Fine motor skills involve the small muscles which enable us to write, pick up small objects, and fasten our clothing. These skills are very important for handwriting, and require strength, dexterity and control (Logsdon, 2010). Handwriting difficulties may have a negative impact on students learning because they may be focusing too much on the mechanics of writing, and not giving proper attention to the content.

Common Characteristics of Students with handwriting/fine motor skill difficulties
Student may have:

  • · Illegible handwriting
  • · Poor letter formation
  • · Uneven letter size
  • · Uneven spacing
  • · Difficulty keeping letters on the line
  • · A mixed slant of letters
  • · Slow or labored writing speed
  • · Difficulty with buttons or snaps (Gisler Ed.S. & Eberts Ed.S., 2009)
  • · A weak pencil grip
  • · Trouble working with manipulatives such as string beads or putting small lego pieces together (Handwriting help for kids, 2010)

Classroom Accommodations/Modifications/Suggestions

  • · Allow students to do handwriting assignments on the computer
  • · Allow more time for written tasks such as note-taking, copying and tests
  • · Allow students to begin handwriting projects earlier than their classmates
  • · Have student prepare the headings for their assignments ahead of time (name, date, subject, etc.)
  • · Provide advanced organizers for class notes
  • · Grade only on content (not spelling or neatness of work)
  • · Do not require student to write in complete sentences on tests
  • · Allow students to use paper with raised lines to help keep writing on the lines
  • · Allow students to use different colored pencils and pens for handwriting assignments (Jones, 1998)
  • · Reduce the length of handwriting assignments

Suggestions for improving fine motor skills:

  • · tearing paper or cutting with scissors
  • · playing with play dough or putty
  • · stringing small beads to make necklaces
  • · playing with lacing cards (lacing shoelaces through picture cards)
  • · practice tying shoelaces
  • · hide pennies, beans or other small objects in putty and have child try to find them
  • · pick up small objects with tweezers (Handwriting help for kids, 2010)
  • · typing on a computer
  • · copying
  • · Provide many opportunities for handwriting practice, drawing and coloring
  • · Play games with children that require handling of cards and small game pieces
  • · Have children sort coins into stacks of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters (Gisler Ed.S. & Eberts Ed.S., 2009)

*Gisler Ed.S., P., & Eberts Ed.S., M. (2009). Poor fine-motor skills. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from family

*Handwriting help for kids. (2010). Occupational therapy recommendations. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from Handwriting help for kids:

Jones, M. S. (1998, December). Accommodations and modifications for students with handwriting problems and/or dysgraphia. Retrieved March 22, 2010, from Resource room:

Logsdon, A. (2010). Fine motor skills - learn about fine motor skills and how to improve them. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from learning disabilities:

*provides many resources, tools and ideas for parents