating the movement instead of the wrist or arm.

6. Visual Motor Coordination: A child must be able to coordinate the eyes and hands to create and imitate formations to connect, intersect, or maintain within the boundaries of images. Shapes are learned in a sequence from simple to more complex.

If you feel that your child is demonstrating difficulty developing these skills, you should consult or seek an evaluation with an occupational therapist to help get your child ready to write. Have a playful day!

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, award-winning author, and Founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy and its PALS Handwriting Program, visit www.playapy.com or email info@playapy.com.

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