SOS for Fine Motor & Handwriting Skills

January 2019
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Learning to write legibly is a big focus at big school. Despite the fact that most children in 2019 spend more time on an electronic device than they do holding a pencil – handwriting is still a skill that needs to be mastered.

As a classroom teacher it would break my heart when I would see students falling behind or not finishing tasks simply because their handwriting was a problem. In some cases it can be a simple fix, however because writing is a complex and intricate process – it can often take a lot of time and effort for students to make progress in this area.


If you have significant concerns about your child’s handwriting you may want to consider consulting an occupational therapist. They may be able to assist you in the evaluation of your child’s sensorimotor, cognitive and psychosocial performance components.


It is important to understand that there are significant prerequisites for writing that occur well before a child attends school. They begin in infancy! If a child has formed poor habits or is underdeveloped in some areas, this can be part of the reason they struggle with writing at school.

Our aim at Sprout is to best support our students so that they can confidently engage with learning experiences at school. Supporting them in developing good habits for handwriting will reduce their anxiety around writing and improve the outcome of their best efforts.

Put very simply, writing involves:
1. The development of posture and balance
2. Grasp Strength and control of the pencil
3. Visual perception and memory
4. Strength and coordination of body, arms, hands


The ideal pencil grip is called the ‘dynamic tripod grip’ which is generally achieved between 5-6 years. To confidently control fine motor movements, children need to be able to hold some body parts steadily while others move (this can be very tricky for wriggly worms, or older students who tend to slump over their desk)

Potential Strategies for the classroom or home study space

If your child has trouble with handwriting, some or all of the following simple ideas may be implemented to best support your child at home or in their classroom.


Create a calming environment. In a child’s immediate workspace there should be limited clutter and visual stimulation. Where possible, limit the amount of stationary on the desk as this may distract students. Reduce the number of items hanging from the ceiling etc. The child needs to be supported in being able to focus their energy and attention on the task at hand without being overwhelmed with stimulation around them.
Don’t leave them in the dark

SOME visual information on the childs desk can be very helpful. A name card, alphabet line or number line can act as immediate cues to support children.

You can provide a ‘starting star’ or a margin line on the left of the page to prompt left-right orientation.


Keep it moving

Allow and encourage your child to vary their work postures. Place a time limit on seated tasks and allow movement such as completing some activities standing at a whiteboard.

Sprout Tutoring can create a personalised program for your child to specifically address remediation of their handwriting problems. Contact our director today to discuss the ways in which we could best support your child.

Written by Sprout Tutoring

Sprout Tutoring is a small, engaging, motivating space in West Geelong created for children to focus on learning without distraction. Sprout Tutoring nurtures learning, growth and development of children aged 4 – 12 years old with customised tuition programs in Literacy and Numeracy.