Even in 2013, writing by hand remains an indispensable life skill.  In academic areas such as note taking and sitting exams, and in other areas of daily life, our children must put pen to paper and write.   Significant difficulties with this skill can make a real and lasting negative impact on a child’s academic performance   Further, the underlying causes of handwriting difficulties can have implications for other areas of children’s lives.  The same fine motor difficulties that make it hard for some children to use a pencil may make it equally hard to zip up their jackets or brush their teeth.

Good handwriting depends on the fluid coordination of many underlying components.  At the Essential Learning Group, we complete a highly detailed assessment of each child to identify potential problem areas. These areas range from pen grip to motor development and general body mechanics.  In some cases, poor handwriting is attributable to cognitive difficulties, and sometimes to a delay in the integration of sensory information (e.g. touch, vision).  The comprehensive plans we assemble for intervention vary as widely as the children who come in to be assessed.  .

Many parents are surprised by our methods.  In most cases the best methods for improving handwriting entail a great deal more than sitting at a desk and practicing letter formation. Our clients will bat balloons in the air, do eye exercises or yoga or any of a number of other activities designed to develop core stability, concentration, eye-hand coordination and gross and fine motor skills.  We almost always include a homework component in our plans.

Watch for some warning indicators:

  • difficulty writing neatly
  • complains of hand cramps or other discomfort while writing
  • is generally clumsy, only so-so in sports and other physical activities
  • teachers report these or other related problems


Things to try at home:

  • Write sitting upright, on a flat surface
  • Use short notes for simple household communication
  • Emphasize crafts, building toys and other activities that require small finger movements


The Essential Learning Group offers OT/PT on an individual basis to address handwriting difficulties and on a group basis though a program called “Fun with Handwriting.”  Both programs are available in Puxi and Pudong.


Peter Drzymala

Peter Drzymala

Occupational Therapist

Peter is originally from Canada, and uses his knowledge and experience to implement programs focusing on handwriting development and using yoga with children who experience difficulties processing sensory information.

Regina Nicolas

Regina Nicolas

Physical Therapist, Sensory Integration Specialist

Regina joined The Essential Learning Group in 2009 and is originally from the Phillipines. She applies her background in physical therapy and sensory integration along with her motivating and caring personality to help children thrive academically and improve behavior.