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 Post subject: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:12 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:36 am
Posts: 9
Help! Has anyone successfully helped their offspring to write more clearly? My ds is in year two and has the most appalling handwriting. We successfully managed to eliminate mirror writing this year (hurrah) so at least the letters and numbers are facing the correct direction. Now we need to work on the legibility. Has anyone any good ideas that we can try at home? What help is available from specialists?

He has had extra handwriting lessons at school, we have tried the things you put on pencils, lined paper, handwriting practice books but his work is still messy and very hard to read. His grip looks "wrong" to me but teacher says it is fine. He is right handed and very dextrous - gross and fine motor skills are excellent - but is very frustrated by his writing and is beginning to avoid written tasks. His reading is good and his end of year scores are very encouraging (although the teacher must be able to read ciphers to have been able to mark it!)

Any top tips or pointers from you would be much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:36 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 5921
This kind of problem is in my view an offshoot of the issues raised in my post below, i.e., that young children are expected to master formal skills far too early. One of my children still has what I consider to be appalling handwriting well into secondary school and I was shocked to hear when I raised it at parents' evening that actually his is some of the best! No one has batted an eyelid about it through his entire school career. Then again his father's writing is illegible too so it is obviously something on the Y chromosome.

When we took our children to Scandinavia for an extended period, one of them should have been in Y1 and the teachers we met there were fairly horrified - 'why have you taught him to write? Look at the mess of it! He should still be doing big movements with paintbrushes!' - so that is what I would suggest here - can you get an easel or something so that he can stand up and do some painting of letters and numbers as well as just fun squiggles etc? Also use big felt tip pens on big paper, and a whiteboard, and chalks on the patio, that type of thing. Holding a pen and controlling it on paper is actually quite hard for little people and there is more fun to be had doing other stuff. My lot used to love a mix of cornflour and water - put it on a tray or something and just play with it. Ok at Y2 he is at the older end of enjoying this but it is quite an interesting experience and you can make patterns and trails in it which take a while to disappear - it is nice for an adult even.

Try not to worry - he is still very young and schools seem to be more than relaxed about it in my experience, for better or worse.


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 4599
I'm with Amber - my two boys both have appaling hand writing. Remember a lot is written on a computer these days (except exams of course - I do wonder how the examiners will ever read my sons' scrawl). One was taught to write before ha had even really decided whether he was left or right handed, and I'm convinced he chose the wrong one on a whim.


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 5921
scary mum wrote:
One was taught to write before ha had even really decided whether he was left or right handed, and I'm convinced he chose the wrong one on a whim.
I am sure that is exactly the same here Scary - I have two lefties and one right, and I am convinced he should be a leftie too.


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:23 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 244
Location: Essex
Fine motor skills take awhile to kick in and some children are just late developers. My DD is a leftie (only one we know of in the family). I took her to an Occupational therapist and she was given special grips to force the proper grip and used a writing slope. The slope really helped immediately and she was kind of cool in class for getting to use it :lol:

She has been in handwriting class the whole way through but I think she won't have to for year six because......IT IS LEGIBLE!!

When I looked at her work at open evening I couldn't believe it. She is still only nine so a summer baby. She has developed her own writing style and not only can I read it but it looks quite unique.

Some children take awhile to blossom...don't give up hope...and don't make it into a big issue.

I always said to DD that she got her poor handwriting from me and that I would practice with her so I could improve mine :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
Posts: 8228
orchard1124 wrote:
Help! Has anyone successfully helped their offspring to write more clearly? My ds is in year two and has the most appalling handwriting. We successfully managed to eliminate mirror writing this year (hurrah) so at least the letters and numbers are facing the correct direction. Now we need to work on the legibility. Has anyone any good ideas that we can try at home? What help is available from specialists?

He has had extra handwriting lessons at school, we have tried the things you put on pencils, lined paper, handwriting practice books but his work is still messy and very hard to read. His grip looks "wrong" to me but teacher says it is fine. He is right handed and very dextrous - gross and fine motor skills are excellent - but is very frustrated by his writing and is beginning to avoid written tasks. His reading is good and his end of year scores are very encouraging (although the teacher must be able to read ciphers to have been able to mark it!)

Any top tips or pointers from you would be much appreciated!



My DD has these issues. I found a paediatric occupational therapist with a specialism in handwriting to assess her. There were various issues in terms of core strength, midline, balance, fine motor skills --- none of these you would have thought as she does very well in most PE, dance and art activities. However, she was compensating for the weaknesses with a grip, wrist, arm, shoulder and body position that made writing a wearing activity for her, and slower than average. As she is very quick to think up good stories only being able to get them down slowly and inefficiently was frustrating and she also found it physically painful at times. Her handwriting was neat though - and this is where you want to be careful. You could achieve neat handwriting without addressing the underlying issues (if there are any).

The OT will give you the right exercises to do for your child's very specific issues. The problem is, when they are full-time school, making time to do this. You may be luckier. My daughter's school was completely uncooperative. They wouldn't even let the OT in to assess her so had to do the assessment at home which isn't as good because they like to see the school seating position etc.

When I look back, there are things I wish I had done slightly differently when she was a pre-schooler e.g. getting her to do all the drawing she loved doing up on the wall instead of on a horizontal surface, using tiny bits of chalk which force you to use arch shapes in your fingers and hands and a nice pincer grip etc.

I just assumed that pre-school and reception did lots of the stuff which helps develop the pre-requisites for a comfortable writing position, but they didn't. I wasn't aware enough of the kind of playthings at home that might have helped too --- don't get me wrong, she wasn't short of lots of age appropriate physical play for both fine and gross and motor skills, but the very specific "weaknesses" that she has / had were not being developed by these and, when she made choices, I realise now that she tended to avoid the things that gave her difficulty so I didn't really notice.


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2014 5:13 pm
Posts: 248
Hello - I can relate to a lot of these posts as my DS is becoming increasingly frustrated as he has to write very slowly to make his writing legible and complains that it hurts. I'm now convinced that it really does hurt (rather than him using it as an excuse). We have tried a number of DIY things to help but not sure if we are helping rather than hindering. School have been supportive - extra handwriting classes, stickers for achievements etc and there has been a slight improvement. How do I get a referral to a specialist? Do I need to go through his school or can I go direct? How do I know if they are qualified? etc etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 8:39 am
Posts: 837
This suggestion isn't intended to contradict medical advice or the need to seek it. But Stetro pencil grips are amazing. Used relentlessly for a couple of weeks at least (!), they can correct a poor grip where there is no underlying medical issue. The grips are moulded so the child's fingers are forced into the proper shape. Pushing the grip on in one direction suits right-handers; inverted it suits left-handers.

My recommendation is specific to the Stetro brand, because I have seen them transform a grip for multiple children. Other foamy / angular bits are a different kettle of fish. Not sure how easy they are to find nowadays, but they're available on eBay. Looks as if WalMart stocks them in the US, so - who knows - you may even find them in Asda?

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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 4019
Location: Reading
Mystery how did you find a suitable OT? A friend of mine has a son with problems writing and she has tried to get a referral but struggling.


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 Post subject: Re: Handwriting help
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 6962
Location: East Kent
in Kent, referrals have to be via GP, we can no longer refer from school :(


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