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Writing & Spelling

Many kids find it hard to express their thoughts in writing, and some find it difficult to hold a pencil. If your child avoids writing, check these questions for some useful ways to get the words flowing.

Click below for answers to the following writing and spelling questions:

Question 1: My daughter has a learning disability. What strategies can I use to help her through the writing process?
Question 2: What should I do for my child who has an IEP but still has trouble with handwriting, taking notes, and writing at an appropriate speed?
Question 3: How can I help my preschooler with her writing skills?
Question 4: My daughter just started preschool and I have noticed that sometimes she writes letters backwards. Should I be concerned?
Question 5: I'm concerned that my kindergartener is not progressing with reading and writing at the rate of her classmates. We try to sit her down to practice sight words, but she loses interest and doesn't remember them the next day. How can I help her?
Question 6: My daughter cannot organize her writing at all. She becomes frustrated beyond belief when she tries to put her ideas on paper. Can you give me a list of suggested technologies?
Question 7: My son is going into 11th grade. He has a learning disability with a very "hands on" learning style. However, he cannot write to save his life, take notes, etc. What computer programs do you recommend? What laptops would you recommend?

Question:

My daughter has a learning disability. What strategies can I use to help her through the writing process?

Answer:

The following articles from LD OnLine have information about writing and learning disabilities:

Graphic organizers allow writers to collect their thoughts on paper or screen before starting the writing process. Using these organizers can reduce some of the stress and uncertainty involved in the writing process by providing a core structure that serves as a guideline.

Similarly, assistive technology can be a tremendously useful aid for students with LD. These articles have more information:

Consult with your daughter's teachers and ask for suggestions. They may have classroom strategies that you can adapt for use at home.


Question:

What should I do for my child who has an IEP but still has trouble with handwriting, taking notes, and writing at an appropriate speed?

Answer:

The following articles describe some typical characteristics of students who struggle with the physical act of writing:

If you see some of your child’s struggles described in these articles, you may want to call an IEP meeting to share your concerns. At this time, you and the other members of the IEP team can discuss whether the goals, objectives, accommodations, modifications, and types and level of services your child is receiving are meeting his needs in the area of writing. This would also be a good time to discuss whether your child’s writing challenges are most likely related to the disability label under which he has an IEP or if further evaluation is warranted to get a clearer picture of why writing is such a struggle for him.

Regardless of the cause of your child’s writing difficulties, he may experience greater success, confidence, stamina, and productivity by using a computer, software that aids in the writing process, and other relevant assistive technology. You and the rest of the IEP team should discuss the possibility of incorporating keyboarding skills and technological tools in your child’s IEP as goals, objectives, and accommodations in his everyday academic experience.

The sooner your child’s writing challenges can be systematically addressed, the more likely he will be to reach his true potential in writing.


Question:

How can I help my preschooler with her writing skills?

Answer:

The following articles will give you an idea of the types of skills that very young children should be demonstrating:

Incorporating reading and writing into everyday fun activities, such as reading a recipe and baking together, writing a grocery list, and sending notes to each other, is one of the best ways parents can help develop pre-literacy skills in their very young children. Allow your preschooler to scribble letters without correction, use letter magnets and stamps, and take dictation while she tells you her ideas. In this way, she will discover the joy, power, and practicality of literacy and will be inspired to learn more as she is ready.

The following articles may give you ideas of ways to encourage your child’s writing skills in playful, fun, and developmentally appropriate ways:

One of the most valuable gifts that you can give your child is to instill in her a love of reading and writing and a genuine curiosity and desire to learn. She will take this gift with her throughout her lifetime.


Question:

My daughter just started preschool and I have noticed that sometimes she writes letters backwards. Should I be concerned?

Answer:

Writing letters backwards is a normal part of developing writing skills in preschool. If you have other reasons to suspect dyslexia (like parents or relatives with dyslexia, or problems identifying sounds or learning to say the alphabet), you should continue to monitor her progress and document your observations in case you see signs of a bigger problem.

Keep practicing with her by doing fun writing activities at home, like writing a shopping list, or writing a letter to a relative. Most of her early mistakes will be part of the process of learning to write, so model the right way, but don't hold her to it too early! She is in an experimentation phase with this skill.

The Reading Rockets website has articles that may be of interest to you as you help your child learn to read, including sections on writing and developmental milestones.



Question:

I'm concerned that my kindergartener is not progressing with reading and writing at the rate of her classmates. We try to sit her down to practice sight words, but she loses interest and doesn't remember them the next day. How can I help her?

Answer:

The following articles will give you an idea of the types of skills that your child should be demonstrating at her age:

A disinterest in learning sight words is most likely due to the fact that she is not developmentally ready yet. You may want to hold off practicing sight words for a little while and instead focus on incorporating reading and writing into the everyday fun activities that you share, such as reading a recipe and baking together, writing a grocery list, and sending notes to each other and other family members.

Allow her to scribble letters without correction and use letter magnets and stamps. Take dictation while she tells you her ideas. In this way, she will discover the joy, power and practicality of literacy and will be inspired to learn more as she is ready, rather than getting bogged down in the mechanics of reading and writing.

Many children want their home to be a more relaxed place with less explicit instruction than a typical school setting. This doesn't mean that real learning can't take place at home, but it can be presented in a way that is playful and fun for both of you.

The following articles may give you ideas of ways that you can encourage your daughter to improve her literacy skills while taking some of the pressure off both of you:

One of the most valuable gifts you can give your daughter is to instill in her a love of reading and writing and a genuine curiosity and desire to learn. She will take this gift with her throughout her lifetime.


Question:

My daughter cannot organize her writing at all. She becomes frustrated beyond belief when she tries to put her ideas on paper. Can you give me a list of suggested technologies?

Answer:

Your daughter's challenges echo those of many struggling writers, and while there are no quick and easy fixes, there are technology resources that can help. Tools known as "graphic organizers" may be particularly useful to your daughter as she works to get her ideas on paper in a coherent manner. These tools help students generate and organize their ideas through building visual relationships among them. Graphic organizers can be as low tech as an arrangement of sticky notes on a sheet of paper or as high tech as online, interactive tools like bubbl.us, a free website which allows you to create and share colorful mind maps, and ReadWriteThink's Essay Map, a free step-by-step guide to organizing essay content. View this list of graphic organizer sites for more free options. More complex software solutions, like Draft:Builder or Inspiration, have features that help students arrange their ideas, create an outline, and transition from an outline or concept map into a draft. This customized matrix from the www.TechMatrix.org shows many software solutions that use graphic organizers to support writing. Compare products' features, and click on a product's name in the column header to see a full review of its capabilities and purchasing information.

Question:

My son is going into 11th grade. He has a learning disability with a very "hands on" learning style. However, he cannot write to save his life, take notes, etc. What computer programs do you recommend? What laptops would you recommend?

Answer:

An expanding array of technological devices provides new options for minimizing the writing difficulties experienced by students with learning disabilities. Programs and devices, such as talking word processors, word prediction programs, child-friendly voice recognition, and portable note-taking devices may assist your son with his writing.

Tech Tools for Students with Learning Disabilities: Infusion into Inclusive Classrooms will provide you with detailed information on each of these options.

Using Assistive Technology to Support Writing is another valuable resource that can assist you in selecting the best technologies to meet the needs of your son and may be worth sharing with his teachers to ensure that he has the support he needs in the classroom.

In October, check out the Tech Matrix, which will launch a new free online resource on writing products, reviewed for accessibility and instructional features. Related research on the use of technology for students with special needs will also be included with this tool to inform your decision on the best programs to provide support to meet your son's needs.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss