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Dysgraphia: How can I help my child?

Is your child struggling with handwriting? The cause may be more than just laziness or lack of motivation; it could be a neurologically-based learning issue called dysgraphia. This post explains the signs and symptoms of dysgraphia and the steps you can take to help your child succeed in reading and spelling.

What Is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia: How can I help my child? - All About Learning Press

A child with dysgraphia has handwriting that is worse than you would normally see in a child of his age, intelligence, and education level.

But dysgraphia isn’t just about messy papers. A child with dysgraphia may also appear to be unmotivated or lazy, or what we sometimes refer to as a “reluctant writer.” Because he has trouble expressing his thoughts and ideas in writing, he may avoid writing altogether.

Dysgraphia can also make your child avoid seemingly normal situations. For example, does your child avoid Scouts or clubs because he may be asked to fill out forms? Is he hesitant to participate in any activity that involves writing, even something as simple as signing his own name? Has he been teased because of childish penmanship?

If so, you have probably experienced firsthand the frustration, anger, and anxiety that dysgraphia can cause.

Symptoms of Dysgraphia

As with most learning challenges, the symptoms of dysgraphia can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms may vary in the way they show up in children of different ages.

In general, a child with dysgraphia may have trouble with the following:

  • Forming letters, numbers, and words
  • Spelling words correctly
  • Organizing thoughts and ideas into written expression

Simply put, dysgraphia makes the process of writing quite difficult, so a child with dysgraphia often has a much easier time expressing ideas verbally than in writing.

Symptoms of Dysgraphia Download

Here are some additional signs of dysgraphia:

  • A tight or awkward pencil grip
  • Tires quickly while writing
  • Writing is illegible, inconsistent, and has poorly formed letters and numbers
  • Incorrect spacing and positioning of letters, words, and lines of written text
  • Writing is slow and labored
  • Complete avoidance of writing
  • Difficulty following spelling and grammar rules
  • Trouble aligning columns of numbers in math problems
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
  • Trouble with tasks that require concurrent thinking and writing

If you recognize some of these symptoms in your child, read on!

Compensation is the First Step

Compensation means helping your child “work around” his handwriting issues so he can still continue to learn.

You may be surprised to hear me say that. After all, dysgraphia is a serious issue, and surely we don’t want to just “work around” the problem, right?

Well, at first we do want to work around the penmanship issue.

This doesn’t mean that you aren’t eventually going to tackle the problem—that step will come next—but it does mean that you are going to reduce the stress that your child is likely experiencing, and at the same time make sure your student can continue to learn.

But exactly how you compensate will depend upon your child’s age and the subject areas being studied.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Work on keyboarding skills. Using a keyboard instead of paper and pencil can be a great way to motivate a reluctant writer to express his thoughts and ideas.
  2. Do work orally. Many assignments can be completed orally with a parent.
  3. Use speech-to-text tools. Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Sound Note are good examples of speech recognition software. These tools allow your child’s work to be dictated orally and automatically translated to text.
  4. Use alternatives to written assignments. Until your student has stronger handwriting skills, consider using some of the interesting ideas below.
dysgraphia-alternatives-to-written-assignments-700x400

Once the pressure is off and your child is learning in other subject areas without pen and paper, it’s time to work on penmanship skills.

Check for Proper Handwriting Position

Since so many kids with dysgraphia have incorrect writing posture and pencil grip, it’s important to establish proper handwriting position before attempting to address specific penmanship concerns. The graphic below is a handy guide for evaluating your child’s handwriting position.

dysgraphia-handwritingposition-1200x540

Tackle Handwriting Remediation

Once you have checked and corrected your child’s posture and pencil grip, it’s time to actually put pencil to paper and start writing.

Please keep in mind that it’s important to allow your child to acquire writing skills at his own pace. Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap. Your child has a special need, so let him progress naturally and not at the pace recommended for his age, his grade level, or his curriculum.

Also, as you work to improve your child’s ability to write, continue to reduce the amount of writing that is required to complete his schoolwork. Allow learning to happen without pen and paper.

Try these tips to help make penmanship lessons more productive and enjoyable for you and your child.

