Handwriting milestones for 5-6 year olds

Handwriting is a skill that most adults take for granted. However, the majority of children will not be ready to begin learning to write until about six years of age, though there are some children who will be able to write even before they start school.

Your child at this age will be moving on from a palmer grasp to an uncomplete tripod grasp.

Fine motor skills at age 5 include:
  • Folding paper diagonally
  • Writing their first and last name
  • Writing the alphabet in full
  • Drawing objects and being able to string beads onto a string

Fine motor skills at age 6 also include:
  • Tying knots and bows
  • Copying letters and numbers and being able to print their name. Children will have better control in writing letter forms. Children who also use both hands should be encouraged to select just one hand to write with. 
  • Your child at this age, will learn that one hand should be used to stabilise and the other is the helping hand.
Activities and play that help handwriting:
Your child should be using the intrinsic muscles of the hand to form a pyramid with their fingers or spread their fingers apart to make a duck bill. Using fingers to make shadow puppets is also a wonderful exercise in improving dexterity.

Children will also enjoy drawing and labelling objects.
Children will also learn the difference between lower case and upper case letters.
Your child will develop fine motor skills at their own pace. Rushing a complex activity such as handwriting is not advisable.

Activities to develop handwriting skills

Bubble Wrap: Children love playing with bubble wrap and popping the plastic bubbles between their thumb and index finger actually helps to strengthen fingers helping to build a more controlled tripod grasp.

Clothes pegs: Get your little one to help hang the washing on the line as it improves movements and strength.

Water pistols: Kids love squirting water from a water pistol but it’s not just fun, pulling the trigger will help develop a strong index finger which again supports the tripod grip.

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