Whether you agree with reopening schools or not – one thing is certain: there will be many kids at home this fall. Children at home will no doubt feel the impacts of losing their daily routine, social interactions, and educational aspects of attending school. We understand that parents and caregivers are experiencing stress and fear of the unknown during this current pandemic. This article will provide ideas on activities for your children to participate in at home with a focus on handwriting skills. In my experience with pediatric therapy I have learned one of the best factors to help encourage children to participate in writing tasks is a routine and a good set up. Pick a time of day to complete these tasks and try to stick to it to form a routine. One way to help children with attention issues is to eliminate visual and auditory distractions around the work area. Children may attend better with different seating options, timers, and exercise breaks in between tasks. Here is an article on setting up an academic space for children with various sensory processing needs (which is helpful for all children): https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-sensory-processing-issues.
The following is a list of activities and resources for handwriting activities you can implement at home – no matter where your child is academically, you can always grade a task to be challenging yet achievable!
- Fine motor skills- A great way to help develop the muscles of the hands for pre-writing skills is to provide fine motor activities for children. These can be fun and easy to get children to participate in. Here is an online list of various FM games: https://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/kindergarten-hand-exercises.html
- Letters – If your child is not developmentally ready for handwriting, begin working on letter recognition and sounds. You can do this through the use of magnetic letters, demonstrating writing out letters while making sounds, and watching an ABC song with visual cues online.
- Free scribble – Encourage free scribbling and coloring with various writing utensils at a young age. You can help your child progress to lines and shapes when he or she is ready. The following link will show developmental levels of handwriting – although keep in mind children who are developmentally behind may not be at an age appropriate level. It is important to find where your child is developmentally to find the just right challenge! https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/305-learning-to-write-and-draw
- Hand over hand and tracing- When your child is learning how to form letters, you can provide hand over hand assistance. To make writing fun, provide different ways to practice formation. The child can paint letters, trace in shaving cream, or use paint brushes to form letters in textures like sand or sprinkles. https://simpleplayideas.com/fun-ways-practice-writing-letters
- Creative handwriting – Make writing fun! Have your child make a list of his or her favorite games, sports teams, or movie characters. If they enjoy reading or watching movies, have them write answers to a series of questions regarding the story.
- If you have online access at home, here are a few websites with free reading and writing learning activities for children of all ages:
At Beyond Therapy for Kids we want our families to know we are here for you during this difficult and unknown time. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for more resources for children whether they are returning to school or attending virtual school.
Sarah Beth Putt, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist at Beyond Therapy. She received her masters in occupational therapy in 2017 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson MS. Before OT school, she attended Mississippi State University – Go dawgs! She currently resides in Flowood, MS with her husband and two boxers.