Handwriting is the process of forming letters or symbols on paper. Both drawing and handwriting are complex motor tasks which rely on the integration of a myriad of underlying skills including: core strength, posture, hand strength, fine motor coordination, language and visual perception. Handwriting difficulties are traditionally one of the primary reasons children are referred for occupational therapy.
Despite the explosion of technology, writing legibly in a timely fashion is still critical in how children are judged as students. When writing is arduous and time consuming, children are not sufficiently motivated to produce what they are intellectually capable of, and may then be judged as not living up to their potential.
Although word-processing programs and assistive technology can make the lives of children with writing problems easier, they have not eliminated the need for children to learn to write by hand. Much class time in pre-school and the early grades is dedicated to writing “journals” and is part of other projects interspersed throughout the day not that are not amenable to using the computer. Additionally, handwriting in the early grades reinforces critical basic reading and spelling skills. Because handwriting is such a basic tool used in most subject areas — to take notes, do class work and homework, and take tests, poor handwriting can have a pervasive effect on school performance in children of all ages. Even children whose writing is “accomodated” in school still have to fill out job applications by hand when sitting in a waiting room, and have to handwrite the essay section of the SAT.