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Take A Seat – How Your Chair Affects Handwriting

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For any skill in child development to be supported, it needs to be supported from the bottom up. All skills need a good foundation and handwriting is no exception.

Like most skills, all is not what it seems, and a lot more is involved than you may think.

The eyes need to work with the hands to coordinate movements with the arms. The arms obviously connect with the shoulders to coordinate movements with the trunk.

Not only is nearly the whole upper body involved in a physical/motor sense, but these movements are also impacted by visual and sensory skills that fine-tune each of the motor movements. In order to give a child the best possible chance to improve their handwriting, we need to ensure that each of these components are being supported.

Speaking of support: now what does the trunk connect to? That’s right – our bottoms! Having a good stable base is essential to helping the rest of our upper body do what it needs to do. So let’s look at some seating tips to help support handwriting:

1. Chair Size:

The child’s feet need to be flat on the floor, resting easily at a 90 degree angle to their ankles. This then puts the knees in a nice 90 degree angle, supporting good posture.

2. Hip angle:

Hips should also be at a comfortable 90 degree angle, with the child being able to sit back into the chair.

3. Knees:

The back of the knees should not be more than approx. one inch from the end of the

4. Tops of the legs:

Should not touch the bottom of the desk.

5. Adjust the desk, not the chair:

Once the chair is right, it is usually easier to adjust the desk around this, rather than change the chair again.

Quick fixes to adjust heights:

  • Use a small book or stool under their feet if feet do not touch the ground.
  • If the chair is too low, put a book or cushion under the child’s bottom to raise him up.
  • Books under the legs of the desk can raise it up.

Written by Aimee York, OT, director of KinderCloud online allied health services for children. KinderCloud provides OT, Dietetics and Counselling for children and families via Skype.  Feel free to browse our website www.kindercloud.com.au, email us on info@kindercloud.com.au, or call direct on 0409 279 728.

About Aimee York

Aimee is a paediatric occupational therapist, who is passionate about working with children and their families to support successful development. She often is caught telling people she has the best job in the world.Aimee works regularly with children with emotional regulation and behavioural challenges, as well as Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. However, she likes to emphasise that children do not need a 'diagnosis' in order to require a bit of support, help and education to get them back on track.Aimee is the owner and principal occupational therapist at KinderCloud Online Allied Health for Children .

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