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Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)


Positioning and Readiness for Handwriting

Correct positioning is crucial to ensure all pupils optimise their ability to access the curriculum. If a pupil with limited sitting balance has to think about keeping themselves upright, their work will suffer. Without a secure base it is hard to initiate any movement, write, think or concentrate as mind and muscles are focussing on maintaining stability. Poor posture can have a serious impact on future back health and cause significant pain and even deformity.


Stability is a key issue alongside the ergonomic set up of a work station.

The majority of pupils will be most stable if as in the picture:

Line drawing of a person sitting at a desk
All angles at 90 degrees: hips, knees, ankles
Pupil: bottom back in chair, sitting square to the table their work and the focus of the lesson
Chair: right height, right seat depth, well tucked in
Feet: flat on floor or a footrest
When using a computer or laptop the top third of the screen should be at eye level
Work and Lesson Focus: presented directly in front of pupil
Table Height: roughly in line with the tummy button/just above elbow height


It is important to discuss optimum positioning with the pupil’s therapist to make sure any of their recommendations, such as symmetry, using both hands, not twisting / leaning are implemented.

Parts of the forearm; wrist and heel of the hand should rest on the work surface giving stability. The non-writing hand should be used to steady the work. A sloping surface – e.g. a writing slope, folder or a clipboard resting on a book or pencil case can help with posture and hand position, it also may encourage extension of the wrist and lessen stress on the forearm.

The paper should be placed to the same side of the body as the writing hand and lined up with the forearm of the writing hand with a tripod grip (thumb and fingers 1 & 2) encouraged.

The key thing to look out for is that the hand can move to write a word or two whilst keeping the wrist steady on the paper rather than having to adjust position for every letter.

Children must be able to independently form all of these pre-writing shapes before they are ready for formal handwriting. If they cannot do this – they are not ready.

Shapes and lines - precursor to forming written letters