When children begin to learn to read and write, one of the things that parents and teachers pay attention to is the way they draw the letters and how they write their first words.
It is normal that the first strokes are not perfect, since writing is a skill that is being acquired and that is evolving little by little. But once this skill is already acquired, around the age of six, we can see if the bad handwriting is maintained over time . We are going to talk about what could be behind bad handwriting and what we can do to improve it or help the child. 11 Uses of Baby Muslins.
Writing is a skill for which the child is preparing from birth, and in which several processes are involved:
- Development of psychomotricity: to be able to trace the letters.
- Development of laterality and spatial coordination: eye-hand coordination and the organization of writing in space are involved.
- Mental development: translate sounds into letters and words.
- Language development: ability to express ourselves and understand.
Children with bad handwriting
What is behind a bad letter? Writing involves different skills including calligraphy, the way each person writes. Calligraphy is the strokes that give rise to the written letter and that is different in each child, depending on their personality and the moment, since it can change according to the emotional state and behavior. There are days that make a more orderly and legible letter and others can write faster and messier, making the writing practically illegible.
There are studies that indicate that children who have poor handwriting have greater mental agility. According to the results of an investigation by the University of Illinois, people who have bad handwriting or “doctor’s handwriting” have a higher IQ than people with legible handwriting, and this is because their brain works faster than their hands . . These people prioritize faster mental processing over beautiful handwriting.
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bad handwriting vs. dysgraphia
What we must differentiate is if the child only has bad handwriting (does not write beautifully) or if there is something else behind it: dysgraphia, which is really a difficulty in learning to write . Let us remember that this is something to be observed when writing is supposed to be established from the age of six or seven , not when the child is learning to write.
Dysgraphia symptoms :
- Excessive rigidity or motor laxity.
- Disproportionate and irregular size in words and letters, even within the same paragraph.
- Difficulty organizing the letters within the word or phrase.
- Change direction when typing.
- Poor organization of space, unable to write on a line and within a few margins.
- Fragment the layout of the letters.
- The letters are illegible squiggles.
Dysgraphia can lead to learning disabilities, inattention, fatigue, or trouble expressing yourself. Children with dysgraphia can progressively overcome their difficulties with the help of a speech therapist until they achieve good writing.
What problems could be behind
Immaturity in the learning process
Sometimes it is simply that the child is not yet ready to write. As we saw before, it is a process that requires a series of skills that he will acquire from the moment he is born. Forcing a child to do something ahead of time for which he is not prepared is counterproductive. In that case, the bad handwriting is just a matter of maturity and with time it will improve .
The existence of sensory problems at the visual level can also be one of the causes of problems with the letter. Pathologies such as nystagmus (uncontrollable and involuntary movement of the eyes), lazy eye, convergence problems, statism or the usual refraction problems (myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism) are some examples that we can find.
It is important to check children’s vision periodically to make sure that it does not interfere with their learning and, if so, find a solution. Your child may need to wear glasses.
Motor or coordination problems
It is also possible to find multiple types of motor problems that cause alterations in calligraphy, points out neuropediatrician Manuel Antonio Fernández. “This is because there are many mechanisms involved in the development of writing. Some are purely mental and others depend on the activity of nerves and muscles, as well as the coordination between them.”
For example, a child with a brain injury to the left side of the brain is likely to have problems controlling movement on the right side. If the affected brain region includes manual control, this will be limited. In extreme cases, children are found to use their left hand not because they are left-handed but because they are unable to use their right.
“On the other hand, pathologies that affect the nerves or muscles such as neuropathies or muscular dystrophies can make it difficult to grasp the pencil as well as the speed of writing or the quality of the stroke,” adds the specialist.
Learning disabilities in childhood are a major cause of writing problems. Disorders such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can have a negative impact on the evolutionary processes of child development. Their knowledge and early detection is essential to find solutions that help the child to solve the difficulties they cause.
ADHD can cause poor handwriting and reading problems
According to the CADAH Foundation, hyperactive children often have difficulties in fine motor activities. On many occasions, hyperactive children present a poor handwriting, disorganized and with frequent omissions. There are two main reasons:
- Many children have poor hand-eye coordination and perceptual-spatial difficulties that make writing difficult.
- Others have fair motor coordination but lack adequate automation. There is a large number of hyperactive children who, being able to write adequately, are carried away by impulsiveness and lack of habit. That is, they can write well but they need to concentrate too much to be able to write consistently.
How to improve the letter
If we want to get the child to have a prettier handwriting, what we should do is as important as what we should not do:
What not to do to improve the handwriting
- Speed up learning : pretending that children learn to read and write when their brains are not yet ready for it is counterproductive.
- Tell him that he has bad handwriting or crush him: we will not get him to improve, but on the contrary; we will damage your self-esteem and you will end up hating writing. The handwriting is changeable and will continue to develop throughout the school life.
- Putting him to make calligraphy cards left and right : the solution is not found in mechanized repetition, the child has to see it as something motivating.
What to do to improve the handwriting
- Good posture : back straight and leaning on the back of the chair, which should be parallel to the table, without bringing your head too close to the page (stand 25 or 30 cm away) and avoid moving the paper continuously.
- A good pencil grip : the pencil should rest on the thumb and be held using the thumb, index and middle fingers without pressing too hard . This is a very common error that prevents the strokes from being smooth and harmonious. Do not put your fingers too far from the tip of the pencil, since they will not be able to control your writing. They should go about 2 to 3 cm apart. of the sheet.
- Coordination and relaxation exercises : have the children touch the tips of their fingers with their thumbs, first starting with the index finger and then with the little finger. They can even try with their eyes closed.
- Practice fine motor skills : let him play with clay, playdough, stringing objects, with chopsticks, lining up dominoes and any type of activities that encourage pincer grasp.
- Games that strengthen hands and arms : Playing with hand balls or any type of games that encourage hand-eye coordination.
- Practicing calligraphy while playing – There is no point in making calligraphy notebooks as a mechanized task because you will end up hating it. Do it as a game, write his name and that of his friends with different calligraphies, copy a song he likes, dictate the shopping list limiting the space with text boxes or lines…
- Consult a specialist : if once the writing is consolidated and despite trying to improve at home and at school, the bad handwriting persists over time, it is preferable to consult a specialist to determine if there could be some other type of problem behind it.