Tips to Help Kids with Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia can be a frustrating challenge for both the students, who are trying to overcome their struggle to write, and for their parents, who don’t know how they can help. Dysgraphia is a specific set of writing challenges that impact writing skills like handwriting, typing, and spelling. Dysgraphia often accompanies dyslexia as well as autism or ADHD, but dysgraphia is distinct and can occur alone.

Teachers and parents may struggle to understand and support students with dysgraphia. As adults, we may only have distant memories of learning how to write and spell. In addition, the ways we were taught handwriting, typing, and spelling skills are often different from those in use today.

But there are fun and effective ways we can support kids with dysgraphia. Check out this Understood.org post for a list of easy-to-do activities from handwriting experts. Here are a few of my favorites from the article:

Feel the letters.

Taking away one sense experience often heightens the others. Experts advise trying activities that help your kid focus on feeling—not seeing—how a letter is made.

For example, use your finger to trace a letter on your child’s back. Or he can close his eyes while you trace a letter on his palm. Then see if he can reproduce that letter on your back or on a piece of paper.

Write big.

Kids with dysgraphia usually have trouble remembering how to form letters correctly. One way therapists make the process more memorable is by having kids write in ways that use large motor movements and multisensory materials.

At home, young kids can spray big shaving cream letters on the tile wall at bath time. Or they can smooth out the cream on the tile and write letters in the foam. They can practice making letters in a plastic tub of damp sand. Adding sand to finger paint is another way to increase sensory input.

Dig into clay.

Clay is a wonderfully versatile medium. It’s dense and responsive. And mistakes can disappear with just a pinch.

Roll clay into ropes and practice making letters with your child. It builds hand strength and boosts fine motor skills. And it reinforces the shapes of letters in his mind, too.

Another option: Smooth a layer of clay on a cookie sheet. Then invite your child to etch letters into the surface with a pencil.

These strategies help students interact with letters and writing in engaging ways, making it fun to work with letters. Students with dysgraphia often dread picking up a pen or pencil, so using clay or shaving cream can bypass some of those negative associations.

Do you know of other strategies parents can use to help their kids with dysgraphia? Let us know in the comments!

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager