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Fun Summer Activities To Improve Your Child's Handwriting

What you can do as a family to improve handwriting skills

The school bell has rung for the last time of the 2016-2017 school year! Are you finding yourself wondering what to do to make sure your child will have the same quality of handwriting when he/she returns to school? Or better yet, have you thought about what you can do to improve your child’s handwriting? Handwriting can be a challenge anytime of the year and finding ways to practice during the summer can take a little bit of creativity.

You may not have really ever sat down to think about it, but good handwriting requires many things working together at the same time. Each of these things play an important role in the quality of handwriting your child puts on paper: strength of hands, arms, and core, bilateral coordination (both hands working together), visual perception (how your brain interprets what you see), visual motor (eye-hand) coordination, and fine motor precision (how fine-tuned fingers move together).

Here are some summer activities that DON’T involve pencil and paper that you can do as a family to improve or maintain your child’s handwriting skills:

  • Go to the park and use the monkey bars and climbing walls -increases hand, arm, and core strength.
  • Paint the side of the house with a bucket of water and a paint brush – increases strength of hands, arms, core and bilateral coordination and visual motor coordination.
  • Water play with squirt bottles or water guns using index and middle fingers to squeeze handle – strengthens hands and fine motor precision.
  • Soak a sponge full of water and then wring it out in another bucket or an older child could help wash the car – strengthens hands and bilateral coordination.
  • Use side walk chalk on the driveway to make pictures, shapes, and/or letters – fine motor precision and feedback to where your hand is in space.
  • Pop bubbles with one finger or two hands together– increases fine motor precision and bilateral coordination.
  • Play the game “Hot Potato” with a balloon filled with air. See how long you can pass the balloon back and forth without the it falling on the ground. Add more balloons when one balloon is too easy. – Improves visual motor coordination.
  • Create with playdough – Increases strength of fingers and fine motor precision.
  • Swim freestyle, back stroke, breast stroke or butterfly (with adult supervision, of course!)– increases core, arm, and hand strength, and bilateral coordination.
  • Water play in the shallow end with splash balls or a beach ball (again, with adult supervision) - increases visual motor coordination, strength, and fine motor precision.
  • Go fishing at a lake, pond, create a pond using a tub, or Bass Pro Shop has a free fishing event Saturday mornings (check your local store): increases bilateral coordination, core strength and visual motor coordination
  • Take Karate lessons– increases core and arm strength and bilateral coordination.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument – increases visual motor coordination, bilateral coordination, and fine motor precision.
  • Woodworking or gardening with an adult either at home or workshops for kids. Some Home Depots offer free workshops for kids on the first Saturday of the month (check your local store)– increases strength, visual motor coordination, bilateral coordination and fine motor precision.

Take advantage of the good summer weather and let your child learn while enjoying the outside!

About the Author

Marybeth Oliva is an occupational therapist at Cook Children's. Occupational therapy focuses on fine motor and functional skills to enhance development, restore function and to prevent disablility from pediatric conditions, illness and injury. At Cook Children's, we understand that no two children are alike. That's why we offer four types of therapy plans, tailored specifically for your child and his or her needs. We want to make every appointment unique for each family. 

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