2A: Introduction to Handwriting

Handwriting is a complex task requiring a combination of strength, coordination, skill and ability. Children can have a huge range of difficulties which can impact upon their ability to develop handwriting. Some of these are linked to fine and gross motor skills, others are not but do still cause barriers to successful and effortless handwriting production.

Click the arrow to expand each one or click here to expand all of the examples below:

Skills needed for handwriting

  • Adequate postural control (core stability) to have control of the upper limbs
  • The ability to control the small muscles of the hand to move the pencil in the correct directions
  • Body awareness
  • Control of force of movement
  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Motor planning ability
  • Hand dominance
  • Perceptual skills
  • Visual discrimination
  • Recognition of shapes to form letters
  • Language processing at a cognitive level
  • Attention

Common Difficulties

  • Pushing too hard or not hard enough with a pencil
  • Ineffective pencil grasp
  • Hand pain
  • Swapping hands
  • Producing unrecognisable shapes on paper
  • Reversals and repetition
  • Leaning on tables
  • Slow to produce work
  • Fidgeting
  • Distractibility
  • Opting out

Activities to support handwriting in this module include:

Key Points

  • Handwriting is a very complex skill that relies upon a large number of sub-skills and abilities
  • If these fundamental skills and abilities are not yet secure, acquiring effective handwriting will be frustrating and exhausting, if not impossible

Thinking Points

  • Consider how frustrating it is for learners who have a great imagination and lots of ideas for writing but are not able to put the ideas down on to paper
  • Ask yourself if it would be appropriate to allow the learner to use an alternative method to record their work if handwriting itself is not the purpose of the activity