Plenty of children struggle with messy handwriting and sometimes simply "practicing" doesn't always help. And, while pediatric occupational therapy will definitely help, there are things you can do at home. Below are three home-based exercises you can try with your child to improve their handwriting skills.
1. Egg Carton and Beans
This is an inexpensive activity you can have your child do at home with household materials. It uses an egg carton and dried beans. You will write a number inside each of the egg carton holes to reinforce a number and have your child toss in the right number of beans that go with that number. Make sure they hold the beans in their hand and then place each one by one into the container by moving one bean up to their fingertips every time. It's more difficult than it sounds, particularly for children who lack fine motor skills.
2. Forget the Pencils and Paper
There are many ways of practicing handwriting skill basics without using a pencil and paper, particularly if your child is a little reluctant to write. Fine motor activities and sensory activities that focus on the use of a pincher grasp on items are a perfect way of involving handwriting skills in a non-traditional manner. Some ideas you can start off with are:
- Use fingers or a paintbrush to write in cornmeal, salt, sand, or other fine sensory mediums
- Use playdough letter mats or playdough
- Form letters with WikkiStix
- Write in whipped cream or shaving cream (perfect if your child enjoys tasting things)
3. Towel Scrunching
This activity works best when your child is sitting at a table where there's support for their forearms. Lay the towel down flat on the table with the shorter side facing your child. Keep your child's arm flat on the table and then ask them to use their fingers so they're "walking" up the towel as they "scrunch" the towel as they go. Once the towel is scrunched as far as possible in their hand, have them reverse the process, pushing the towel away little by little.