8 Strategies to Beat Dysgraphia


Homeschooling the Child with Dysgraphia

8 Strategies to Homeschool A Child with Dysgraphia

 

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting. The hallmarks of

dysgraphia include the inability to properly space letters, not recognizing the difference

between lower and upper case letters, gripping the pencil so hard that the person creates

holes in the paper, having trouble expressing thoughts in writing, and actual pain when writing.

Homeschooling the Child with Dysgraphia

 

While I am not a doctor or an occupational therapist, I am the mother of three children who

live with dysgraphia. When my oldest child was diagnosed at the age of 8 we decided to

take matters into our own hands, to help her develop the skills necessary to survive in

spite of the condition. In the 12 years since her diagnosis she has worked hard and has

managed to overcome the hurdles caused by dysgraphia. I am now teaching two more children with

dsygraphia and using the same techniques.

 

Whether your child has been officially diagnosed or you just suspect dysgraphia, there

are many things you can do at home to improve your child’s writing and help alleviate

their pain.

 

Homeschooling Your Child with Dysgraphia

1. Change the paper. Something in the brain of the person with dysgraphia causes

them to not be able to understand the spacing between letters, words, and sentences. To

help your child visualize the space, and to minimize frustration, switch your child’s lined

paper out for graph paper or turn the lined paper sideways, with each letter getting its own

block/space and leaving an empty block/space between words.

 

2. Change the writing instrument. Dysgraphia affects fine motor control and gripping a

pencil lightly isn’t natural. Encourage your child to write as if they were holding a feather,

or take it a step further and give them a quill and ink. Feathers are delicate and children

tend to handle them much more gently than they do a solid object like a pencil. If a quill isn’t

possible try taking the plastic casing off an ink pen (this can get messy!) Chalk is another great idea, it’ll

crumble if they press too hard.

 

When it comes to writing surfaces, go BIG! The bigger, the better! You can use an easel or

a large white board, but we use sliding glass doors as they are huge and the glass surface

naturally encourages my children to write much softer than they do on other surfaces, and

it’s easily washed.

 

Homeschooling the Child with Dysgraphia

 

3. Teach your child to type. Typing and basic word processing skills are important for

almost everyone, but they are a must for the person with dysgraphia. My daughter would

cry because her thoughts were stuck in her head, once we allowed her free access to a

word processing program she blossomed, her entire demeanor changed for the better.

My child taught herself to type in her own style but we took her to a local computer store

for lessons on how to use our word processing software. This isn’t to say you should give

up handwriting altogether, but typing allows your child to express themselves more easily

and increases their chance of finding (and keeping) a job.

 

4. Gross motor skill exercises to strengthen the arm and hand. Some ideas are to have

your child “write” letters in the air using their entire arm, or have them form letters in sand

or shaving foam. Sports like baseball and tennis can strengthen your child’s writing arm,

even just throwing a ball around will help.

 

5. Fine motor control exercises to strengthen the fingers and wrist. Puzzles, jewelry

making, and beadwork crafts are excellent choices for fine motor control exercises.

Squeezing a tennis ball and cutting paper are great exercises, too.

 

6. Skip straight to cursive. People with dysgraphia often say “draw my letters” instead of

“write my letters”, and many are capable of drawing without the same issues they face

when writing. Many children with dysgraphia are able to learn cursive writing with much

less problem than printing. Cursive flows more naturally and spacing isn’t quite as much

of an issue, and it’s just processed better by some brains.

 

Homeschooling the Child with Dysgraphia

 

7. Develop narration skills. Dysgraphia causes some people to experience a block

between thinking something and writing it. Narration is an excellent tool for helping your

child record their thoughts, so when it’s time to write them down they have a handy list.

Your child can start by dictating to you and transition to using an audio recorder or text­-to-

speech program.

 

8. Work together to change your writing goals. I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always

preferred paper and pen over the computer because it’s more convenient. Imagine my

surprise when my child, who is so much like me in so many ways, spent day after day

sitting in front of a piece of paper crying. Over the years our goals have changed;

whereas we once had the goal of writing research paper rough drafts by hand, we now

have the goal of being able to write short, informative notes while concentrating on typing

and oratory skills.

Dysgraphia is a brain condition. Your child can learn how to reprogram their brain but it takes time and effort! Your child may become discouraged after a few months with only slight improvement. Remind them that this will take time and that progress is often slow with dysgraphia, but it will come with time and physical maturity.

 

Dysgraphia doesn’t have to hold your child back. With some minor accommodation

and hard work your child can develop strategies to overcome and beat

dysgraphia!

 

 

Homeschooling the Child with Dysgraphia


Leave a Reply

2 thoughts on “8 Strategies to Beat Dysgraphia