National Handwriting Day!

National Handwriting Day is celebrated every year on January 23.  This day was invented during the 1970s, it is considered to be a holiday that is increasing in importance with the passing of each year. That’s because the art of handwriting is gradually being lost as more and more people use computers, tablets and phones to email, instant message and text their thoughts. Which is quite the shame because handwriting is believed to be as unique to a person as his or her fingerprint.

This day was chosen because it is John Hancock’s Birthday. He was the first person to provide his signature on the Declaration of Independence.  Writing is an opportunity for creativity and personal expression. Handwriting is important as the finger movements activate large regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory, and language. 

 

As pediatric occupational therapists, we are experts in the components involved in handwriting. For some kiddos, handwriting comes easy. For others, it is challenging and you may hear “I hate handwriting,” followed by a big sigh and an eye roll.

 

The best way to practice handwriting is by NOT to actually practicing handwriting. Work on the skills that support handwriting and this will help to encourage your child’s handwriting skills.

 

These skills include:

 

Posture : Children do not need to just sit at the table. They can sit on a large therapy ball, lie on their belly on the floor or stand and write on a vertical surface

 

Grasp: Your child’s grip may look like an octopus. One of our favorite recommendations is broken crayons or golf pencils. The less room they have to hold it in a funky way, the more appropriate the grasp looks

 

Body Awareness: Participating in movement activities BEFORE working on handwriting or fine motor activities (activities you do with your hands), the more AWARE the body is to learn

 

Shoulder, arms and hand strength: Wall push ups, high fives, hand push and pulls, open and close your hands are just a few ways to get the upper body ready for business.

 

Eye Hand Coordination: Handwriting requires the working together of your eyes and hands. Make sure your child has had their eyes check by an eye doctor within the past year. What was once the most dreaded time between you and your child could be easily improved.