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    Joined: Sep 2013
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    Not necessarily a gifted issue, but ODS 12 is running into issues with his handwriting being so messy (and light when using a pencil) that it is hard for teachers to read. Particularly in math at the moment.

    Looking for suggestions on how he can practice and improve printing in particular. He is capable of legible writing. I've seen it once or twice. ;-)

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    Does he want to improve his handwriting? If not, then no resource or program is going to help.

    If the problem is that he forms the letters incorrectly (not just messily) you could try Handwriting Without Tears. The key to remediating handwriting is that you have to watch them like a hawk *every single time* they write anything and make sure that they *never* write the old way because you're retraining the muscles. For us (at age 9), this took about three months. If he is in school all day, this won't work.

    If it is just a matter of writing too quickly or not caring, I don't know what to tell you. I have dealt with one of each--improper formation and not caring--and I was only able to remediate the former.

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    aeh Offline
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    My approach with motivational reasons for poor handwriting has been natural consequences. If you or your teachers can't read your handwriting, resulting in you not receiving full credit for work you did (or, as some of mine have done, you propagating errors because you couldn't read your own handwriting), then you will just have to make choices about how much you value the accurate communication of you and your work to others. The purpose of written work is to communicate and record your thinking and work to other people. If it is not effective at communicating, then it is not fulfilling its purpose, and it makes sense not to credit you with having done the work or the thinking.


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    On a purely technical level, if the writing in pencil is too light, switch to a softer lead. The marks will be blacker without any extra pressure being required. The standard writing pencil is an HB (right in the middle). A 2B will give a nice dark mark without a lot of pressure or a lot of extra messiness.

    Have you tried any sort of ergonomic grip? I think some of my issues were from gripping too hard and we tried using grips that relieved some of the pressure and made the process less painful.

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    It's unclear whether he wants to improve or not. He seems to have tried to, after his geometry tutor told him she was having trouble reading some of his writing and that his teacher probably was, too.

    Thanks for the suggestion on Handwriting Without Tears - I'll look into it!

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    It also comes in Spanish version (HWT) for a gifted kid it might be more intellectually stiulating to work on handwriting in another language. Just an idea. And cursive too.

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    I think this may be what is finally resonating... hearing from someone other than mom or dad that illegible means impossible to grade properly.

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    We're going to pick up the 2B pencil - thank you! Wondering about the grip, too. I tried reading about them and they seem confusing. Do you recommend a particular type?

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    His cursive, oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly) is not that bad. It's his printing that is a mess. frown

    I don't know as he is looking for more challenge! It's not his forte to do extra work. Yet.

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    I like this sort of pencil grip. I must have used something else before 1992 apparently. I remember having an ergonomic grip so maybe it was a Stetro. The only grip I really find useless is the foam tube.

    Here's an overview of pencil grips I found while searching for history.

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    Originally Posted by ConnectingDots
    His cursive, oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly) is not that bad. It's his printing that is a mess. frown

    I don't know as he is looking for more challenge! It's not his forte to do extra work. Yet.

    Cursive is easier! Every time you pick up your pen/pencil from the paper you have to aim it back at the right place which involves spacial estimations. Cursive has less pickups. All cursive (lowercase) starts on the line and so you have a very definite place to start. Printing starts at the top (unless you are my son)....and that is willie nillie in space!

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    Thank you for finding that information! I think he'd use one for homework at least.

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    It might sound odd, but I would suggest explain your child the benefits of handwriting, one of which is improvement of academic performance https://ivypanda.com/blog/handwriting-good-for-your-studying/. Encourage him to try some exercises for improving his handwriting https://www.creativefabrica.com/the-artistry/craftshome/fun-exercises-to-improve-your-handwriting/
    https://mycursive.com/how-to-improve-handwriting-for-teenagers/.
    Your child may try mastering print handwriting which is tidy and neat and won't be hard to read for teachers. Plus it looks pretty cool, and could make his classmates jealous.

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    Originally Posted by jarredreeves
    It might sound odd, but I would suggest explain your child the benefits of handwriting, one of which is improvement of academic performance


    This is fairly late advice with regard to the original post... But with regard to this advice in general, please be aware that this almost certain does not apply to children (or adults) with dysgraphia. Our children's OT is of the firm opinion that what is required to improve learning is AUTOMATICITY. If you never reach automaticity with handwriting it will never benefit your learning to hand write... My children were all able, with years of therapy, to attain quite neat handwriting. But not automaticity and not neat handwriting plus speed, or volume, or original work (let alone all of those at once). They achieved neat handwriting in a handwriting book/lesson: 100% attention on holding the pencil and forming the letters.

    They DO have automaticity of typing.

    Our OT also had some fairly strong words about handwriting vs typing study methodologies.