  • If your child reverses letters, my free report on “How to Solve Letter Reversals” will be a huge help to you.
  • Use a research-based handwriting program. Handwriting Without Tears has been effective for many children with handwriting problems.
  • Provide short bursts of handwriting exercise instead of long, drawn-out sessions. Many kids with dysgraphia need to work on fine motor skills. Activities such as coloring, cutting, painting, model-building, working with clay, working pencil mazes, and threading beads will increase dexterity and build fine motor skills.
  • Schedule penmanship practice time for 5-10 minutes a day.
  • If your child can’t remember how to form letters consistently—writing them correctly at times, but incorrectly at other times—it could be a sign that he has problems with his working memory.
  • Work on correct letter formation by using multisensory methods and techniques that don’t require writing. Finger-writing in the air, in sand, in shaving cream, or on sandpaper are all great exercises that can encourage improvement in proper letter formation.
ig-teachingthroughspecialneeds

Dysgraphia Also Affects Reading and Spelling

For a child with dysgraphia, the very act of writing takes so much energy that it actually interferes with the process of learning, which can then negatively impact his ability to learn.

Because your child’s dysgraphia affects the way he learns to read and spell, it’s important to remove the handwriting barrier from both of these subject areas. All About Reading and All About Spelling are designed to do just that! In fact, both programs can be completed without requiring any handwriting at all.

Here are some features that will help your child learn more quickly:

  • AAR and AAS are multisensory. With a multisensory approach, children take in and interact with information in various ways. Learning happens through multiple senses, primarily through sight, sound, and touch (kinesthetic). The kinesthetic approach can be very helpful to a child who has expressive language struggles.
  • AAR and AAS are incremental and mastery-based. In both programs, students master one concept before moving on to a new concept. This helps reduce frustration and confusion and allows children to move at their own pace through the curriculum.
  • AAR and AAS use color-coded letter tiles. Working with the letter tiles can make the difference between understanding a concept and not understanding it. The letter tiles provide a kinesthetic method for practicing spelling words without the need for paper and pencil.
  • AAR and AAS have built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning difficulties benefit from lots of review. Customized review allows you to target the areas in which your child is struggling.
  • AAR and AAS are highly motivational. Both programs use a wide variety of fun, hands-on activities that minimize the need for writing. Short, engaging lessons and the ability to track their own progress keep kids motivated from the very first lesson.

But what do moms who are in the trenches with their struggling learners say about overcoming dysgraphia?

Some Hope and Encouragement for You

Helping a child who is struggling with dysgraphia takes patience. Change may not come quickly, but trust that it will come! And to encourage you during this process, I’d like to share a few success stories from our community.

Here’s Tanya’s story:

dysgraphia-letter-tiles-200x200

“My daughter has dysgraphia and she is thriving with AAS! We just finished level 4 (starting 4th grade). The tiles are great for spelling when writing is just too much.

I like that the lessons are at our own pace, and that she can master the material in a way that works best for her! Thanks!”

This is from Rebekah, another mom who is finding success with AAS:

“Although we haven’t pursued an official diagnosis, our eight-year-old son has all the characteristics of dysgraphia. The best thing we ever did was back off from writing for a while. He still struggles, but it’s getting easier. He loves his AAR, and we will be starting AAS soon. Things are finally clicking, and I am so thankful that spelling, reading, and writing no longer involve tears!”

And Sharon shared what a difference All About Spelling is making for her son:

dysgraphia-erasing-words-200x200

“My son used to feel defeated, but now he has so much more enthusiasm for reading since he doesn’t have to write. He doesn’t dread school when his hands don’t hurt and get tired. He also doesn’t waste erasers from erasing so often!

“He uses his magnetic letter tiles to build his words now, and he’ll often ask to handwrite the words he has built. The tiles help him tell his b, d, p, and q apart, which make writing and spelling easier. Being able to look at the letters while writing has helped his handwriting improve, too!”

The Bottom Line: Don’t Let Dysgraphia Rob Your Child

Handwriting may seem like a small part of education, but it affects your child’s ability to express ideas. It’s important to address dysgraphia, and to prevent it from stealing your child’s motivation, his joy of learning, and his self-esteem.

