How Can I Support My Child’s Handwriting?

Jan 21, 2020 | Caregiver Resources, Resources for Adults, Resources for Infants, Toddlers & Kids | 0 comments

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Handwriting is a key skill that children start to learn as soon as they grasp a marker and try to color on the wall. There are so many different skills that must work together with handwriting including hand-eye coordination, grasping, strength, vision, and control of the tool the child is using to write. It is key to begin working on handwriting skills as soon as a child shows interest as we must first learn how to make simple shapes before we are able to write short stories. Here are some tips and tricks for handwriting:

Special thanks to Collaborative Corner and their help in providing this resource.

Ages 1-2
Children begin to scribble

  • Provide children with easels or a vertical surface to color on as this promotes strength and visual attention.
  • Schedule an appointment with your optometrist to make sure that your child’s vision is appropriate.
  • Use small tools as children have small hands. A great tip is to use broken crayons as this will help build the small muscles in each child’s hand.
  • Tip: Do NOT break the crayon in front of the child as this will result in your child’s new favorite game of breaking crayons.

Ages 2-3
Children become more coordinated with writing and start to imitate shapes

  • Practice vertical and horizontal strokes. A great trick is to add fun noises with each movement as this makes the child more interested.
  • Consider using shaving cream on the wall when the child is in the bathtub. This is a great way for the child to explore with sensory input and to build their hand-eye coordination skills.
  • Practice making circles and crosses. A helpful trick when making circles is to first have the child go around a preferred object. For example, if your child loves Legos, place a Lego on the table on top of a piece of construction paper and draw a circle around the Lego. Show the child how to do it first and then prompt them to try.

Age 4
Children continue to become more coordinated with basic strokes and should start to hold their writing tool the same way their parents do

  • Continue to practice simple shapes and add more including squares, triangles, and even diamonds.
  • Encourage your child to draw people. At this age, we would love to see basic stick figures with multiple body parts.
  • Consider tracing capital letters and numbers.
  • Tip: Children must first be shown how to write a letter before they are expected to write it. Always take a moment to show your child first. If we do not show our child, he or she is simply connecting dots on a piece of paper and not learning how to form a letter, this is called letter drawing not handwriting.

Age 5+
Children will begin to write their name and draw more complex people.

  • Continue drawing people with at least 10 body parts. This not only helps a child with writing formation but also with body awareness skills.
  • Encourage a child to produce capital letters and numbers with a model. Tip: Provide a child with a picture of what the letter should look like as a model each time they write the letter. Oftentimes on common worksheets children copy what they write instead of copying the correct model.
  • Introduce lowercase letters after your child is successful with capital letters and numbers.

A helpful curriculum that guides handwriting development by developmental progression is: The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Occupational therapists (OTs) commonly use this curriculum as it provides great visual models and encourages the child to learn letters in a developmentally appropriate sequence. For more information visit the website here.

For any other questions, please feel free to reach out via email at A timely response will be provided within 24 hours.

Happy Writing!

Alysha Stoner, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist


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