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A pencil grip fits over the pencil to position the thumb, index and middle finger correctly. Grasping the pencil properly lets your child write more neatly and more quickly without her hand muscles getting so tired. There are many types of pencil grips, so it’s important to know what your child’s specific needs are. If she wraps her thumb around her index finger, for instance, there’s one with built-in guards. The guards may make it easier for her fingers to remain in the correct position.
You can find pencil grips at office supply stores, but they may not provide enough finger support for kids with dysgraphia. To find the right pencil grip for your child, you may need to look in online catalogs aimed at occupational therapists.
Writing on a slanted surface allows your child’s wrist to extend while the fingers flex and naturally fall into a better writing position. Instead of using a slant board, your child can use a three-inch three-ring binder turned sideways. A rubber band can keep papers from slipping off.
This paper has a rough surface along the lines to provide tactile cues that can help your child stay within the lines. The physical “bump” gives her sensory information on how big to make the letters.
The lower half of the writing area (below the dotted line) is highlighted, indicating how high the lowercase letters should go. This can help kids learn how to form letters of the correct size. You can order the paper from a catalog in a variety of colors. Or you can make your own with a highlighter.
A graphic organizer is a visual way of breaking writing projects down into smaller steps. It lets your child note key details for almost any kind of writing assignment without worrying about paragraphs, topic sentences or transitions. As she brainstorms, she can jot down ideas in the visual framework. Then, when she goes to write, she’ll have a starting point.
Graphic organizers come in many types. They can look like a Venn diagram, a flow chart or an ice cream cone (for younger kids). You can find many free templates online.
Handwriting Without Tears
This writing program gives explicit instruction on how to form letters using multisensory strategies. Letters are grouped by similar strokes using top-to-bottom, left-to-right sequencing. For example, kids learn the six “magic c” letters (c, a, d, g, q, o) as a group. That way they get lots of practice doing the same beginning movement, which builds muscle memory.
This iPad app for beginning writers comes from Handwriting Without Tears. Kids use their fingers to practice forming letters and numbers on the screen. When your child is ready, she can switch to using a stylus.
With Wet-Dry-Try your child can use a virtual slate chalkboard for writing capital and lowercase letters and numbers. The app also has personalized audio coaching. An Android version of the app is currently in development.
Apps to Make Worksheets Less Tedious
There are a number of free iPad apps that let kids complete paper worksheets on a tablet. Two examples are PaperPort Notes and SnapType (developed by an occupational therapist).
Here’s how these apps work: Your child takes a photo of her worksheet. She taps on the screen where she wants to add text and types in her answers. If the worksheet is multiple choice or fill-in-the blank, she can use her finger to write in words or circle the answer. When she’s finished, she can print out the photo of the worksheet.
Android users can try Samsung Galaxy Note5, which allows you to do similar things. You can upload an image of a worksheet from your camera roll and then, using a text box, write on it with your finger or a stylus.