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Occupational Therapy Recommendations
Here are the Basic Skills for Handwriting!
Visual Motor Skills
Visual Perception
Fine Motor Skills
Trunk Control
Shoulder Stability
Welcome to the basics of handwriting!
Without skill in these five areas, a child is not ready to write.
Read on to learn how to help a child improve these foundational skills.

This term describes a child's ability to copy shapes, letters or numbers. Specifically, it means using vision to guide written output.
Basic visual motor skills for the preschooler entails drawing a line to join objects. More advanced examples of this skill involves copying cusive letters accurately.

Our Worksheets Section has been professionally designed by an Occupational Therapist to provide suitable activities to practice visual motor skills for all age groups.

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This term describes a child's ability to use visual information to make meaning of what he sees. When learning letters a child must be able to recognize letters, recall what a letter looks like and discriminate between two familiar letters such as "b" and "p".
Any suspicion of difficulties in this area should indicate formal testing with a developmental optometrist.
Barring problems with vision, improving a child's visual perception can be achieved through a variety of activities:

1 Using form boards or magnetic letters, play a recognition game. Starting with a limited number of letters, ask the child to recognise a letter and then place it in order of the alphabet (for younger children, use the abc's song).

2 Place several letters face up on the table and ask the child to find a specific letter. Try using stickers that are letters for this game. Then the child can peel the letter off.

3 Place an alphabet strip before the child. Draw part of a letter such as a circle. Ask the child to find and draw as many letters as he can that include this shape.

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As fine motor skills mature, three hand characteristics develop. These include:

1 Development of a transverse arch from the thumb side to the pinky side of the hand, giving a curved look to the back of the hand.
2 An "open web space" between the thumb and forefinger is noted when holding objects in the hand.
3 Separation of the two sides of the hand evolves, with the thumb side of the hand developing refined dexterity skills while the pinky side of the hand offers strength and stability.

Difficulty with fine motor skill causes a child to have difficulty with fasteners such as buttons or snaps, poor pencil grip (often holding a pencil in a fisted grip) and an inability to work manipulatives such as stringing beads or joining lego pieces.
Ideas to improve fine motor skills include the following:

Cutting or tearing paper, construction paper, cardboard or putty.
Stringing small beads to make snakes or necklaces, completing lacing cards.
Playing with resistive putty to make food (hot dogs, pizza with toppings, pancakes), hiding small objects in putty such as pennies or beans and then trying to find them.
Picking up small items using tweezers.

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To understand the importance of a strong and stable trunk, just think about a fishing rod. Imagine a rod made of rubber. Try casting a line - it simply wouldn't work. With a floppy rod your control of the line and hook would be non existant. Look out!
A child's trunk is like the fishing rod. A strong and steady trunk provides the base of support needed for delicate fine motor tasks like writing.

How do I know if a child has poor trunk control?
Observe the child during a ten minute coloring or writing task. Does he lean his arms or body on the table? Does he rest his head on his hands?
These are signs of weakness with trunk control.
Try the following activities:

1 Animal walks such as crab (sit on the floor, put your hands on the floor behind you and then lift your bottom up) or bear (put hands and feet on the floor) walks.

2 Encourage child to perform activities on his tummy on the floor. Try coloring, drawing, playing with lego or blocks. Do not allow him to rest head on hands. This is a great way to strengthen back muscles!

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Many muscles around the shoulder work together to hold this joint stable. When writing, we use very slow, well controlled shoulder movements. If a child has poor shoulder stability, then he cannot hold this joint stable. If this joint is loose, then fine motor control needed for writing is impossible to achieve. Clearly, writing skills suffer.

A child has problems with shoulder stability if he cannot hold himself in a hands and knees position or locks the elbow joint in this position. He may brace his arm against his side when engaged in a fine motor activity.

Try these activities to improve shoulder stability:

1 Stand at a vertical surface such as a chalkboard to write, draw or color on paper positioned on a vertical surface (such as standing at the chalkboard).

2 Encourage child to play with games in the quadruped (hands and knees) position. Try setting up dominoes or play Jenga.

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