Updated: Feb 27
Original Post is in The Flint Journal
Dear Kori: My daughter is in the second grade. She struggles with handwriting. She hates to write more than a few words at any time. I would appreciate any suggestions you have to help her.
Dear N.D.: Learning to write is a challenge. Your daughter needs plenty of practice and praise for her hard work. You can make writing easier by keeping materials handy -- paper, pencils, erasers, note pads, chalkboards, dry-erase boards, pens, colored pencils, markers, paint, crayons, dictionary, thesaurus, computer, electronic spell checkers, etc. Let your child know that you value writing by writing to and with each other in practical ways, such as writing a note; making a to-do list; composing letters, thank you notes and invitations; or playing a game of "hangman."
You might consider creating a "graffiti wall" where family members can express their thoughts. You can create such a wall by painting it with special washable paint or by hanging a dry-erase board or large sheets of paper on a wall.
Children love to tell stories and sing songs. Help your daughter write down the words to her favorite song or story. Or make up new songs and stories together.
Your daughter also should participate in activities that develop fine motor skills, such as playing with modeling clay, stringing beads, squeezing a rubber ball and other hand-strengthening exercises. Some poor handwriting skills can be improved through the development of fine motor skills.
Furthermore, some children complain of hand fatigue. Learning and utilizing hand exercise can help prevent and relieve hand fatigue.
Discuss your concerns with your child's teacher, principal, a special education teacher or the staff at a teacher supply store. Perhaps they can recommend different writing programs you can use at home. Publishing companies teach different styles of handwriting, and maybe a different style or approach to teaching handwriting may help your daughter.
In terms of helping your daughter with schoolwork, consider the following suggestions: 1. Do not do your child's assignments; the only way she will learn is to do the work, even when it is hard and the results are less than perfect. 2. Talk about the assignments before she attempts them; this way, you act as a sounding board for your child's ideas without making the decisions or giving your daughter the correct answers. 3. Work with your daughter's teachers to create an accommodation plan that addresses how assignments will be completed and graded and what skills are to be taught to and utilized by your daughter. Assignment accommodation might include:
• Dividing the task into smaller units and performing each subtask independently.
• Decreasing the quantity of assignment (that is, fewer math problems or writing fewer sentences).
• Increasing the time allowed to complete a written assignment.
• Allowing for misspelling on in-class assignments.
One structural accommodation to consider is reducing or eliminating copying demands such as copying from the board or book.
The use of graph paper to provide structure for math problems is another useful option.
Other accommodations may include allowing the child a choice between using manuscript or cursive writing.
Technology accommodations may focus on teaching keyboarding and computer skills; utilizing speech recognition programs combined with word processing; and teaching her to use a tape recorder to capture and review her ideas and then focus on the mechanics of her handwriting.
In terms of generating ideas, your daughter should be taught how to use a graphic organizer. When your daughter is ready to edit her writing, she should proofread her papers after some time has passed to prevent her from reading what she intended rather that what was actually written, and have her use a checklist or rubric to check for errors and content.
As your daughter builds confidence and writing becomes automatic, her writing skills will improve.
Kori E. Carson Dean, Ed.S., has more than 25 years' experience as an educator, principal, special education administrator, educational and behavioral management consultant and parent advocate. Contact her or send her a question by e-mail or write to her at 5103 West Pierson Rd Ste. 3 Flint, MI 48504.