Dysgraphia – Improve Your Handwriting

Dysgraphia – Improve Your Handwriting

Teacher helping students to Write

Teacher helping students to Write


There are over 25 muscles in the hands and fingers so you can see why it is essential to have strong muscles as this leads to good handwriting and drawing.

You will find a lot of helpful information and excellent aids and equipment to help people with dysgraphia and handwriting issues below:

How you can Improve Your Handwriting!

There are so many ways you help a student with dysgraphia / handwriting problems.  If you know the tools available to you, you will be able to help them very quickly.  The problem is many people do not understand how they should write correctly.  The ideas below should help tremendously with handwriting.

These are all tried and tested techniques, why not give them a go?

How to Hold a Pencil – The Tripod Grip

The ‘Tripod Grip’, is used internationally and one of the easiest ways to hold a pencil as you have a full movement for writing and drawing. Furthermore, this grip can also be used by right and left-handed people.

I am sure we have all seen some weird and wonderful positions with children holding pencils, but if you use this simple one, it will work wonders!

Pencil Grips 

Pencil Grips

Pencil Grips

If you use a ‘pencil grip’, you cannot fail to hold a pencil correctly. Students of any age can use them; some are plain, others are more decorative, like an ‘owl’, ‘dinosaur’ etc.

One of my grand-children who has a problem with hand-writing is just seven and has only recently been given a ‘pencil grip’ to help him with his handwriting. Guess what? The ‘pencil grip’ keeps ‘disappearing’ or gets ‘broken’! I think it is ridiculous to expect a child of that age, to start using something that the majority of his classmates are not. It makes them stand out, and he is embarrassed.

Why not get them all to use pencil grips when they start school, that would probably sort out a lot of minor problems at the start?

Size of Pencil

Is the student using the correct size pen or pencil? If they are very young, cut a pencil in half – this will save money as well.

Paper

Place your forearms on the desk. If you are right-handed, they should place their left hand on the paper to hold it still. The paper should be turned slightly to the left.

Writing Slope 

Writing Slope

Child using a Writing Slope

Writing slopes – These come in different materials, and they enable students to write at the recommended angle of 20 degrees. These sturdy slopes usually have a rubber grip to prevent slipping.

Sitting in the Correct Position

Many people wouldn’t even think about a ‘correct sitting position’ for handwriting. But this is important; the chair should have a straight back and be the correct height so both feet can be placed on the floor.

Wedge Posture Aid

Sit on Wedge

Sit on Wedge

Helps balance, encourages proper sitting and correct posture while aiding concentration.

There are small bumps on the top and underneath it is smooth; this appears to provide sensory feedback, helping children to remain focused for longer. It is particularly beneficial for those with poor body awareness and low muscle tone.

All the items mentioned above can be found in the Dysgraphia Aids and Equipment Section.

Playing can Improve Handwriting / Dysgraphia

You can see from the lists below that there are lots of things you can use to help a student with dysgraphia / handwriting issues.

Many of the things listed have been tried and tested for people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s).

Most of these things are free or very cheap to buy.  The fact that the children, especially the younger ones, think they are merely ‘playing’, is a bonus. But just look at the skills (at the bottom of the page) they are developing?


Dysgraphia Treatment

All these games and exercises mentioned below help to advance ‘fine motor skills’ and ‘gross motor skills’.

How to develop ‘Fine-Motor’ Skills

Playing or practising things such as:

• Practising letter formation in sand/salt trays. (I use cat litter trays they are very cheap.)
• Using chalk or coloured pens, to do letter formation on the black/whiteboard.
• Drawing shapes, i.e.,  triangles, squares and circles.
• Shape and pattern copying.
• Pre-formed wooden / plastic letter shapes – children follow with their fingers.
• Templates – help to keep the paper in the right place/angle.
• Tracing pictures.
• Using ‘Etch a Sketch’ to practice writing – write, shake it and it goes away.
• Mazes – Tracking objects to their ‘homes’, draw along the line back to the rabbit hutch.
• Colouring in ‘mosaics’ or ‘Paint by Numbers’ are excellent to improve ‘fine motor’ control; much better than merely writing. (You can get these for adults too.)
• Colouring in old-fashioned ‘doylies’ (for cakes) is another way to improve fine-motor control.
• Colouring books – help children stay inside the lines.
• Threading coloured beads.
• Spirograph is excellent for hand control.
• Jigsaws.
• Lego.

