When teaching we should always bear in mind that human learning is a stratified process. This implies that certain skills have to be mastered first, before it becomes possible to master subsequent skills. One has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. In the same way, there are skills that a child must have mastered first, before he or she will be proficient in handwriting. Unless underlying shortcomings are addressed first, the child’s handwriting will not improve.
In her book Learning Disabilities: Theories, Diagnosis, and Teaching Strategies, Janet Lerner states that some of the underlying shortcomings that interfere with handwriting performance are
1. Faulty visual perception of letters and words
2. Difficulty in retaining visual impressions
3. Poor motor skills.
The child’s problem may also be in cross-modal transfer from the visual to motor modalities.
The solution is thus to erase deficits in visual perception, develop visual memory and improve motor skills. To address the first two contact your nearest Edublox clinic. To improve motor skills and build hand strength do the exercise below on a daily basis.
Crumple papers exercise
For this exercise, one uses A4 size scrap paper. Give the child one sheet of paper in each hand. They must then simultaneously crumple both papers into tight balls. It is very important that each hand must strictly do its own work. The child should sit with their hands wide apart, so that one hand cannot offer any help to the other. They may also not press their hands against their body or on any other object, like a table. They should crumple at least three sheets of paper per hand per day.
If the child finds it difficult to crumple the stiffer paper with both hands simultaneously, one can temporarily allow them to crumple one sheet at a time, until their hands have become stronger. Then let them crumple two sheets of paper simultaneously. If crumpling the stiffer paper with one hand at a time is also too difficult, one can use pages from an old telephone directory, or sheets of any other paper that is as soft as, and about the same size as, a page of a telephone directory.
Other exercises that will help to improve hand strength, which ultimately leads to better handwriting is to throw and catch beanbags or koosh balls, and to squeeze stress balls.