Improving Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills

Creating Coordination: 13 Tips for Improving Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills

Developing fine motor skills is crucial for young children to be able to succeed in the tasks required of them, both in and out of the classroom. Fine motor skills require the movement and coordination of the body’s smaller muscles, like hands, fingers, and wrists.

Tasks like writing, using scissors, buttoning clothing, eating, and turning pages require the precise movement of these important muscles. Typically, the development of fine motor skills comes after gross motor skills (involving larger muscles and movements) have had a chance to develop.

Even in today’s tech-heavy environments, handwriting is still a crucial skill for children to master. If you’ve noticed that your child is struggling with the movements that writing requires, it might be that they need help developing those fine motor skills.

How Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills Go Hand-in-Hand

Formation of Letters

Fine motor skills help a child properly form letters and numbers from top to bottom and left to right. While children might find it easier and more natural to form letters incorrectly, this will actually make handwriting more difficult and less efficient in the future. Children need developed fine motor skills to be able to move quickly and smoothly across the page.

Pencil Grip

In order for children to form letters and numbers properly and efficiently, they need to be able to hold their pen or pencil the right way. For most children, this doesn’t come naturally. They’ll need to be guided to hold their pencil correctly, which will probably take some time for them to get the hang of. This skill typically develops when a child is in kindergarten, but you can help them practice proper grip at home as soon as they begin coloring. Because of the specialized grip required to properly hold a pencil, developed fine motor skills are a must for mastering this crucial skill.

Writing Stamina

When children practice and develop their fine motor skills, the muscles in their hands grow stronger. The stronger the muscles are, the more stamina your child will have when it comes to writing. Children should practice as often as possible to keep from tiring out when it’s time to write.

13 Tips and Tricks for Improving Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills

If your child needs some assistance developing their fine motor skills to improve handwriting and other critical tasks, here are some ideas from the staff at our private elementary school in Atlanta:

1. Get Ready

  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth and hair
  • Feed self with silverware
  • Tie/fasten shoes
  • Pick up small toys

2. Play with Blocks and Legos

Playing with small Legos and blocks helps children develop the smaller muscles in their fingers, while also improving their hand-eye coordination.

3. Cut Paper

Grab a pair of child-safe scissors and give your child the opportunity to cut activity pages. These pages should include lines, patterns, and shapes that can be followed with the scissors.

4. Grip the Pencil (Correctly)

As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” However, practicing a task incorrectly can create habits that will be difficult to break down the road. When it comes to holding a pen or pencil correctly, perfect practice makes perfect. Help your child hold their pencil the right way. If you need a little assistance, try purchasing special pens or grips that can be attached to a pencil to allow your child to feel the proper grip.

5. Form Letters, Numbers, and Shapes

Give your child activity pages that allow them to trace and copy letters, numbers, and shapes. When practicing letters and numbers, make sure your child remembers to go from top to bottom and left to right.

6. Color Within the Lines

Most children love coloring, but it can be difficult to grasp the concept of coloring inside the lines. Try coloring with your child so they can see how to color inside the lines, and make sure they’re holding their crayons, pencils, or markers properly.

7. Fasten Zippers, Clasps, Buckles and More

Tasks that require precision, such as fastening zippers, clasps, buckles, and even tying shoelaces, are an excellent way to boost fine motor skills. Allow your child to perform these tasks whenever possible. Think of it as a workout for those little fingers.

8. Use Tongs and Tweezers

Just like the tasks above, using small tongs and tweezers to pick up and separate items can help your child develop their fine motor skills. Plus, it can make for a great game!

9. Thread Beads or Pasta

Another fun way to get those little fingers moving is to have your child thread beads, pasta, or cereal onto pieces of yarn or thread. If you want to take it a step further, grab some lettered beads and encourage your child to make bracelets or necklaces with their name and other sight words.

10. Draw

When children can engage in activities that they enjoy, they are more likely to learn and retain helpful skills and information. Most kids love to draw, and this activity helps to build strength and stamina, as well as solidify healthy habits. Just make sure they’re holding their drawing tools the right way.

11. Do Puzzles

Not only are puzzles a great way to stimulate a child’s mind, they’re also perfect for keeping little hands and fingers active.

12. Do Sensory Play

From a tray of dried beans to a pile of playdough, the options for sensory play are endless. When children use their hands for sensory-based activities, it helps foster the connection between hands and mind.

13. Catch and Throw

Not only is playing catch perfect for getting out some energy, it also helps improve hand-eye coordination, which develops fine motor skills and furthers the connection between a child’s mind and physical body.

Signs that Your Child Might Need Extra Help with Fine Motor Skills Development

  • Difficulty holding pens and pencils; using too much or not enough pressure
  • Difficulty buttoning clothing; doesn’t use both hands
  • Difficulty coloring inside the lines
  • Difficulty using scissors; can’t follow lines
  • Difficulty sitting still; always moving around when seated
  • Avoidance of fine motor-related activities and tasks

Whether your child is writing with ease or has just embarked on the road of handwriting, fine motor skills can always be improved. Activities that engage the body’s smaller muscles, especially the hands and fingers, will help your child develop and grow the strength, stamina, and control needed to write with neatness and precision.