Starting today, you can help make learning easier for your child with dysgraphia by implementing three simple ideas.

  1. Compensation: Minimize the distractions and frustrations of the writing process by using alternatives to handwritten assignments.
  2. Evaluate: Establishing proper handwriting position is critical to handwriting success. Begin the process by checking your child’s handwriting position.
  3. Remediation: Work on improving your child’s penmanship skills by using the ideas in this post.

If you have any questions about your child’s dysgraphia and how it affects reading and spelling instruction, please feel free to call or email us. With All About Reading and All About Spelling, your child can continue to learn without frustration, and we’re here to help!

Does your child struggle with dysgraphia? What has helped? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

How to Solve Letter Reversals

Photo credit: @teachingthroughspecialneeds via Instagram

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Alysia Newsom

says:

This article is full of so much helpful information. I plan on using these ideas with my own student.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found this helpful, Alysia. Let me know if you have any questions or ever need help.

Suzanne Smith

says:

My grandson is 8 and in the 2nd grade and has been diagnosed as academically gifted. He’s reading above his grade level, no problem. The problem is, he can’t write. He’s brilliant in math if SOMEONE ELSE writes the numbers, he can’t.

What help, outside the home, is available? Is the school responsible for tutoring in this area?

I think it would be detrimental fir him not to pass his grade due to the writing issue and yet he’s brilliant. What can be done? What are the options?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Suzanne,
Schools can and, if requested in writing, are required to evaluate students for writing learning disabilities. Once they have evaluated him, then the process for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can begin. His IEP should include both accommodations in the classroom (such as being allowed to complete work orally or with technology aid) and specialized help to improve his writing abilities. However, in many cases, it is essential for parents to be strong advocates for their children through the entire process and after to ensure the child is getting all that he needs to be successful.

Start by speaking with his teacher and provide him or her with a written request for evaluation. Follow up on it. Paperwork and such takes time, especially as schools are playing catch-up due to everything that has happened this year, but you should be feeling like progress toward his evaluation and IEP meeting is being made, even if slow.

Outside of the school, consider also speaking with your child’s pediatrician about it as well. Occupational therapy is often covered by insurance and can be very helpful in these situations.

I hope this helps some. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Keke

says:

I’m 21 year old but can’t read I need help

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry you are struggling, Keke. Do you have anyone that can help you learn?

Lorri Ingrassia

says:

I’m not sure if my grandson struggles with this or if it is too soon to know. He complains about finger pain and his hand hurting. He is incredibly bright and can sight read at just 5 years old but seems to be struggling with assignments in kindergarten. I will look up the resources you have recommended. Thank you
Grandma Lorri

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lorri,
It may be too soon to know, but you can help him build up his hand muscles and fine motor skills. Playdough is a wonderful activity for this, as is painting (both with brushes and finger paints), and cutting with scissors. Doing these sorts of activities most every day should help him.

Oh, and little kids should be using little pencils and crayons. The big “My First Pencils” marketed for young students are actually too big and heavy for small hands. Little pencils (sometimes called “golf pencils) or half-used pencils and broken crayons are much better in size and weight for the youngest writers.

Lakeitha

says:

Hello, I think my Son is suffering from dysgraphia. He’s now 15 years old and has been having a difficult time getting through school and he struggles the most with anything that has to do with a lot of reading.

He has also been diagnosed with ADHD but I’ve always thought that it was more to it. I’ve seen signs that he may have dysgraphia but I just didn’t know where to start. He was having a real hard time with his art project which he had to trace a circle object. I also noticed that he holds his pencil in an awkward position but I never thought that it was a problem.

He also writes very tiny unless I tell him to write a little bigger. He knows that he’s different because of the struggles he deals with but I don’t treat him different nor do I want him to be look at as different from society. I’m at the point that I just want my child to succeed and to be able to feel as though he has some kind of normalcy in his life. Please help!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lakeitha,
It may be best to start by requesting evaluation from his school. You will likely have to make a formal request in writing. You can also speak to his pediatrician about testing for dysgraphia and other learning disabilities.

