Strategies to Improve Penmanship
- Develop visual-spatial-directional awareness (compass directions) in 2-D and 3-D space.
- Focus on and attend to the body's position in space.
- Practice coordinating body parts to accomplish gross and fine motor tasks.
- Practice sensory integration (do together: talk/sing, move, feel, see, listen, visualize, think).
- Develop procedural sequential memory and muscle memory.
- Practice eye teaming, focus, sustained visual attention, tracking, and visual memory.
- Acquire muscle strength and coordination.
- Develop pattern recognition and automaticity in the rapid recognition and production of basic
symbols, phonological chunks, and vocabulary (in verbal and print forms).
People with handwriting difficulties lack a keen directional sense and awareness, and the control of one's body in space, necessary to guide posture, instrument control, visual memory and retrieval, and motor sequences to fluently form uniform characters on the page.
How, What, When, and Where?
Essential skills can be developed by parents, teachers, students, Vision Therapists, and Occupational Therapists. Key skills can be practiced everywhere, during daily chores, using ordinary things.
Writing of characters on 2-D paper requires fluid movement of the hand in 3-D space. To write, muscle memory is matched to the visual memory of the intended shape and is coordinated with fine motor strength and control. Learn the compass directions. Always get your bearings and speak in terms of cardinal directions when navigating. Practice drawing giant letters in the air; trace letters within guidelines while talking about the directions moved.
Before starting schoolwork, exercise for 30 minutes. Cross the left and right sides of the body while you sing or speak aloud to develop visual-spatial-directional-sequential muscle memory, coordination, focus, attention, and sensory integration-- all necessary for writing. Keep a tennis ball handy and squeeze it with each hand and both hands several times throughout the day to build strength.
Pattern Recognition and Visual-Spatial Reasoning
Play every day: card and board games, pattern blocks, puzzles, Legos and building toys, ride a bike, swim, walk, climb, or play sports. Moving the body through space helps develop the capacity for writing tasks.