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Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Learning & Behavioural Problems > Handwriting Difficulty

Handwriting Difficulty

About The Condition   Causes
Signs And Symptoms   Tips


What Is Handwriting Difficulty

Handwriting is a complex process that involves many smaller skill sets which ranges from sensory-motor to visual perceptual to cognitive domains. To become proficient at handwriting, the child must have all of these smaller skill sets. So if a child has a problem in learning any of these smaller skill sets, learning to write will be a slower and more difficult process for him or her as compared to his or her same-aged peers.


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Causes Of Handwriting Difficulty

The following are several common factors that can contribute to handwriting difficulties:

  • Poor postural control and muscle tone
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Poor bilateral integration (coordination of the left and right side of the brain and body)
  • Poor visual perception and visual motor integration (eye-hand coordination)
  • Poor visual functions or visual tracking (coordinated eye movements)
  • Poor cognitive ability


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Signs And Symptoms Of Handwriting Difficulty

  • Poor or awkward pencil grip
  • Poor posture when writing
  • Decreased or increased pressure on paper
  • Inconsistent hand dominance
  • Difficulty with letter formation
  • Difficulty with letter alignment
  • Difficulty with letter and word spacing
  • Letter reversals
  • Complaints of hand fatigue during writing
  • Slow and effortful writing
  • Untidy and illegible writing


Please note that some of the above signs are common in young children when they first start to write. You may wish to seek clarification from an occupational therapist if you are unsure.


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Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Handwriting Difficulty

Here are some fun activities you can engage your child to develop their postural control and fine motor skills as well as increase their interest in writing:

  • Provide your child with different drawing materials (e.g. markers, chalk, colour pencils, crayons, paint) and surfaces (e.g. paper, vertical whiteboard or chalkboard, painting easel) to scribble and draw on. This can start from as young as 18 months.
  • Have children form and trace shapes and letters using their fingers in different textured materials e.g. sand, play dough, shaving cream, paint, carpet, felt or flannel cloth.
  • Tracing mazes, dot-to-dots, colouring.
  • Play with blocks, beads, building bricks, pegs or any toys that involve manipulation of small parts.
  • Play dough – roll, knead, pinch, press with hands and fingers, hide objects for child to find.
  • Cutting and pasting art activities.
  • Playground equipment e.g. climbers, swings.
  • Pushing and pulling games e.g. tug of war.
  • Pretending to walk like animals with both arms and legs weight bearing on the ground.
  • Games involving spatial concepts e.g. copy block pattern, Simon Says.


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Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians specialising in developmental and behavioural paediatrics, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, learning support educators, nurses and social workers committed to providing holistic care for children with developmental, learning and behavioural difficulties.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics.


The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.