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Does your child find handwriting difficult? Do you ever struggle to maintain your child’s focus when practicing handwriting? If that’s a yes, read below to learn more about multi-sensory approaches to increase your child’s engagement and foundation skills for handwriting. Our Occupational Therapist Emma Winters provides some amazing, fun, easy tips to try. Also check out her video here
What is a multi-sensory approach?
It is a method to engage more than one of our 8 sensory systems (visual, auditory, tactile, oral, olfaction, proprioception, vestibular and interoception) at a time. This could look like incorporating our visual, tactile and proprioception systems to enhance their ability to learn and absorb the information. Using a multi-sensory approach for handwriting is not only super fun, but still targets foundation skills. Some of these skills include: improving their hand strength, letter formation, upper body stability, fine motor skills, dexterity and spatial awareness.
1. Play Dough
Pick your child’s favorite color play dough and get them to roll it out on a flat surface. They can use their hands or a rolling pin to flatten it. From here, decide what you would like to create or spell. Can they try spelling their name by shaping the play dough into letters?
This activity is great to work on your hand strength, in-hand manipulation and letter formation.
2. Body language
Write a letter on a piece of paper or whiteboard (providing visual cues to increase visual motor integration), for example the letter “B”. Then ask your child to write the letter B with their body. They can do this by themselves, however, to make it more fun- ask a friend or family member to join!
This activity is great to work on visual motor integration (visual perception, motor coordination and planning), bilateral coordination, crossing midline and movement breaks.
3. Shaving cream
Time to get your hands messy!
You can use shaving cream a couple ways to practice handwriting. Spread the shaving cream out on a flat surface (like a tray) and then let your child write out letters, words or sentences using their fingers.
If getting their hands messy isn’t as fun, try filling up a zip lock bag of shaving cream and using a soft writing tool to write out letters, words or sentences. Tip: Look to see if they are using a functional pencil grasp, if not- try using an adaptive pencil grip.
This activity is great to work on letter formation, pencil grasp and spatial awareness.
4. Pipe cleaners
Grab a pack of pipe cleaners and get creative by forming letters out one or multiple pipe cleaners. To increase difficulty- practice scissor skills by cutting the piper cleaners to help form a letter (example: the letter “A” as pictured below).
This activity works on letter formation, scissor skills, and in-hand manipulation.
5. Vertical play
Using a whiteboard or an old fashioned chalkboard is a great way to encourage vertical surface play with your kiddo. This activity may be helpful for children who tend to fidget a lot when sitting or may prefer a standing position.
This activity is great to work on upper body stability, bilateral coordination, midline crossing, improves wrist extension and pencil grasp.
Tried all these and would still like some more help? Call to find out more about our Handwriting Club, or how to work 1-1 with an Emma, or one of our other Occupational Therapists.