Dysgraphia doesn’t tend to affect reading, but you mention he struggles with anything that has a lot of reading. While much of what you describe does tend to suggest dysgraphia, he may also have a reading disability. It may help to take a look at our Symptoms of Dyslexia Checklist as well.

In today’s modern world, it is easier than ever for those that struggle with writing to succeed. Most devices have speech-to-text options where he can speak his writing and have it be converted to text. Word processing programs like Word and Google Docs have voice dictation options as well. With an official diagnosis and IEP from the school, he can use such options for school work even into college.

I hope this gives you a bit of a direction to proceed in. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Rebecca

says:

My son is 12 still in grade 4 because he can’t read or write how can I help him. I’m so stressed

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
I’m sorry your son is struggling! You may find our Signs of a Reading Problem and 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner post helpful.

Very often, older students that struggle like this are missing some foundational skills that will help them to succeed. You may need a “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling to help your son master those foundational skills.

Please let me know if you have any questions or have specific concerns.

Liz

says:

My 17 year old struggles with writing structure. I started homeschooling when she was 9 because of it. Then we placed her back in high school her junior year. All regular classes. She made straight A’s. I tried to get her proper assistance but because the teachers were GIVING her A’s without looking at her written work and because she was a model student I could not get assistance. I took it all the way to the school board. They gave her a 504 plan that did not address her dyslexia nor dysgraphia. I spent thousands on diagnosis and 8 months fighting the system. They only addressed her dyscalculia (her strongest subject happens to be math!). Then the pandemic hit. I have pulled her from school and am homeschooling again for her senior year. She wants to go to college. But I am lost as to what to do. She can barely produce a simple sentence. She has gotten worse since she spent a year in public school. And I don’t know how to help her anymore. Her grammatical structuring is so bad that computer programs designed for dyslexics cannot help her. Her content however, is college level thinking. This has been such a tough journey for us both. Does anyone have suggestions?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Liz,
I am so sorry your daughter is still struggling after all you have done.

The good news about college is that they tend to be much more receptive to addressing students’ learning disabilities than many high schools. Each college will have an office or department specifically concerned with learning disabilities. What it is called varies from school to school, but if you go to the school’s website and search for learning disability you will find the office’s page.

That office will be able to tell you what is needed to prove her disability for accommodations at their specific school. The diagnosis and evaluations you have already done will most likely qualify. Then your daughter would work with that office to determine what accommodations would most benefit her in her classes.

When you mention that her grammatical structuring doesn’t allow her to use computer programs designed for dyslexics, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean a speech-to-text option that allows someone to speak and the program types it for her doesn’t work correctly? I’m not sure what she is experiencing in, so I’m unsure what suggestions to offer.

I hope this helps some, but I would be happy to help further. Please let me know.

Lisa

says:

My son is in grade 6 (11 years old). After pushing at the school last year to have some testing done he has been diagnosed with dysgraphia. He is a very intelligent boy who soaks up so much information and general knowledge as well as having a very vivid imagination and advanced vocabulary. Whilst things were put into place last year to allow him to use things such as Talk to text I find this year he is a little more conscious of the fact that he does things differently and does not use his resources as well as he should. I worry about him going into secondary school next year and him getting lost in the system a bit. We have chosen a very nurturing school but peer pressure and wanting to fit in is a real concern. Any ideas

Ronald

says:

My little girl is struggling flipping letters and numbers and putting words in right place she is. 9

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ronald,
I’m sorry your little girl is struggling with this. We have a How to Solve Letter Reversals blog post I think you will find helpful. The tips in it work equally well for numbers.

Please let me know if you need more information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I’m sorry your son is struggling so. It is good that he has a diagnosis and access to accommodations like speech-to-text software.

Not wanting to draw attention to our weaknesses is very much human nature. It is understandable. However, being successful in school is very important! I think this would be something to discuss with his teachers. It seems to me they may have seen things like this before and you would need to work with them to help encourage your son to use his resources. And the encouragement may need to be in the form of discouraging him from not using his resources, such as requiring him to repeat the work if he doesn’t use them and the work doesn’t meet standards.

