Headstart for Life

Simple Tips to Help Your Child Be Handwriting-Ready

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2020 by 2 minutes


Hello! Welcome back to Beyond Therapy.

This week, I would like to share some tips on how to support your child’s development of handwriting skills. Many parents are concerned with handwriting because it is a fundamental skill that may impact school performance. However, hand functions and handwriting often emerge simultaneously with the natural development of the child. Handwriting activates a complex motor and cognitive planning. This is why it takes time to develop. Some children may be ready for handwriting by the age of 4 while others may need more time. As parents, we should respect our child’s developmental process by allowing them to develop writing skills at an appropriate pace.

In this post, you will find some simple tips, exercises and activities that you can try with your child to support them be “Handwriting-Ready”.


Supporting the development of body structure

Handwriting requires the integration of various sensorimotor components. Before a child can start to write, he or she needs to be able to support and coordinate their body, hands, and finger muscles.  We cannot write properly if we do not have the strength to sit up straight or hold the pencil. Occupational Therapists can advise on the activities that your child needs to get stronger. Here are some basic tips and exercises you can try on your own:


Physical Activities
There are many physical activities that work on core strengths and body coordination. Some basic ones are crawling, jumping, and obstacle courses. 

Practice crawling as part of an obstacle course

Practice crawling as part of an obstacle course. Picture extracted from Freepik.com.

Sitting on stools without backing
We can make simple environmental changes to support our child’s writing. For example, use stools without backings to prevent your child from slouching into the chair during handwriting practices. This will force the body to prop and support itself in a neutral position ideal for writing tasks.

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Sit on a stool with no backing to encourage writing with a neutral position.


Warm-Up Activities
There are many warm-up exercises you can do with your child before their handwriting practice. These warm-ups serve to alert the senses and prep the body for writing. Try these actions before the writing practice:

    1. Hands reach up to the sky
    2. Stretch hands to the side
    3. Shoulder Shrugs
    4. Push Palms together
    5. Tug and pull fingers
    6. Hug yourself

If you would like to know more about the different warm-up actions and games for handwriting, consult your occupational therapist. You can also check out this website: https://www.teachhandwriting.co.uk/handwriting-warm-up-exercises.html 


Supporting the development of Pre-writing Skills

ready to learn1

Pre-writing skills are the fundamental basics of writing. These may include splashing paint, creating marks, short to long linear strokes, curved lines, and basic shapes. The goal of pre-writing activities is to equip the child with foundation concepts and to cultivate the inherent interest in writing. We can support the development of pre-writing skills through fun and exploratory activities such as:

  1. Painting.
    Painting is fun and liberating. It shows the child the cause and effects of using an instrument on the paper. Explore lines and shapes using different writing instruments such as brush, sponge, fingers, sticks. 
  2. Coloring.
    Coloring can be a strenuous activity due to the repetition of up-down strokes or other directional strokes. It serves as a good opportunity to practice and refine fine-motor skills.
  3. Tracing the “Lazy 8”.
    The infinity loop or the “Lazy 8” figure requires the crossing of our mid-line which supports the bi-lateral integration of our senses. This is important as handwriting often involves the use of both the dominant and non-dominant hands, along with other motor functions. Start on either side of the infinity loop and ask your child to continuously trace the figure without lifting the pencil or crayon. Continue to trace for several rounds. Have fun with different mediums such as crayons or paint, and turn the music on!


There are many things we can do as parents to help our child be Handwriting-Ready. The idea is to provide adequate opportunities for practice and to cultivate an interest in handwriting. Every child has their own developmental pace and handwriting skills can be targeted only when the child is ready. To know more about your child’s handwriting readiness, consult with your occupational therapist for more details. I hope you enjoy the suggested activities! 

Don’t forget to share with us your comments below!


Happy Writing!

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Jesline

Jesline believes that every child can learn given the right learning process, and strives to make every learning experience fun and enjoyable. She also loves art and enjoys sharing this passion with the children. In her free time, she enjoys splashing paint on canvases and jiving to 20s swing music.

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