Suitable pencils as well as the following criteria will have a positive impact on children’s handwriting skills:
1. A good sitting position is very important in handwriting as it assists good flow when writing. The child’s feet should touch the floor. For this purpose, the height of the furniture has to be adjusted accordingly or a footstool needs to be placed underneath the feet. Sitting in an upright position in front of the desk ensures an optimum distance between the desk surface (hand) and the eye; this way, motor handwriting skills can be monitored and controlled; any other sitting position impairs handwriting proficiency.
2. The forearm and the side of the hand should be placed on the desk pad while writing. This enables the shoulder, the arm and the wrist to relax without forcing the muscles to perform strenuous additional holding tasks.
3. For right-handers, exercise books and worksheets should be placed at a slant (15-degree angle) to the left, while left-handers should position them at an angle of ca. 30 degrees to the right. When sitting right in front of the table, this position corresponds to the respective movement of the forearm, allowing both left-and right-handers to monitor and control the writing process, since the hand rests below the writing line. This position is of particular importance to left-handers, as they often develop a ‘hooked’ hand position which gives rise to cramps and makes them overstretch their hand and fingers.
4. Lined paper supports the development of handwriting skills. Since schools put more emphasis on letter shape than sequence of movements, it actually makes sense to offer children paper with broader lines. In this context, ruled papers whose lines are marked in different colours in the left margin are particularly suitable, as they highlight the difference between upper and lower case letters.
Left-handed writers are recommended to add the above colour marks in the right margin, since their left hand would otherwise completely cover the support colours in the left margin and render them useless.
5. The light must come in from a direction which ensures that the child will not be working in the shadow of their hand which would impair writing and/or visuomotor skills.