SEN Magazine asked Sue Smits to share an insight into the most frequently asked questions on the main causes of messy handwriting and how it can be improved for their September / October 2023 publication. The truth is there is no quick fix or one size fits all solution, but we can help improve it in many ways.
Poor handwriting is comprised of a plethora of root causes. A multitude of combined factors can contribute within any age group or gender at any one time.
Common causes of handwriting issues
By compiling my years of evidence based research, classroom observations and my own experiences as a parent and grandparent, some key contributing factors are evident from birth and in early learning environments.
Poor development and weaknesses in fine motor skills can make learning to write challenging from an early age, especially when young emerging writers are learning letter formation and pencil grasp. In older children, poor bi-lateral integration and lack of binocular vision can impact handwriting ability.
In the SEN Magazine article, Sue addresses the following key topics –
- Pre-cursive and the entry/lead-in stroke legacy
- New guidance from the Department for Education
- The kinetic chain of development
- Primitive reflexes and handwriting
Most children, especially children with dyslexia and dyspraxia, are not afforded the time or opportunity to learn correct letter formation and spacing before progressing to joining. Learning similar letter shapes and formations encourages children to build muscle memory. If this is missed, then there is a higher chance that they will struggle with joined-up handwriting. The ideal age to start joined-up handwriting is 8 years old.
It is essential that all stakeholders involved in a child’s educational journey of learning to write have a good understanding of what is required for learning to write legibly.
It is no longer good enough to say ‘we have always done it this way.’ Each child is on their own journey with their handwriting. Therefore, it is up to us as educators, practitioners and parents to embrace the science and identify any early issues and make appropriate interventions.
Thank you to SEN Magazine for asking us contribute to your recent publication.