24 February, 2017
Poor handwriting is often attributed to a lack of fine motor control and hand-eye coordination, with postural concerns quickly overlooked. Core strength and postural control (gross motor skills) are vital for sitting upright to provide the necessary foundation for the delicate hand and wrist movements required to write and draw.
Imagine if you spent all of your energy ensuring you did not fall off your seat; how much energy would you have left for fine motor control of your hand?
Poor posture can be seen in children with or without specific diagnoses. Some common labels of children with posture and movement difficulties include:
- Low muscle tone
- Sensory processing problems
- ADHD / ADD
- and more.
My child uses their laptop or tablet at school, is handwriting an important a skill anymore?
Neat handwriting is important for academic performance and self-esteem in children’s development. The fine motor control required for handwriting is also important for doing up buttons, grasping a key and using a computer keyboard.
The use or overuse of technology and how it changes our brain function is a topic for another day.
Good seated posture for gross motor control
Shoulder and spinal strength and control is important for drawing larger lines across a page as well as providing the stability for finer movements. Your child’s workstation setup can impact your child’s posture at their desk.
Desk posture forms the basis of how your child will stabilise themselves to work and create. When a child is learning to draw, they start with a full fist grip around a thicker crayon and use full arm movements. Over time, as they develop core stability and fine motor coordination, they start to become more accurate with a three-finger grip around a pencil using predominantly their fingers, wrist and elbow movement to create drawings and handwriting.
If you are unsure whether your child has the appropriate desk set up, check out our desk selection checklist.
Fine motor control for details
In conjunction with central stability, having freely moving elbows, wrist and fingers are important for the finer details in drawing and writing. If a child has joint restrictions or tightness throughout their arm or lacks the required stability, it can hamper their handwriting ability.
My child complains of discomfort and fatigue with drawing and writing
Frequently discomfort in the shoulder, elbow and less frequently, hand are often due to muscle weakness and/or ineffective movement patterns. It requires more energy and concentration to use poor posture and inappropriate muscles.
What should I do about it?
If this rings true for your child, you may wish to explore it further with a thorough assessment. Sometimes the solution is simple: one or two paediatric chiropractic treatments to loosen up tight, restricted joints and muscles and some simple home exercises. At other times the solution is more involved and may involve a team approach such as with paediatricians and occupational therapists.
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Paediatric-Trained Chiropractor & Paediatric Sleep Coach
Dr Cassie is a paediatric-trained chiropractor, sleep coach and, most importantly, mumma to Master H. She loves seeing newborns grow into inquisitive toddlers and busy school kids. She assesses for neurological development (primitive reflexes), posture, sleep health and movement patterns. She's an eager learning just like the kids she sees.
"It's better to grow healthy children than fix injured adults."