    When you look at a lot of studies around whether handwriting improves you see statements like : "Most people who use handwritten notes use note taking techniques noting their own understanding in concise dot points, while most people who type lecture notes type the entire lecture verbatim".

    The problem identified here is not the typing, its that children who have mastered handwriting turn into adolescents and adults for whom existing paradigms of note taking (say Cornell notes) are designed, and which are readily learned and applied. You would need to study whether people who have been taught a useful note taking technique which uses typing, to figure out whether handwriting vs typing, or verbatim vs actual "note taking" which promotes learning.

    What I am quite sure of, is that if difficulty with handwriting overwhelms all other factors, then you aren't learning much at all...

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    Originally Posted by MumOfThree
    If you never reach automaticity with handwriting it will never benefit your learning to hand write... My children were all able, with years of therapy, to attain quite neat handwriting. But not automaticity and not neat handwriting plus speed, or volume, or original work (let alone all of those at once). They achieved neat handwriting in a handwriting book/lesson: 100% attention on holding the pencil and forming the letters.

    What I am quite sure of, is that if difficulty with handwriting overwhelms all other factors, then you aren't learning much at all...

    Thank you MoT for so nicely laying out this caveat! I have struggled many times trying to explain this distinction. (Not to mention some of the weaknesses in the "handwriting helps you learn" research.)

    I'd also like to add that "I know he can do it if he wanted to, because I have seen him do it a few times so he's just not trying the rest of the time" is textbook LD stuff. And even worse in 2E kids. Because as MoT lays out so neatly, sure they can do that thing IFF all their compensatory stars align, and they are not trying to do anything else whatsoever. Like read, think, analyze, calculate, problem solve....

    But the mechanics of handwriting (or whatever non-automated deficit(s) the kid is dealing with) suck up all their available brain resources, leaving nothing for all the other higher-level thought processes the child is also supposed to be simultaneously engaging.

    So I have found it helpful to distinguish between physical writing problems, where muscles (or sometimes motor-visual coordination) can be strengthened and readability improved, vs cognitive deficits like dysgraphia where automaticity is missing and for many, cannot be achieved in any lasting way, no matter how much the child practices.

    That said, I totally agree with aeh that at a certain age the student needs to own the problem of their own illegibility. But depending on cause, their effort to solve it may be better targeted to learning typing or appropriate apps rather than handwriting. It's tricky, trying to tease out the cost of handwriting, as it varies so much among kids, even just between my own.

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    All very true, Platypus.

    I think the discussions about the importance of handwriting tend to come down to a tendency to lose the forest. What is the principal purpose of handwriting? Presumably to communicate and create permanent (or semi-permanent) products for asynchronous communication. If insisting on physical handwriting interferes with this larger purpose, then handwriting should be the negotiable, not expressive communication. It does appear to have some secondary value in processing language during note-taking, but, as you note, that has more to do with the internal process necessary to rephrase notes into a more compact form than verbatim.

    (On a side note, I mentioned this research a little while ago to my youngest, who was then on a NitroType tear. Shortly thereafter, I was informed by said child rather thoroughly of the contents of a recent passage typed. Just to prove that one can process language effectively while typing verbatim! DC's sustained typing speed is over 100 wpm with better than 95% accuracy.)

    Using handwriting is very much optional in our homeschool. Everyone learns manuscript and cursive letter formation, and practices to sufficient proficiency to be able to sign a creditable signature (in script of your choice), fill out a form (decreasingly necessary these days), and write a one-line thank you note. For all other expressive language, use the modality of your choice (manuscript, cursive, keyboarding, speech-to-text, scribing when they were younger). I have one who does artistic hand-lettering as a hobby, and another who used STT prior to acquiring fluency in typing, and now uses typing only. Both of them, by the way, generate beautiful hand and digital art, but one is very obviously dysgraphic.

    I have variations of this conversation with my students often, many of whom perceive themselves as poor writers, when what they really are is poor handwriters.


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    Originally Posted by aeh
    Both of them, by the way, generate beautiful hand and digital art, but one is very obviously dysgraphic..


    All three of mine produce advanced hand and digital art for age, and are very good to exceptional musicians for age. And all dysgraphic, to varying degrees. The most severely dysgraphic child is the least able artist, probably entirely because they rarely choose to practice this skill. They are, however, the most gifted musician. This causes significant consternation for teachers and a tendency to believe the child is faking the handwriting difficulty.

    The last time we had a Ed psych evaluation I asked for the written portions to be reproduced with typing (as a thought experiment, there’s no way to do this officially). WIAT essay score: 4th percentile with handwriting, and when reproduced with typing 99th percentile... doesn’t really get much clearer than that.

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    Mine are musicians as well, and the dysgraphia does not "show" at all there either. There are so many misconceptions regarding dysgraphia.


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