If you have a child with ADHD or Dyslexia, you know that they are just like any other child…but with some special learning curves. There is nothing wrong with them or their ability to learn, its just a matter of unlocking their brain’s full potential.
Handwriting is one of those areas that they can particularly struggle with, as their brain struggles to either stay focused or process the correct “patterns” in the letters. I have one child with both ADHD and Dyslexia and it can be frustrating at times – both for him and me. At first, I thought my child was being stubborn and just didn’t want to write. I soon learned it was because writing was so difficult for him. He couldn’t distinguish a difference in some of the letters and shapes used to make them.
It didn’t help that it was difficult for him to focus and stay focus. His brain moves so fast that it can’t keep up with all it is processing, let alone slow down to learn how to write these “silly letters” as he puts it. After several weeks of struggling with sitting still and staying focused, I realized we needed a different approach. We have had to make adjustments in his school work, as too much writing was taxing on him and his brain. It just didn’t work and he would simply shut-down.
Make it Active
If they can’t sit to focus on their handwriting, it is going to be very difficult to learn how to write. Make it fun and make it active. Fine Motor activities are a great way to work on their handwriting skills. Use different sensory materials to help them with their letter shapes and using those muscles in such a fine way.
It takes practice – lots and lots of practice, which is annoying to ADHD children and frustrating to those with Dyslexia. So make it a game and something they can just play with as they practice. I have found some great tips and fun printables on Pinterest that have helped us greatly.
Change it up
I am one of those people (and student) who likes to work at something until I get it right. However, for my son that just doesn’t work. In fact, it makes him shut down completely and our day is done. Sometimes we can come back to what we were doing later in the day, but often times it doesn’t happen and we just have to move on.
I have learned that if he starts to get frustrated, we need to put aside what we’re doing and move on to something else and come back later. This doesn’t always work, but it does help most of the time. Sometimes just doing something active to work his brain helps to get him refocused for handwriting (or reading) when we try again.
Think Outside the box
Using different sensory materials to help with resistance is what has worked best for my son. But, sometimes even he gets bored with our sensory box. So, we have taken handwriting outside to the porch or driveway and used chalk to work on letters.
My kids love to play hopscotch, so when we worked on letter recognition, I would draw a hopscotch “board” with several different letters, that he had to identify the letters as he hopped. He thought that was the best game ever. Not only did it take him outside and give him some different scenery, it was a fun active way to help him learn without “learning” – in his mind at least.
As frustrating as it can be sometimes that my son doesn’t “get” it as quickly as his siblings, I have learned that getting frustrated myself only makes things worse. He has enough anxiety and tension when he is trying to learn, that he doesn’t need me adding to it. Staying calm isn’t always easy though, especially when you’ve been working at on one letter for 20 minutes. But, it makes a world of difference.
I have been known to excuse myself for a good cry in the bathroom a time or two. It can be frustrating for me, as a parent, not knowing how to help him, so I can’t image how he feels. I just take a few minutes to pray, cry and regroup. It does us both good.
Don’t demand perfection
While my son is a perfectionist on his own (he might come by that honestly), I do not demand perfection from him. He will likely get there one day, but right now…its about learning and practice. When he gets in a tizzy about it not looking perfect, I calmly remind him that’s why we have erasers. We can just erase it and try again.
Sometimes I even point out that I still can’t draw a straight line to save my life, which makes him laugh at me and we can move on and try again. Showing him that I am not perfect and that mistakes do happen, really helps.
Check out our Mastering Handwriting Curriculum
This digital curriculum goes from prewriting, in the beginning stages of teaching your child how to properly hold a pencil, into manuscript and cursive writing side-by-side. Teaching them side-by-side is another way to help ADHD and dyslexic children with their handwriting.
Manuscript letters can be confusing – all the shapes and directions. Simply flip a ‘p’ around and it’s a ‘q’. Turn it upside down and its a ‘b’. Flip that and its a ‘d’. It can be quite overwhelming to the ADHD and dyslexic child. But cursive is one direction and only one way. They seem to see the patterns easier and the fluid movement of the letters helps them form the letters correctly.
Letters are not introduces in alphabetical order. Rather, they are introduced in an order I believe is most effective after working through various struggles in my own children. From the formation of the letters to the sounds they make, I believe this order works best.
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