Handwriting & Exams


Children’s handwriting is always a talking point at school, and it appears to be accepted in the teaching community that children can/will grow out of handwriting problems. What is it teachers seem to think will suddenly happen to children’s handwriting? Why should they grow out of it?

It would make handwriting more accessible for children, if they were taught to use a ‘cursive script’ when they start to learn to write, instead of teaching them to print first and then expecting them to change over. (It should be said, however, that some schools do teach ‘cursive’ writing from the start.) This would also avoid the confusion that typical dyslexic people have with letters such as: ‘b’ ‘d’, ‘p’, ‘q’, because when you use a cursive script, there are  few reversible letters, because of the way the letter start and how it connects the other letters together.

Dear Santa Letter Girl2My own opinion is if a student can’t write properly by the time they are in secondary school (11/12ish), it won’t improve because they would have had a lot of input into the handwriting at the Junior school. I think we should just ‘bite the bullet’ and put these youngsters on a computer-based ‘writing tool’ immediately, so they do not fall any further behind. Teachers should also be aware that by actually being able to ‘read’ what has been written, saves you lots of time!

I have found that most teachers do allow students to do their homework, either on a computer and many suggest it is emailed to them for the day it is required. I am not sure I am necessarily in favour of this, because, especially students with dyslexia they need to read proof their work well, and I think the best way to do that is to print it (but that maybe because I am of the ‘older generation’.

There are so many computer aids and equipment for dysgraphia that parents are often totally confused with what to purchase first. I have listed a selection of aids, which are specifically designed to help students with dysgraphia, and which as a parent of two dyslexic children, we found to be useful.

There are so many computer aids and equipment for dysgraphia that parents are often totally confused with what to purchase first. I have listed a selection of aids, which are specifically designed to help students with dysgraphia and which as a parent of two dyslexic children, we found to be useful:

What is a Tripod Grip?

A ‘tripod grip’, is the way a student should actually ‘hold’ the pencil. By holding it correctly, it takes a lot of stress of the hand, and the pen is supported correctly. You can usually tell if a student is not holding a pen correctly when a student complains that his ‘hand hurts when I write’. Student’s should use a ‘tripod grip’ and practice 5 minutes each day; this is habit forming.

There are a lot of lovely different pencil and pen grips available for different ages. They start from a few pence to several pounds. Some of these are below:

triangular_Grip1.Triangular Grips for the younger pupils:
‘Pencil Grips’ are a good way to ensure that the child is holding the pen correctly. There are many different styles, including ones with, ‘dogs, cats, owls’ etc on. If you hold the pen correctly, this significantly reduces stress on the hand. These pencil grips are available very cheaply through most stationery stores, which is a good job considering the children loose them all the time! I think these are probably the best for the very young child. I think at one time, every pen and pencil in our house had them on!
Price Approx: £3.00 for 10

Available from: Crossbow Education

Stubbi_Pencil_GripsThe “Stubbi” Pencil Grip
The Stubbi Pencil grip was one of the first grips designed with ergonomic properties and remains one of the most popular choices. Extremely good pencil grips, students cannot fail to hold the pen correctly and they are very comfortable to use.
Price Approx: £3.95 for 10.
Available from: Crossbow Education

2.Pencil Pens
PenAgain Ergo-Sof Pen. This pen encourages good grip for the student (including adults) and helps both the left and right-handed child to form letters correctly. You cannot fail to hold this pen in the correct way, thereby teaching the younger child to hold the pen correct every time. It should be said, though that these pens are very comfortable to use and are not just for children.

The suppliers also confirm that the ‘no grip’ design may be of particular benefit to people who find it difficult or uncomfortable to hold a pen. These pens are refillable.
Price Approx: £7.00 (but well worth it and because of the shape a little more difficult to loose, even for the children!)

Available from: The Dyslexia Shop

Grotto_grip3. GROTTO GRIP 5 PACK
Finally, a grip with all the ‘write’ features – Developed and tested by paediatric occupational therapists specialising in handwriting. Writing is fifty percent of literacy; this product will help your child be all they can be.

‘I am a teacher and the occupational therapist at our school recommended this pencil grip for a few of my students. It works really well in training their hand to hold the pencil correctly. It is a little bit large, but I find it helps students hold the pencil correctly. For my kindergarten student, I need to remind him how to hold it and watch that he tucks his middle finger under correctly. I very much recommend this grip’
By Music Fan “Jess”, Amazon

Dexball_Writing_Aid4. Dexball Writing Aid
Whilst this contraption certainly looks a little ‘odd’, it is actually very handy for the student who has problems with holding a pen correctly.

The Dexball has a pen holder attached to the soft ball and then the user holds the ball between forefinger and thumb. The pen is held in place by a plastic insert, when tightened. Some children will love to use this because it is different and fun to use. However, it is not cheap and if it was for my child, I would probably try one of the cheaper options first’.
Price Approx: £24.00 (expensive, but read the note above)

Available from: EmpTech

writing_slope5. Writing Slope
It is important for good writing that the forearm is well supported on the desk and that the paper is placed at an angle. You do not need to have a ‘writing slope’, but it can help. It is even more important that a student supports their forearm if they are left-handed.
Writing Slope enables children to work and write at the optimum angle. Each sturdy slope is set at the recommended angle of 20 degrees and has a rubber grip to prevent slipping. This is an ideal piece of equipment for the student who has difficulty keeping the work in the right position.
Price Approx: £25.00.
Available from: CrossBow Education

posture-pack6. Posture Pack
Bad posture creates stress on young spines.
Posture Pack makes a dramatic difference to posture. There are thousands in use in schools and homes. Improves handwriting, study, attention span and comfort.
Price Approx: £.
Available from:

Exam Concessions

GCSE, ‘A’ Levels and any other Examinations

HandwritingIf you have dysgraphia, you may be able to get concessions with examinations. Every Examination Board has different rules and regulations. Therefore, the school should contact them in plenty of time to ascertain the exact requirements of the individual Board.
You may be able to use a computer for your coursework and examinations. Other concessions you may be entitled to include:

• Extra time – extra time, up to 25%, as dyslexics process information more slowly, this puts them on an equal footing as non-dyslexics.
• Amanuensis / Scribe – an adult who writes for the student.
• Reader – an adult to read out the questions to the student.
• Word processors – some dyslexic students type faster than they can write.
• Voice Recognition Software.
• Or other arrangements.

To get entitlement for any of the above, the Examination Boards will require a current assessment report from an Educational Psychologist or from a teacher with specialist qualifications for identifying assessing and teaching pupils with specific learning difficulties. The school should be able to arrange this for you, however, if there is a delay, you may need to arrange this yourself.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) is the single voice for its member awarding bodies. A Booklet on the regulations is available from www.jcq.org.uk.

You should request these concessions as early as possible.

Updated: November 2017