I hope you find what your son needs to be successful. This is a difficult age made more difficult with a learning difference.

Sibabrata Das

says:

Hi my son is grade 4. And I think he is not writing and reading properly. hardly shoes any interest of writing even after many several request. Can you please guide me how to deal with this in India I stay in Mumbai.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sibabrata,
I’m so sorry your son is struggling. I think you will find our 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner blog post helpful. Let me know if you have specific questions or need more information.

SABARI MP

says:

My son having 5 years old .studying in UKG .
He learning very fast but very difficult in writing ….
/ nil in writing skills . I think he can’t understand the technique.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like your son is having a hard time, Sabrari. I’m so sorry he is struggling.

Five years old is still very young; most children that age are still learning how to write one letter at a time. We have a blog post on Top 10 Activities for Letter Knowledge that may help you to teach him how to write letters. Only once he can write letters easily will he be ready to write words.

I hope this helps. We have other free resources you may find helpful as well.

Gabriella Jochums

says:

Great post!

Tara

says:

Hi

How do I see if my son has this, he is 12 and after reading this article the issues he has points to this

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tara,
You can request for your son to be tested for dyslexia through your local school or your son’s physician can provide referrals for testing. You can also find more information on it at Understood.org, a website specifically about learning disabilities.

Stephanie Williams

says:

Have you heard of the mind eye institute ? I called and talked to your husband quite a while back. It is so wonderful you are helping others. I took my son to the mind eye institute. It is amazing! Dr. Z believes that if the eyes and ears are not in sync it can cause so many problems. People with add, adhd, autism, brain injuries and more are getting help. Thank God for this place. I know the Lord showed me this place. I prayed and prayed for years and we were just feeling done, like he would just need to learn at home and I had been talking to Jesus about it and I stumbled across it on the internet. I thought of the conversation I had with your husband and wanted to tell you about the place. It truly is amazing and gift from God. Thank you for all your help full advice and tips.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. I hope your son finds the help he needs.

mary

says:

Hi, My 5-year-old who has started school in January has little to no handwriting skills or reading skills We had some testing done with a psychologist and they noted that she might be dysgraphia, dyslexic or both and we need to keep an eye on it. How do I know if she has either and how to best help her?
She knows how to write her name but nothing else, despite us trying hard to teacher her the alphabet. Her drawing is also very limited.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
It will take further testing and evaluation to confirm a diagnosis of dyslexia, dysgraphia, or both. However, you can proceed as if she has both as the only risk of doing so will be that she gets some extra help. Since she needs extra help, that isn’t really a risk.

Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is a proven approach for helping students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. It’s also the approach that the International Dyslexia Association recommends. The author of AAR and AAS, Marie Rippel, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and has instructed graduate-level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She is also a member of Pro Literacy, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Literary Task Force in Wisconsin, and tutored students for more than 20 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out (they were told he would never read). It’s an amazing, heart touching story!

You might like to visit our Dyslexia Resources Page.

Here are some ways that All About Reading can help kids with learning difficulties:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

– Incremental lessons. AAR breaks every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teaches the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one the student has already mastered.

– AAR is multisensory. Research has shown that when a child is taught through all three pathways at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

– AAR uses specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the All About Reading letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

– AAR is scripted, so you can concentrate on your child. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

– AAR has built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning difficulties generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR, your child will have a Reading Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that your child needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that your child already knows.

– AAR has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so children can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

All About Reading has a “Go Ahead and Use It!” money-back one-year guarantee. You can try it, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions, need help with placement, or anything else.

Rita Hanchey

says:

I have a 7th grade who is dysgraphia and dyslexic. He is a very smart boy and you can see that when you speak with him, but his written work does not reflect that. Can this program help a kiddo in his grade?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rita,
Yes, All About Spelling has been used very successfully for teens and even adults. AAS has a gradual progression for increasing the student’s stamina and fluency in writing, from words and short phrases in Level 1, to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3. Partway through this level, the Writing Station is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using a short list of words they are given.

