Patient Care

Handwriting Difficulty (Children)

What is Handwriting Difficulty in Children?

Handwriting is a complex process involving smaller skill sets associated with the sensory-motor, visual perceptual and cognitive domains. If a child has a problem in learning any of these smaller skill sets, learning to write will be a slower and more difficult process than for his or her peers of the same age.

Several factors can contribute to Handwriting Difficulties in a child. Some common ones include:

  • Poor postural control and muscle tone
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Poor bilateral integration (coordination of the left and right side of the brain and body)
  • Poor visual perception and visual motor integration (eye-hand coordination)
  • Poor visual functions or visual tracking (coordinated eye movements)
  • Poor cognitive ability
What are the signs & symptoms of Handwriting Difficulty in Children?
  • Poor posture when writing
  • Inconsistent hand dominance
  • Poor or awkward pencil grip
  • Hard or light pencil pressure
  • Difficulty with letter formation
  • Difficulty with letter size and alignment
  • Difficulty with letter and word spacing
  • Letter reversals / Mirror writing
  • Complaints of hand fatigue during writing
  • Slow and effortful writing
  • Untidy and illegible writing

Please note that some of the above signs are common in pre-schoolers when they first start to write. You may wish to seek clarification from an occupational therapist if you are unsure.

Caring for children with Handwriting Difficulty?

Here are some fun activities you can engage your child in to develop his/her postural control, fine motor skills and interest in writing:

  • Provide your child with different drawing materials (e.g. markers, chalk, colour pencils, crayons, paint) and surfaces (e.g. paper, vertical whiteboard or chalkboard, painting easel) to scribble and draw on. This can start from as young as 18 months.
  • Have your child form and trace shapes or letters using his/her fingers in different textured materials (e.g. sand, play dough, shaving cream, paint, carpet, felt or flannel cloth).
  • Engage in activities such as mazes, connect the dots, colouring, cutting or pasting craft activities.
  • Play with blocks, beads, building bricks, pegs or any toys that involve manipulation of small parts.
  • Use play dough to roll, knead, pinch, press with hands and fingers. You can also hide objects in the play dough for your child to find.
  • Engage your child in play activities at the playground (e.g. climbing, swinging).
  • Consider pushing and pulling games (e.g. tug of war).
  • Pretend to walk like animals with both arms and legs with weight bearing on the ground.
  • Consider games involving spatial concepts (e.g. have your child copy patterns with toy building blocks or bricks and play 'Simon Says').
Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

You can search by -
  • Condition name 'Handwriting Difficulty (Children)' AND
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