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.
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
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.
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.
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-
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