Is your child:
Does your child have poor or illegible handwriting? She may become frustrated and have crinkled papers all over her desk. Alternately, he may not realize his handwriting is so sloppy and may be surprised when no one can read it. Children with poor penmanship may write ill formed letters that are hard to read. Some of the issues may be:
Your child with handwriting problems may also have trouble copying from the board or transferring information from one place to another. Your child may hate to write and seem to get much less down on paper then he or she wants to say. He or she may seem inattentive, rushed, or very slow in working style. Your child may seem to exert extraordinary effort to do writing tasks. Sometimes, they may refuse or avoid writing tasks; other times, it may take them a very long time to write short sentences.
Clinically, poor handwriting is generally considered a problem with fine motor skills.
Fine Motor delays: Fine motor is the coordination skills required to complete smaller, complex movements with the hands and fingers. With younger children in preschool and kindergarten, fine motor skills may be a bit behind due to lack of exposure and practice. This delay is not cause for concern.
Preference for gross motor activities: Some children who are more drawn to gross motor activities, such as running and riding a bike, rather than coloring and drawing, may simply not have enough practice with grasping a pencil or crayon. These concerns can be remedied with proper time and attention. However, if the child is becoming so frustrated and slow with his or her writing that these challenges are truly getting in the way, it may be worthwhile to look into them further.
Attention: Another issue to consider is whether your child has the attention skills to focus on his or her handwriting. If sustaining attention is an issue, it could be a sign that testing is warranted. Problems with handwriting could also be related to the areas of concern listed under Similar Symptoms.
In the younger grades, at least from kindergarten through third grade, it is important to put interventions in place to make sure your child knows how to write. Poor or illegible handwriting could have life-long effects.
Try different types of pencils and paper. Giving your child a variety of options can help make handwriting less laborious. Writing on a vertical surface helps work on many skills contributing to handwriting, including:
Try writing on a whiteboard or drawing letters in the sand. Handwriting without tears  is an excellent program for working on letter formation and general writing skills. Generally, with practice and repetition, a child’s handwriting will improve.
Suggestions to help with your child’s handwriting
Too much pressure
Too little pressure
Body Awareness (warm up exercises)
Handwriting grasp (promoting the mature dynamic tripod grasp with thumb, index and middle finger with open web space)
Visual Motor Integration
In the older grades, handwriting is much less important than content. Once your child is in middle school or beyond, focus those resources on typing and dictation. Google or Dragon Dictation offers a chance for your child to speak what he wishes to write and then to edit this text on the computer. Typing and speaking more lengthy text can save lots of time and will be more practical as your child gets older.
If your child is struggling with a similar problem, not directly addressed in this section, see the list below for links to information about other related symptom areas.
Children who have significant problems in this area may have any of the following potential disabilities. *Note, this does not serve as a diagnosis in any way. See ‘Where to Go for Help’ section for professionals who can diagnose or provide a referral.
If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his learning, relationships, or happiness, the following professionals could help; they may offer diagnosis, treatment, or both.
These professionals may recommend or administer the following tests for this symptom:
 Handwriting without tears.
 Amundson, S., & Schneck, C. (2010). Prewriting and handwriting skills. In Case-Smith, J., & O’Brien, J. (Eds.). Occupational therapy for children (681-711). St. Louis: Mosby. 
 Dragon Speak App.
 Mather, Nancy & Goldstein, Sam (2015). Learning disabilities and challenging behaviors: Using the building blocks model to guide intervention and classroom management, third edition.
 Peacock, Gretchen Gimpel & Collett, Brent (2010). Collaborative home/school interventions: Evidence-based solutions for emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.
Description: Cute girl writing something, isolated on white background
Image ID: #59676679 (Shutterstock)
Previously Licensed on: May 13, 2017
Stylized by Katie Harwood exclusively for Clear Child Psychology