Dysgraphia is a complex learning difficulty that like many others is different for all children who suffer from it. Some children see far more severe symptoms and become overwhelmed and exhausted after writing while others will considerably improve with lots of writing practice. There are many strategies for dysgraphia to minimise your child’s frustration and improve their symptoms. For an in-depth view into dysgraphia and which apps/resources will help, click here.
See below for the top 10 strategies for dysgraphia ad start your child on their journey to overcoming this learning difficulty today.
1. Slant boards, raised paper and highlighted paper
As I mentioned in my previous blog, slant boards help create a better posture and hand alignment. Your child will find it easier to write this way as it also improves the stability of the paper and helps when it comes to visual tracking. Highlighted and raised paper both help with alignment issues.
Offer smaller writing lines for your child. It may come as a surprise, but sometimes you might find that your children’s writing becomes more legible the smaller the writing. It’s very common to practice writing large, spaced-out letters, but smaller cursive writing is sometimes easier, neater and easier to read.
SnapType has been developed by an Occupational Therapist to reduce the amount of writing and the stress that often accompanies writing. This app makes a huge difference when it comes to homework. It’s as simple as taking a snapshot of their work with an iPad, opening the photo in the app and entering the answers. It is especially helpful for those children who’s writing may get worse the more they are required to write.
Dysgraphia is not going to go away and while some children may improve with consistent writing practice, some may not. Reducing the amount of writing through the use of assistive technology will take off a lot of the pressure.
3. Pencil Add Ons
There are many pencil grips and accessories to choose from, you are bound to find one that suits your child. However, it may be worth testing some out first to see which works best as the market is overrun with writing tools. There are pencil weights to encourage the slowing down of writing, grips to ensure pens and pencils are being held correctly, left handed pencils, thicker pencils and ergonomic pens and pencils. Sometimes a thicker pen or a pencil with a rubber grip will help enormously.
4. Change the way they write
Sometimes just the act of writing on paper with a pen/pencil puts strain on children with dysgraphia. Putting thoughts onto paper is often the most difficult task. Breaking up the cycle can help. Let your child write on another surface at home such as a blackboard, dry erase board, tracing out letters in a salt tray, writing on a large sheet of paper in thick markers or encourage them to learn how to touch type.
5. Typing and audio
For many children, typing gives them the time and ability to work on other aspects of writing such as sentence structure, paragraphs, grammar, and spelling without the stress of also worrying about neatness. Find a great typing program such as Touch-type, Read and Spell (TTRS) for your child to develop their touch typing skills.
Another option is to make audio-recordings. Writing is a cognitively difficult task and even copying text from a board is hard for someone who struggles with dysgraphia. Recording certain discussions or lessons where notes have to be taken is a great way to ensure your child doesn’t miss anything. Speech-to-text is another great tool that should be used.
6. Try Cursive
Many children with dysgraphia find cursive much easier than print. The constant flow of the connecting letters offers a steady movement that is easier to control. There is also fewer issues with letter spacing and it seems to put less stress on the hand.
7. Strengthen fine motor skills
Fun activities such as playing with Lego, clay, playdough, puzzles, gluing, cutting, shape sorting and playing the piano will all help to improve fine motor strength. This improvement will help with all aspects of writing. Use one of these activities like a reward and also just for fun and incorporate at least one activity into their daily life. They won’t even realise they’re building up strength in their hands – making it one of the easier strategies for dysgraphia to put into place. For five fun activities for dysgraphia, click here.
8. Stretch out your hands
Before your child begins writing or typing, it’s a good idea for them to shake their hands out, rotating the wrists and wiggling fingers. A stress ball is also a great option. Pressing putty, dough or something similar is another good way to get the blood flowing and prepare the muscles.
9. Brainstorm ideas before writing
Brainstorming is one of the best strategies for dysgraphia and the perfect way to prepare your child for the writing task ahead of them. Through the act of brainstorming, they are processing the information that needs to be written, making it easier to think conceptually while having to write. Composition is impacted at sentence level for children with dysgraphia and this means that it is extremely difficult to organise thoughts onto paper. A mind map/brainstorming session will alleviate this issue.
Getting plenty of exercise for the whole body significantly improves fine and gross motor development, posture, and overall muscle tone – all of these aspects will improve their writing and their muscular strength.
And finally…. Have you ever thought of taking all the stress out of writing and playing a game instead? Simply take your favourite family game and give it a written twist, immediately transforming it. For an idea of which games for dysgraphia are the best, click here.