When a student writes and forms letters, he makes use of his graphomotor abilities. These special writing skills involve the coordination and control of the muscles at the end of his fingers. Some muscles are used to make a pencil move up and down, others to make the pencil move left and right, others to move it in a circular motion, etc. Since writing letters requires a combination of these movements, different muscles are used to form different letters.
Not surprisingly, when students write, some have trouble getting their muscles to move in the correct way. The student’s first steps in forming letters involve identifying the letter to be written, using memory to recall what that letter should look like, and making and holding a mental picture of the letter. The student then “sends” signals from his brain to the finger muscles required to move the pencil and to form the desired letter. Finally, the student forms the letter in the right place on the paper.
As students progress through school, they are expected to remember more and more information, and to remember it extremely quickly or automatically. This is especially true when students write. Writing requires students to remember several things simultaneously (forming letters and words, using correct grammar and punctuation, recalling the ideas they want to write, etc.). If a student has a hard time retrieving any of this information from long or short-term memory, the entire writing process will be more difficult. This chart describes some important skills related to handwriting
|Student copies easily from the board.
|Student has difficulty copying from the board or overhead.
|Student writes legibly and consistently forms letters.
|Student’s writing is not legible and letter formation is inconsistent
|Student writes letters quickly and easily.
|Student has difficulty writing letters quickly and easily.
|Student holds pen or pencil comfortably.
|Student has an awkward or uncomfortable grip.
|Student easily types on a computer.
|Student has difficulty learning how to type on the computer.