Developing Gross Motor Skills

Playing games such as:

  • Hockey.
  • Tennis.
  • Swimming.
  • Juggling.

Dysgraphia Treatment – Hand Strengthening Techniques:

There are over 25 muscles in the hand and fingers, using the items below, specifically help with strengthening the hands and wrists, which ultimately lead on to better handwriting and drawing.

Small Balls, including:

  • Squeeze Balls.
  • ‘Squidgie Balls.
  • Tennis Balls.

Pummelling items, including:

  • Therapeutic Clay.
  • Modelling Clay.
  • Play-Doh.
  • Plasticine.
  • Blue Tac.

Dysgraphia Treatment – Developing Skills, including:

Playing the games above and using the exercising techniques mentioned, all help to improve fine and gross motor skills, which is crucial for good handwriting / dysgraphia. This then enhances:

• Fine Motor Skills
• Gross Motor Skills
• Sequencing
• Space organisation
• Directional awareness &
• Strategies.

Dysgraphia - Handwriting Aids & Equipment
If you use a ‘pencil grip’, you cannot fail to hold a pencil correctly. Students of any age can use them; some are plain, others are more decorative, like an ‘owl’, ‘dinosaur’ etc.

The rest of the products listed can also improve handwriting quite quickly:

Pen & Pencils

1 Pen & Pencil Grips
2 ‘Move Easy’ Handwriting Pens & Pencils
3 Short Pocket Half Size Pencils
4 Triangle Pencils

Specialist Paper & Boards

5 Tinted Lined Handwriting Paper &
6 Tinted Lined Handwriting Exercise Books
7 Abilitations Hi-Write Ruled Notebook – (Tinted)
8 Raised Lined Handwriting Paper

Other Aids

9 ‘Handwriting Transparent One Finger Spacer’
10 Large Magnetic Gel Boards
11 A4 Size Whiteboard (with the cursive alphabet on)
12 Writing Slope
13 Sit-on Wedge Posture Aid


Pen & Pencils

Pen & Pencil Grips
These are really excellent. If you have a child with a handwriting problem, this would be the first item I would buy! Available from several outlets.
www.thedyslexiashop.co.uk or www.crossboweducation.com

Move Easy Pencil/Pens
These pens and pencils have a moulded grip and are very easy to use (but I think you still need to know how to hold the pencil first).
www.tts-group.co.uk

Short Pocket Half Size Pencils
Depending on the age of the child, it may be better to use ‘half size’ pencils. You could save money and get a standard pencil and cut it half!
www.amazon.co.uk

Triangle Pencils
This does to a certain point keep the fingers in the correct position, but I personally don’t think they are that easy to use.
www.thedyslexiashop.co.uk/ or www.crossboweducation.com


Specialist Paper & Boards

Tinted Handwriting Paper & Exercise Books
Paper with lines already spaced out on it, which makes it easier when children are practising handwriting. Different colours are available.
www.tts-group.co.uk

Abilitations Hi-Write Wide Ruled Notebook – (Tinted)
Similar to the exercise books above.
www.amazon.com

Raised Lined Handwriting Paper
Designed to be used by individuals who have difficulty staying in the line of standard writing paper. Some people say this is excellent. I haven’t used it yet, but I would have thought if you were trying to write fluently, you would find when you pushed the pencil up, it would just get stuck. I will have to buy some and try it. If anyone has tried this with their child can you let me know, please?
www.tts-group.co.uk


Other Useful Aids for Handwriting

Handwriting Transparent One Finger Spacer
Helps children learn how to space letters and words. You can save money by using lollipop sticks!
www.tts-group.co.uk

Large Magnetic Gel Boards
Write on the board using a stylus and just swipe your hand across to erase. I used this a couple of months ago and must admit I was very impressed with it. Children will definitely love it.
www.tts-group.co.uk

A4 Size Whiteboard (with the cursive alphabet on)
This features the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) for the UK, approved cursive alphabet formed on the whiteboard.
www.thedyslexiashop.co.uk or www.crossboweducation.com

Writing Slope
This keeps the paper at the optimum angle for handwriting. It enables students to write at the recommended angle of degrees. These sturdy slopes usually have a rubber grip to prevent slipping. Anyone remember the old school desks, they were slightly higher at the back than the front. (They must have known about these things then!)
www.thedyslexiashop.co.uk or www.crossboweducation.com

Sit-on Wedge Posture Aid
Helps balance, encourages proper sitting and correct posture while aiding concentration. There are small bumps on the top and underneath it is smooth; this appears to provide sensory feedback, helping children to remain focused for longer. It is particularly beneficial for those with poor body awareness and low muscle tone.
www.tts-group.co.uk

Dysgraphia - What does Multi-Sensory Mean?

