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Set Your Child Up for Success: Positioning for Writing

You probably have thought about proper posture for yourself right?  Like when you are sitting at your desk and you notice your shoulders are feeling tight, then you realize you have been slouched over your keyboard for too long?!   But posture is important for SO many activities that we do.  Posture for golf, or for surfing, or for skiing.  You want the proper body mechanics to propel your performance.  

Well, for our students, posture is JUST as important.  Proper positioning when in a classroom, or doing homework or even eating at the dining table is critical for providing their growing bodies with the support that it needs to allow for more refined movements (mobility).  

For example, we have all sat at a bar stool with no foot rest, right?  And you know that feeling when your feet are kicking and swinging to try to keep your body upright!  I bet you struggle to maintain an upright posture and end up slumping after only a minute or two.  This is a PERFECT example of what happens when desks and chairs do not fit the student.  A desk too tall for the student may have them reaching up for the paper recruiting shoulder muscles which inhibits their tiny hand muscles to work… or a chair that is too tall might leave their feet dangling and wiggly as they sllliiidddeee down the seat.

When seated at a desk, a student should be in a 90-90-90 position.  This means their hips should be bent at a 90 degree angle, their knees also at a 90 degree angle, and their feet resting on the ground at a 90 degree angle.  It can be helpful to have chairs with back support to help facilitate this.  Likewise, you can adapt tall chairs by providing a foot stool (or stack of books) under the feet to achieve the proper posture.  Their table should be at about waist high so that their elbows are also close to a 90 degree angle and their shoulders are not elevated.  Their forearm should rest comfortably on the desk providing support for their hand.  The fingers should be the primary mover when writing as most motions should be derived from the hand and finger muscles.

With all of that said, there are also excellent ALTERNATIVES to sitting at a desk that are both functional and ergonomic.  Lying on our tummies with our elbows propped under our shoulders can put our bodies in a great position for writing, drawing, or coloring.  Standing or kneeling with our paper taped to a wall can challenge our core, allow our body to move while we work, and provide a supportive position for encouraging proper wrist positioning with pencil to paper tasks.

We also must remember that our youngest learners may struggle the most with prolonged seated tasks due to their shortened attention spans and their underdeveloped core muscles. So alternative seating is an easy and appropriate tool to support them!

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking…

but my child has terrible posture or low muscle tone and can hardly sit?!  That’s where building up foundations (yep what we are ALWAYS talking about!) will help! 

Lots of strengthening activities such as monkey bars, climbing, crawling, pushing, pulling, lifting, anything that uses those BIG muscles in their body will help strength their tummy and shoulder muscles.  So when it comes to holding and moving a pencil with their smaller hand muscles, their body will have the strength, stability, and endurance for good posture.

Want to learn more about how we can help your child with their writing?  Reach out to for a FREE consultation.  And be sure to check out the rest of the blog for more ideas on how to help your student with ALL areas of literacy and academic skills.



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