In our previous post “Difficulties with Writing Could be a Vision Problem – Part 1,” we illustrated a number of different ways you can spot a visual problem in the physical handwriting of a student. In this post, we’ll deal with how to use visual skills to improve physical handwriting, as well as some corrective tips for bad habits.Teach the kids to “look ahead.” You always want to look ahead of where your pen or pencil is on the paper. Teach children to look ahead to where they want the pencil to go. Children who only focus on the tip of the pen or pencil tend to be aware of only a very small area of the page around the pencil. This makes writing very difficult. Young children just learning to write should look at the starting point to place the pencil on the page and then look at the place they need to end the stroke before starting to make the stroke. Older children and adults should be looking farther ahead.
Use peripheral vision. We point our eyes at the place we want to start to position the pencil and then look a bit ahead to where we want to go for neat writing, but use peripheral vision for orientation on the page, spacing and writing straight. The top, bottom and sides of the page should be utilized as guides while writing. For some kids and adults, just making them aware of using peripheral vision will help them improve very quickly with a bit of practice. People having difficulty using their peripheral vision well may need help building that visual skill before they can use it for writing.
Use a slant board. Any child, with or without vision problems, can benefit from using a slant board. It tends to reduce eye-strain and makes it easier to make the letters correctly, as the letters are not distorted because they’re at an angle. (This is why draftsmen, engineers and artists use a drafting board.)
Hold your pencil correctly. We seem to be pushing kids to write earlier and earlier, even when they’re physically incapable of holding a pencil in the correct manner. That often ends up creating poor habits for how a child holds a pencil. Many times children continue to use the poor finger positioning even when they get older. Holding the pencil correctly allows for best freedom of movement of your fingers, and for best fine motor control. In addition, your student or child should hold a pencil far enough from the tip so the writer can easily see the tip without having to distort posture.
Have the paper positioned at a slight angle. Positioning the paper correctly allows for good posture, and using a correct working distance minimizes visual stress for near work. It also allows you to see the whole line you have written and where you are going for best spacing on the page.
If a child continues to have difficulties with writing, this could be an indication of a vision problem. At that point, you should consider a Functional Vision Test to determine if the poor handwriting is indicative of a larger, yet correctable, issue.
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