You can help a student with dysgraphia, by using Multi-Sensory Teaching Methods, developing skills through play and hand strengthening exercises.

What is Multi-Sensory?

I am frequently being asked by parents and students, ‘what does multi-sensory mean’?

Multi-Sensory merely means, , using:

  • Eyes.
  • Ears.
  • Touch.
  • Taste and
  • Smell.

(There are many more ‘senses’ but, these are the key ones used in teaching.)

Using some or all of these methods have shown to be the most effective way of teaching students with dyslexia / dysgraphia.

You can see from the lists below that there are lots of things you can use to help students. Most of these things are free or very cheap to buy.

Most of the time the students, especially the younger ones, think they are merely ‘playing’; which I believe is the best way to learn.


Dysgraphia - Touch Typing

 


Dysgraphia & Touch Typing

There are a lot of ‘Touch Typing’ packages available. However, I think for people with dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD or other learning difficulties (SpLD’s), it is advisable to use programmes that were specially designed with ‘dyslexic’ type problems in mind. The programmes listed below, have been tested and used for years. They are excellent.

Dysgraphia:  Typing Packages

KAZ – Typing Programme

Children love this because it has a big yellow bird that helps to teach them to type. Designed for children 6+ years (This company now has a Dyslexia Edition which has been developed by the ‘Dyslexia Research Trust’.)

 

KAZ

‘Nessy Fingers Touch Typing

‘Nessy Fingers Touch Typing’, helps children improve spelling and keyboard skills.  Designed for children between 8-12 years.

 

Nessy

Touch-type Read and Spell (TTRS)

Children who learn to touch type via a multisensory course like Touch-type Read and Spell also have their phonics skills reinforced.

 

TTRS

Type to Learn 3
Students embark on time-travel missions to learn keyboarding skills.

Smart Kids


Free Typing Games

There are a lot of games around for children to learn to type.   I do not know if they are any good. However, some parents have said,  they keep their children occupied, especially when one of them absolutely loves planes. So, it may be worth a try.

Anything that keeps them interested can’t be wrong!

Burning Cargo!
A motivating Free typing game.
www.burningcargo.com/

 

Aeroplanes
A motivating Free typing game.
www.typinggames.zone/flight-simulator


Touch Typing Review

KAZ

Why not give your child an advantage over the holidays and get them to touch-type? I am sure you would not mind sitting with them (although you don’t have to) for ¹15 minutes a day for five days.  This will give them an excellent start when they return to school.

KAZ is for children from six years of age, he is a ‘big bird’, and the kids love him.
The programme basically has five phrases, and each sentence will take about fifteen minutes to complete. ¹(Now the caveat on this is there is never any pressure on the child; it may take 15 minutes, 30 or just ten, they have to do it at their own pace.)

When they have completed the five phrases, they will have used all of their fingers and covered the entire keyboard.

After that, it is just practice increasing the speed and to get the whereabouts of the keys to ‘long-term memory’ (that’s my expression, not the Company’s).

There are also sections for punctuation etc., but they are separate, and you can choose to complete them or not.

My husband and one of our sons can type at 40wpm, using two fingers, so, I don’t necessarily believe in touch-typing per se, but I firmly believe that everyone should know their way around a keyboard well.

If they know the keyboard, when they want to write something, they can just get on and type – it makes writing more accessible.

There are different programmes available; one for children with dyslexia, junior children, and even a version for children with ADHD. Furthermore, it is not just confined to children, so you may want to have a go yourself!

For further information, go to KAZ.

Or telephone 01926 423424. The lady on the other end of the phone is Sheraleen Bragenza. She is very easy to talk to, and she can answer any questions you may have.

by Maria Chivers
2018

Congratulations to KAZ, they have just been ‘voted #1 Best Typing Tutor of the Year’ for 2018.

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