Help! My Child is Struggling with Handwriting!

Enrichment Therapies

June 8, 2023

Child sitting at a desk and practicing handwriting skills

By: Suzanne Schuchert, M.S., CCC-SLP

Are you concerned about your child’s handwriting? Enrichment Therapies can help! Our speech-language pathologists and learning specialists are educated on the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) program from Learning Without Tears. HWT strategies can be used during speech-language therapy or tutoring sessions. 

Why Is It Important to Work on Handwriting?

Students need to write quickly and automatically to be proficient writers. If they need to devote brain power and time to thinking about their letter formation during writing assignments, they lose some of the “cognitive resources” that allow them to plan and organize their writing. Furthermore, research shows that students with handwriting difficulties often have challenges with typing in the future. The working memory, attention, and motor planning skills that students learn while formulating written letters can also help them develop the skills they need to learn to type proficiently. 

How Old Do Students Have to Be to Work on Handwriting?

Students of all ages can benefit from the HWT program! Most HWT workbooks are geared toward pre-k through fifth graders. However, worksheets can be adapted for middle school and high school students. 

Keep in mind that many play activities are beneficial for later handwriting skills for children who are younger than pre-k. For example, drawing with chalk, using a magnetic fishing rod to catch fish, playing games that work on body awareness, and so much more help develop the skills that are necessary to become an automatic writer in the future. Simply playing games with children allows parents to begin developing pre-writing skills early on! 

What is Handwriting Without Tears?

HWT is a multi-sensory handwriting program that teaches groups of letters that follow the same formation sequence. For example, the “diver letter” group is comprised of lowercase b, p, m, n, r, and h. All of these letters start at the top of the letter. The child will “dive down” with their pencil before “swimming back up” to complete the rest of the letter. 

HWT encourages students to make their letters the same way each time, which helps reduce errors and letter reversals (e.g. writing a b instead of a d or 9 instead of a p).    

Wooden blocks allow students to understand how letter/number parts are combined to create the whole.

What If We Still Need More Support?

Some students with handwriting difficulties may need to be referred to an occupational therapist. For instance, poor grip strength, difficulties with posture, or reduced visual-motor integration could be impacting handwriting abilities. In these cases, an occupational therapist should be involved in handwriting intervention. 

Unlock Your Childs Potential With ETLC

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed. 

740 Community Drive, Unit A 

North Liberty, IA 52317 


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300 

Johnston, IA 50131 


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