In this way, students begin to use words in a more real-world context through dictation and writing, to help them transition to longer writing assignments. Dictation and the Writing Station both serve as an important bridge between spelling words in the context of lists (where the patterns are similar), and more “real world” writing.

I think you will find our blog post Using All About Spelling with Older Students helpful.

Let me know if you have additional questions or need anything.

Erin

says:

This is really helpful. I’ve wondered about this for one of my kids. thanks. Any more tips for older kids?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erin,
My best tip for older students with dysgraphia is using voice dictation in software like Word and Google Docs. The voice dictation option is standard in these and other software programs.

Liz

says:

My son was diagnosed at age 9 with dyslexia and ADHD, in addition I also believe he has dysgraphia as he has all these symptoms. I’m curious how dysgraphia affects learning spelling and grammar rules- can you expand on that? We have used compensations and I’ve added remediation which has helped but he stills struggles with writing, he’s 12 now, but as for spelling- I feel as though he easily can memorize and recall the spelling rules but not apply them well. We’ve used AAR1-3 and AAS level 1 and 2 (currently half way through). His reading has really taken off this last year so I paused on using AAR 4 to focus on AAS. I haven’t considered that the dysgraphia may have an effect somehow?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Liz,
It can be hard to know how dysgraphia is affecting things versus his other learning disabilities. One thing I have seen with dysgraphia is that the student can spell with the tiles or orally, but then struggles with the same words written. But with already having a diagnosis of dyslexia, it is likely spelling will be difficult no matter how it is done.

It takes lots of practice and review for students with dyslexia to start applying rules automatically in their spelling. And when you think they have it down well, you will find they forget it all over again. It is a part of teaching children with learning disabilities. Consistency is the most important thing for progress, but it can be very slow.

As for how dysgraphia affects spelling and grammar, I can’t really say. I just know that students with dysgraphia find the physical act of writing, all aspects of it including spelling and grammar, much more difficult than expected for their age.

I hope this helps some. I’m sorry I’m unable to answer your question fully.

Carole

says:

Please help. My son is diagnosed dyslexia and still can hardly read nor write and is aged twelve in July. I’m desperate

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carole,
I’m happy to help.

Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is a proven approach for helping students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. It’s also the approach that the International Dyslexia Association recommends. The author of AAR and AAS, Marie Rippel, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and has instructed graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She is also a member of Pro Literacy, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Literary Task Force in Wisconsin, and tutored students for more than 20 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out (they were told he would never read). Quite amazing!

You might like to visit our Dyslexia Resources Page.

Here are some ways that All About Reading and All About Spelling can help kids with learning difficulties:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit and will include 3 simple steps: the review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

– Incremental lessons. AAR and AAS break every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teach the lessons in a logical order, carrying students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on what the student has already mastered.

– AAR and AAS are multisensory. Research has shown that when a student is taught through all three pathways at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

– AAR and AAS use specially color-coded letter tiles or letter tile app. Working with the letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

– AAR and AAS are scripted so you can concentrate on your student. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

– AAR and AAS have built-in review in every lesson. Students with learning difficulties generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR and AAS, your student will have a Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that he needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that he already knows.

– All About Reading has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so students can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

– All About Spelling has a gradual progression for increasing the student’s stamina and fluency in writing, from words and short phrases in Level 1, to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3. Partway through Level 3, the Writing Station activity is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using some of their spelling words. In this way students have begun to use words in a more real-world context through dictation and writing, to help them transition to longer writing assignments.

All About Reading and All About Spelling have a one-year guarantee. You can try them, and if for any reason you feel that they aren’t the right match for your student, return them for a full refund.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Jessica Daugherty

says:

Any tips for high school students? My son (14) has always struggled and accommodations and handwriting practice have been little or no help. It’s now at the point where his work requires more than he can get onto paper let alone legibly. He’s a very bright kid, but his dysgraphia is overshadowing that.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Modern assistive technology will enable him to meet assignments. Many programs, including Word and Google Docs, allow for voice dictation to write papers. At this point, it is important for accommodations to move from handwriting to answers and papers done on a computer and printed. There are even “note” apps that can do voice dictation from a phone.

