Handwriting, Reading and School Skills

The following information is provided by Dr Carina Capra, who is an occupational therapist experienced in the management of ADHD.  To make an appointment with Carina call us on 3463 0722. 


Did you know that handwriting is a very complex process that draws on many different skills? If a child is having difficulties with any of the skill areas required in handwriting, learning can become frustrating, tiring and stressful. As parents, we know the impact that these struggles can have in a classroom but also at home.  Occupational therapy can help your child to improve their handwriting and other skills important for learning at school. 

Occupational Therapists are trained to look at motor, cognitive, sensory and interpersonal skills. These skills can impact on a child’s functioning – including handwriting and broader school skills. Occupational Therapy can help parents and teachers to understand what motivates children to act or behave in certain ways.  


There are many skill areas important to handwriting:

  • Fine motor skills: how children use their hands to perform motor tasks, such as handwriting, threading, cutting and doing-up buttons.
  • Gross motor skills: how children use their body to perform motor tasks, such as climbing, jumping, catching, and kicking.
  • Visual perception: this is the ability to interpret and understand what is seen. It is not a test of visual acuity. Visual-perceptual skills gives us clues about children’s catching and throwing when playing ball games with peers, copying from the whiteboard as a student, reading skills, or finding and organising themselves with their belongings.
  • Visual motor integration: the taking in of information visually, then using this information in order to plan our movements. For example, looking at a letter, then planning where we want to move our pencil in order to write that letter.
  • Sensory processing: this involves taking in information through the senses (e.g. ears, nose, eyes), making sense of it, and using it to respond appropriately for the given situation. For instance, a child with good sensory processing skills is able to block out background noise such as other children talking, to listen to the teacher’s instructions.
  • Sensory motor skills: Specific sensory motor components (muscle tone, balance etc) can affect posture, attention, and behaviour in the classroom. 

An Occupational Therapist will assess these skill areas and provide advice, support and practical strategies for helping your child to improve their handwriting and develop their confidence with school work. 

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