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Remediating handwriting issues in older kids

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  • TheAttachedMama
    started a topic Remediating handwriting issues in older kids

    Remediating handwriting issues in older kids

    Hi Everyone,

    I have a question about my rising 7th-grade son. His handwriting has slowly deteriorated over the years, and now I think it would be VERY hard for a stranger to read.

    I have always used the copybooks that come with the core (since 4M), but his handwriting keeps getting worse and worse. MOST of the time he can translate what he has written to others, but sometimes he struggles to read his own writing. I think the problem has two primary causes: On one hand, he doesn't really care much about what his handwriting looks like, and he also might have some fine motor delays.
    (When he was a younger kid, he had a lot of fine motor delays. He has in occupational therapy for a number of years and slowly got to the low end of "typical". So maybe I need to take him back into an occupational therapist?)

    In the meantime, should we stop and devote some time on his penmanship? (It is getting harder to work on things like this as he gets older because his schedule becomes know?) Or do I just assume he might not have "beautiful" penmanship? If I do work on things, can anyone recommend any resources?

  • cherylswope
    Hi, Cathy.

    It seems you might want a three-pronged approach:

    1. OT
    If you have time to revisit OT, this might be helpful. We found that after a given age (possibly 18 or 21), such services for developmental issues may never again be available. Just choose wisely. I found that after 12 or 13, my son responded much better to some OTs than to others. Some OTs will focus more on penmanship, if you ask. An OT could evaluate hand strength or other possibly contributing factors and give him a squeeze ball or easy exercises to do.

    2. Evaluate handwriting
    Check his daily handwriting. Use the checklist you used early in MP -- pencil grip, posture, spacing, etc. Allow him to type some of his writing assignments, if you would like, but when he does write, use a rubric for legibility. Give him the same rubric, so he can pre-check his writing and correct errors before he gives it to you. Not only will you draw attention to areas needing improvement, but you will also mark his most legible writing with a star or other means of highlighting so he can see where his writing is GOOD.

    3. Teach penmanship
    You might not need to stop teaching everything else, but it would be good to review the p's and s's from MP if nothing else. As he works, have him write a row or two and turn in for checking (#2) if you can. Consider daily mini-lessons from MP's Teach Yourself Cursive, as this can allow a little bit more for an older student's own "style," and he might appreciate that. Short and daily, as with anything requiring muscle memory, is better than infrequent but extended lesson periods.

    Just adding the above to enbateau's good comments --

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  • enbateau
    I had horrible handwriting for a long time. One day, at the end of 7th grade, out of sheer envy, I decided I wanted to get better by copying beautiful handwriting all summer. Once the pressure from assignments is off, some kids feel free to luxuriate. For some kids, just remembering what you wanted to say or how you wanted to say it forces a hurried script. I believe that is why those with ADD/ADHD often struggle with handwriting. Sometimes jotting keywords (it looks like he already does IEW) can allow a child to do this. Look into the OT, but also look into an impetus, something or someone who makes him want to write nicely. There was a cool artsy documentary on PBS about this very manly guy who does calligraphy, carving his own writing nibs and fountain pens. He found joy in making art for other people. Perhaps a sell on good or legible handwriting will give him the push. If he already wants to and can't, then look at hand strengthening exercises and grip analysis. My son's OT helped my older DD with this fish activity. She would do the Jesus fish (two large arcs that cross at the tail) to strengthen the wrist, then circle over the eye for 30 seconds to make an eye to develop the pincer grasp, then she did eyelashes, scales, and some dorsal fins that did other things I don't remember. It really helped. She also recommended human wheelbarrow walking on the hands to strengthen the forearms.

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