Jacquie Forrer

says:

Any tips for older learners? My daughter has beautiful handwriting but due to major speech delays she greatly struggles forming thoughts into sentences. We do a lot orally and then she copies it down But I know she needs to be able to write a paper at some point. I can’t always be there to help

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jacquie,
Consider taking advantage of the great assistive technology readily available now. Most document software, such as Word and Google Docs, have voice dictation options. She can speak her papers into the computer and have her paper come out. The technology isn’t perfect still, but my teens write most of their papers this way as it is faster than the slow speed they type.

Sandra

says:

My 13yr old son in 7th grade repeats the same sentence over and over and over regardless of the question, regardless of the assignment or subject. An example would be “ they were helping them and they are moving and moved”
but if you ask him to read it and ask what it means he says he doesn’t know. I was helping him with his assignments today ( remote schooling due to Covid 19) When you ask him the question he can give you the answer verbally but when he writes it down the same sentence appears over and over again.
I would appreciate any advice.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m not sure what help I can offer, Sandra. I’m not familiar with this symptom of writing the same sentence over and over and I’m not finding much about it. Is your son aware that he has written the same sentence more than once? If yes, does he have a reason for doing so? He is old enough to be able to offer his own insights into his learning difficulties.

Other than that, I recommend submitting a formal request to his school, when it resumes, for evaluation. You may also consider private testing. His doctor should be able to direct you with a referral. Once you know what is the cause of this, you can start working on helping him overcome it.

In the meantime, I highly recommend doing as much work orally as you can, even serving as your son’s scribe if necessary. You can also take advantage of speech-to-text options on devices. Most word processing programs, like Microsoft Word and Google Docs, have “voice dictation” options that work pretty well. You can still work on his ability to write, but separate it from other learning. Try to find the level of writing or type of writing he can have success with and then slowly build from there.

I hope this helps some. I am sorry I don’t have much to offer.

Dorothy

says:

Hello my daughter is struggling with reading and spelling. She takes long to complete her work and she will always ask spelling of many words. It’s like she’s douting herself so i wonder at School maybe she’s even shy to speak out. I’m afraid how is she going to focus when she will be in grade 8 next year. Please assist I tried getting her an aftercare but still I don’t know what can i do now. I really want to see her excel

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so sorry that your daughter is struggling, Dorothy.

When older students like your daughter are struggling like this, it is usually because they are missing foundational skills and abilities. Without mastering the basic skills that allow for success in reading and spelling, students will struggle.

You can begin by looking through our placements tests and seeing how your daughter does. The good news is even if she needs to start at the beginning, our programs are designed to allow students to move through them as quickly as they are able. Our blog post Using All About Spelling with Older Students shows you how you may fast track through easy words while ensuring she has mastered the foundational concepts and skills.

Please let me know if you need more information or have questions about placement or anything else.

Melusha

says:

This article is very helpful for my daughter.Thank u very much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Melusha. Let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Wendy Mtuwaphi

says:

Please help my 13 year old boy is struggling at school. He can’t wright or read and he’s on grade 4. He keeps on failing because of that

Sara

says:

Wendy, please contact your school and ask for your student to be evaluated for any learning disabilities. If there is another parent at the school who has gone through the process, the may be able to help guide you for your particular school district. He needs help, especially if he has not been identified by the school district for services by age 13 and continues to struggle each school year. All About Spelling and All About Reading are great programs to use at home but you should also definitely seek out support from your school.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wendy,
I’m so sorry your son is struggling.

All About Reading is designed to take the struggle out of reading! It is a research-based, “no gaps” approach. It is easy to do at home without special training or previous experience.

Please let me know if you have questions, need help with placement, or your son has specific struggles you would like more information about.

Lin Sacke

says:

My child cannot complete spelling tests, writing homwork in his diary. Today he wrote not one word in a 20 mark spelling test. I am devastated. He knows the words but cant write them down. What are we to do. He is 8 years old and cant carry on like this at school. Help help help. He has to get an education! Also does letter reversals and rubs out constantly which wastes time. He is quite cleve but test results are demoralising.

