When writing is so difficult for your child that he does poorly in most of his classes, a school psychologist or his teacher may determine that he has dysgraphia. Despite this learning disability, with the right dysgraphia treatment and accommodations, your child can excel, even succeed, in school.
You and his teacher will want to consider some of the following strategies for your child so she can start improving in school.
1. Using a Computer. Children with dysgraphia should be encouraged to learn keyboarding and word processing on a computer. In addition to the physical relief from handwriting, word processing programs provide other conveniences such as spelling and grammar functions, which free them from some of the mechanical aspects of writing. This “dysgraphia treatment” works particularly well with older children. If you don’t have a computer at home for homework and projects, ask if your child’s school has loaner laptop computers.
2. Writing Assistant or Scribe: Arrangements need to be made so that when required to do a lengthy writing assignment, the child can dictate what she wants to write to an adult. The adult then writes or types the words of your child. You can also ask the school to provide a scribe for test situations that require essay answers. This helps your child get her thoughts on paper without having to struggle with the mechanics of writing.
3. Spacing: When your child writes something freehand, help him to space his words properly by placing his finger between words and using the tip of his thumb to the knuckle for paragraph indenting. Lined paper with spaces between the lines also helps. You’ll find this specialty paper at stores that carry school supplies, and at teacher stores.
Look for it on-line.
4. Lining Up Numbers: Children with dysgraphia have a tough time keeping columns of numbers lined up when doing “pencil and paper” arithmetic. Try lined paper turned sideways. The vertical spaces between the lines provide column guides that can help keep everything lined up.
5. Extra Time and Reduction of Written Work: You can request extra time and a reduction of written work for your child. This may include suspending the requirement of rephrasing questions and using complete sentences when answering homework questions. For example, if the homework question is: “What was the reaction of the British when the colonists presented the Declaration of Independence?” your child can simply write “The British declared war on the colonists.” He doesn’t have to rewrite the question as part of the answer.
6. Isolation of Spelling in Grading: Since spelling is often an issue for children with dysgraphia, spelling may not be counted as part of the evaluation of routine assignments, except, obviously for spelling tests. If spelling needs to be graded, it should be graded separately. Now your child’s writing style and ideas are not downgraded because of spelling errors.
7. Photocopies of Notes: Arrange for photocopying of class notes and the next day’s homework assignments. These can be from teacher’s notes or from those of a willing student who takes good notes. In classrooms with interactive whiteboard technology, the teacher’s notes may be available on-line.
Just two or three of these tips should help your child succeed in school with a lot less stress.
Does your child struggle with writing. Let us know about it. We appreciate your comments.
To get fun activities that help kids with writing, pick up a free copy of my Dysgraphia Toolkit: How Singing, Playing Games and Other Fun Activities Can Help Defeat Writing Disabilities.