I am constantly amazed at the excuses people and professionals make for students regarding writing skills. The students are given crutches – accommodations and modifications – and told that they can just use a keyboard and never learn this important life skill. Yet, students are still expected to write essays with paper and pencil at school and take standardized tests with pencils. Jobs are still requiring writing skills. Sure, a lot can be done on a computer, but we have not yet transitioned to a complete computer world.
Think about it. Even if your child graduates high school and gets a job at a pizza restaurant, he/she will still have to take orders over the phone and write them out. Or, a waiter or waitress has to write an order down on paper. Do you honestly think a boss is going to allow an employee to use a tape recorder and then allow the person to go back, listen to the tape, and painstakingly write out the order later on? NO! There just isn’t time for this.
Students can be taught to write and to write well. We do it every day at our Harp Learning Institute centers. It is a step-by-step progression where we deal with gross motor skills, visual motor integration, and then add more and more thinking and writing skills until the student can process information and write at the same time. Is it easy? No. But it sure isn’t easy being the person who can’t write, either
Following is the first step you can take to help your child or student overcome motor dysgraphia, which has to do with the muscles that need to be strong in order for a student to write without fatigue.
1. Wet about six sponges and have the student turn the sponges over with a pancake turner.
2. Use spray bottles – have the student spray water outside or in a sink for about 20 squirts per hand.
3. Have the student hammer nails or golf tees into pumpkins or other large vegetables.
4. Get some bb’s from a sporting goods store – have the students scoop bb’s from one bowl into another using measuring spoons or measuring cups. Start with a small scoop and work up to a larger scoop.
5. Have the student squeeze clothespins onto the edge of a bowl and then take them off.
6. Play games like Pick up Stix or Jenga.
7. Get some squirt guns and have the student aim at empty bottles or targets.
Get your imagination going, and maybe you can think of some other ideas!