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Have you ever seen one of those posts in homeschool Facebook groups where a mom uploads a picture of their child's writing and shares something to the effect of, “My kid has such bad handwriting. Does this look normal for a (insert age here)? I feel like a failure. My child can't print to save his life.”
Depending on the age of the child, it may actually be normal. But sometimes, the cause of the poor handwriting in dysgraphia, a writing-based learning disability that affects fine motor skills. Regardless, struggles and battles with writing can derail learning other academic structures and diminish your child's confidence.
So, I'm giving you permission to take the actual act of writing off the table for some of your child's schoolwork so they can experience some success.
You see, with the advancements in technology, there are now apps and devices that help your child show what they know without the added strain of focusing on handwriting. Using these tools isn't a cop-out and doesn't mean your child is never going to write. Introducing them to your child means you are committed to your child's success in their over-all education.
Consider adding these techie (and non-techie) resources to your child's “academic toolbox” to overcome the frustrations of bad handwriting.
Techie Tools for a Child with Bad Handwriting
This program is able to take any worksheet and turn it into an editable pdf. Simply snap a photo or scan and add it to the program and your child can then tap where they would like to fill in the answers, a text box opens and a keyboard appears so that your child can type in the answer. Completed work can be emailed or printed out.
This typing program is gold for some kids with bad handwriting. IT allows them to learn sentence writing, paragraphs, etc… without having to focus on neat writing at the same time. When a child has to focus on sentence structure, grammar, keeping their letters on the same line, spelling, and properly holding their pencil all at the same time, handwriting tends to get illegible. Either that or so much focus is on the writing that everything else is so overwhelming that they shut down and may not be able to complete the work.
With this app by the publishers of Handwriting Without Tears, children can practice writing with their finger onscreen and eventually graduate to a stylus. It is especially effective for younger learners to use learning to write their letters or simple words.
Speech-to-text apps like Dragon can be a lifesaver for students writing long papers. They can get their ideas and thoughts flowing without the added pressure of writing (or even typing). Even Google Docs has a speech-to-type option, although it's not as consistent as dedicated programs. which can really take a lot of pressure off of them.
Don't shy away from allowing your child to primarily use mobile apps. With so many educational apps available, he can demonstrate what he knows with clicks and swipes, not needing to write out everything. If your child's writing is horrendous and you wage the “bad handwriting” war, consider some of these techie (and no-techie) resources. To get a list of 100+ Educational Apps recommended by homeschool moms, CLICK HERE
Non-Techie Resources for Improving Handwriting
Here are a few analog resources to help your child develop better handwriting. It's important that children still practice writing as it will be needed the rest of their life for such simple tasks as making a grocery list but it may need to be limited to small sessions of writing.
This book has some solid techniques that give you specific strategies for helping your child succeed, especially is you suspect they have dysgraphia.
This workbook has tracing exercises similar to what an occupational therapist might use and is good for daily practice.
The weight on a pencil helps a child adjust the pressure and speed they use to write. It causes them to slow down and be more intentional about what they write.
Some children struggle with how to place their fingers properly on the pen or pencil as they overcompensate for the unnatural feel of writing. Grips can help train their fingers into the correct position.
Slant boards put the hand and wrist at a better position for handwriting which makes it a little easier. The angle also encourages better posture and reduces fatigue. They can be a bit pricey but are totally worth it. However, some parents use a 3”- 4” 3-ring binder as a slant board.
There are several different types of paper available that help children easily see or feel the lines to make writing within the appropriate spaces easier. One is paper that is highlighted, it takes away some of the struggles of remembering placement for lowercase and uppercase letters. The other is paper with raised lines, letting your child actually feel the spaces on a line. A multisensory approach is very helpful to a child struggling with printing and adds those additional clues to help their brains along.
Even with all these great resources, what your child needs most is understanding parents who recognize that bad handwriting is not the end of the world. Find ways to encourage your child and not focus on this weakness. Embrace all the technological advancements that help your child adapt and shine.
Tell me, what other resources have you used to help your child with bad handwriting? How'd it work out?
- Using Technology to Homeschool a Dyslexic Child
- Best Google Chrome Extensions to Help Students with Writing
- A Homeschool Mom Hack for Teaching Writing Skills
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