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disgraphia & a successful writing curriculum (or what to avoid)


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Please give me some ideas of what to research for writing programs.


My son has not been formally evaluated for Disgraphia, however, he does several of the things listed for Disgraphia.


His writing has not improved since he was 3.


He protests writing projects or any school work that involves writing.


He will be 7 in the fall, and I feel his writing needs to improve.


At this point he will write ON HIS OWN (not a lot) and it's all phonetic, somewhat left to right and somewhat top to bottom.


There are no spaces between words, often times there are spaces in the middle of words and a lot of the times half the word is on one line, half on the other line with maybe one or two letters even on a third line.


All the letters are different sizes ranging from very large to very small.


There are many other issues regarding his writing abilities.


I simply feel we must get more serious this coming fall and I'd like to start researching writing programs.


He knows all his letters, letter sounds, etc, so when I get 'preschool' level things, he protests because it's for babies. (even though that is the writing level he is at)


I wonder if we should skip printing and start with cursive, because my husband had many of these same issues as a child and he gave up on writing before cursive was introduced. As an adult he was curious and tried cursive. He was amazed at how much easier and how much more sense cursive made to him. Maybe this would be the case with my son?


I would love to hear your suggestions on writing programs that did or did not work for your child, if your child had struggles with writing.


Thank you

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You might want to pick up a copy of The Mislabeled Child by Brock & Fernette Eide. The Eides are physicians who have a referral practice evaluating children with complex learning issues, and they write & speak extensively on the brain & learning differences. This book explains the skills that need to be in place for learning, including handwriting, and the kinds of difficulties students can have. I found the book to be very user friendly.


What curriculum have you used to date for handwriting instruction? Has your son always been homeschooled or has he had classroom instruction in the past?


Many people use Handwriting Without Tears for their children who struggle with handwriting. It is also used by Occupational Therapists teaching handwriting to children with fine motor skills delays. I personally used the Getty-Dubay Italic system and liked it. One advantage of this Italic system is that there isn't a drastic difference in letter formation between manuscript & cursive forms. I also used the Startwrite software program to create my own handwriting practice sheets. This program includes fonts for the different styles of handwritten scripts.


At this time, it would be good to separate handwriting practice from creative writing/composition instruction. I taught the conventions of capitalization & punctuation by having my son do copywork. I had him trace a sentence I had printed on a Startwrite page, then he copied the same sentence on the same page. I also dictated the same sentences after he had copied them several times, but I had to greatly modify the pieces I used for dictation from those expected for his age level because the number of skills that have to be kept in mind at one time in order to write a sentence correctly overloaded his memory when he was younger.


For writing his own sentences & stories, he'll be better able to focus on the creative process by dictating his sentences to you. You write them down for him. He can illustrate the story if he likes to draw. You can also have him copy the sentences he created from the model you wrote as he was dictating.


In any case, do try to read The Mislabeled Child. Once you have read that, you might think about having his handwriting & fine motor skills evaluated by an OT. Especially if there are other strength and coordination challenges that contribute to the handwriting difficulty, the OT can help you with activities other than handwriting that will help him develop fine motor skills that may help him improve his handwriting skills.

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You should consider getting a complete neuro exam by a qualified tester, that deals with and likes children. Skip straight to cursive. Getty-Dubay is my favorite because it has no loops or weird flourishes. MIL is a reading specialist and cursive writing was her recommendation to me. Consider teaching typing now and make the process fun. Short, sweet lessons with rewards. Your child is probably miserable with the HW'ing. I know my son definitely was. Scribe for your child.


Here's an example sentence of the differences when I scribed and when DS wrote alone. Green...The grass is green. (DS would write something akin to this.)

The furry rabbit ran across the green, dewy lawn....(I kid you not. I actually told him once to reduce his sentence length because I was running out of writing space.)


If you are not comfortable with your child on the computer, consider purchasing a basic portable word processor like the AlphaSmart Neo. They are durable, cheap, and run forever on AA batteries. To print, walk it over to an HP all in one printer, connect it with a USB cable, and hit the print button. DS has used his 3 years, and you may purchase them used if cost is a factor.

Edited by Heathermomster
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