Hashmatunnisa

says:

My 7 and half year son is very quick in memorising and learning spelling ,but he doesn’t like to write much…
He always confused in ‘d’ and ‘b’ and 9 and P
Even he is best in orals ,. But when same thing when he is asked to give in written test he struggles a lot and only write main words e.g. Umar was running.
Although he knows this sentence in oral
In written he will mostly write ‘umar running’
I am unable to tackle the problem please help me soon

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hashmatunnisa,
It can be so difficult for some children to take what they know and put it on paper.

I think you may find our blog post How to Solve Letter Reversals helpful. Many children confuse b and d and other letters and numbers. We have a lot of ideas and tips in that blog post and in the comments of that post that will help you help your son.

In these sorts of difficulties, it can take daily practice and time for a student’s written work to match what he is capable of orally. Seven years old is still very young. He has lots of time to become a proficient writer. I hope this helps some. Let me know if you have any questions or need more information.

Brenda lybron

says:

My son is 6yrs old now.at 4yrs l thought he’s autistic bse he wasn’t speaking uptonow he’s not speaking well.he’s speaking few words but he’s very good in typing on phones very well good work but he doesn’t want to write in books.pse l need help.am from Africa Uganda.thanx.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
Writing by hand can be difficult for young children; it uses muscles, skills, and strength they often don’t have. You can build up his ability to write on paper in playful ways. Have him use a stick, or his finger, to write in the dirt or sand. You can fill a tray with salt or other substance and have him write it in. Kneading, playing, and making things with dough and clay builds strength. Writing big, such as with chalk on cement or a chalkboard, is often easier and more fun.

You can also build his endurance for writing on paper slowly. Start with one word. His name is a great place to start. Have him write just that one word once a day on paper. Once you see it become easier for him, add a second word. In just a few weeks he should be up to writing short sentences and not thinking it’s too hard. Don’t go too far, however. Most children aren’t ready to write more than a few sentences at a time until they are much older.

I hope this helps some. Please let me know if you need more ideas or have questions.

Cher montanye

says:

My daughter suffered a stroke at birth. She is now in college and suffering from dysgraphia. I am wondering about the difference between agraphia and dysgraphia? Could she have both? The school seems to be grading her disability and accommodations don’t seem to help. How do we overcome the term paper issue? She is failing because of this issue.

Merry

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your daughter is struggling, Cher. Does she use any kind of assistive technology for writing term papers (something that allows her to dictate the bulk of her paper to a computer or other device that types it for her)? That would be something to look into. You and she may want to look into whether further accommodations could be helpful–I would talk with disability services together with her at the school to find out what kinds of things are available (such as an in-class note-taker, or the ability to record lectures if needed, accommodations for essay tests etc…). Brainstorm the types of things that could help–it never hurts to ask what’s possible! If she has a diagnosis of dysgraphia or agraphia, it’s worth digging into this further.

Sharon

says:

My son is in 6th grade. A majority of his class grades are based on handwritten notes done in class. We took him to an OT last year and his handwriting is remarkably better…but he struggles to write down in his notebooks more than key words and so is getting Fs and Ds on notebook assignments–and then this content makes it hard for him to study for tests from his notes. Yet on computerized/standardized tests he scores in the top 5% for reading, writing, math. We are struggling with how to proceed as dysgraphia doesn’t seem to be recognized as an official learning issue that can garner support. (When he types, his writing is quite good.)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
I’m so sorry your son is struggling and not receiving the help he needs in class on this.

Have you spoken with his teacher and school counselor? You can request the school evaluate him and get him an IEP in regard to his handwriting. While they may not recognize the name dysgraphia, they can and should recognize that handwriting disabilities do exist. Sadly, in some school districts, you may have to push and be the squeaky wheel to get the help he needs.

It might be worthwhile to look into other school options as well, as I have not heard of students being graded on in-class notetaking before. Other schools are likely to not have that. It seems odd to me that a large portion of a class grade would be based on that. Shouldn’t mastery of the material be more important than how well you write down what the teacher says? I’ve known students that take beautiful, very comprehensive notes still do poorly when asked to apply the information and I’ve known students that never take notes be the top of their class.

I hope you find a way to help your son. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.

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