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Handwriting – without doing handwriting!

Despite the digital age we are in, most writing tasks in primary schools are performed on paper, with a pen or pencil. Handwriting still forms an integral part of our education system, which means children who are unable to write quickly and legibly are at a disadvantage. Alfie, age 10, talks about how he struggles with handwriting but also, how he is improving his skills.

Posted on Friday 19th January 2018

Handwriting skills - dyspraxia

My name is Alfie, I am ten years old and in year five. The photograph is of me and Harry my dog – he’s a Labradoodle. There are lots of things that I am good at such as: thinking of brilliant ideas for writing, netball, making people smile and playing games on my X-Box. Handwriting is quite tricky for me as I have dyspraxia. This means that my hands don’t always do what my brain tells them too. They have a mind of their own. I have hypermobile joints in my hands too. This means that my knuckles crack and my fingers can make strange positions. Handwriting hurts me lots in my fingers and wrists and I get tired quickly. Even though I have a pen grip and writing slope that work for me, it is just challenging! I write slower which means that I don’t get as much done on a brilliant idea as I thought I had and that idea doesn’t feel so brilliant then! I would rather use a laptop rather than write by hand as it doesn’t feel good.

I had a chance to try out Writing Explorers, at first I didn’t want to do it as I thought it would be more handwriting. Why would you do something you don’t enjoy? But when I started, I realised it wasn’t handwriting, it was dot-to-dots, patterns, puzzles, pictures, challenges and lots of other things more fun than writing. This is clever as Writing Explorers tricks you to improve your skills without actually writing. It is more interesting as it is set in a time travelling world with dinosaurs, which is very boy friendly. This six-week program is way more fun than any other writing program I have tried and yes, it is six weeks long, but it is short, fun and busy – not boring and repetitive.

One of the things that really helped me was looking carefully at my handwriting to see what worked well and what needed to improve. What was good about this was that I realised that it isn’t all of my letters that are wrong – just some of them need a few tweaks. So, actually, my handwriting isn’t as bad as I thought. I could then focus on the bits that I needed to do and not all of it!

After Writing Explorers I feel much more comfortable when I write. There is less pain and I have a happier pen grip. I also sit up straighter now. I still use my laptop, but when I have to write I am much happier about it! I think Writing Explorers is something that many children will enjoy and benefit from. It worked for me!

With thanks to Alfie and Beccie (Alfie’s mum).

Beccie (also known as Mrs Hawes) is Head of Service with Rushall Inclusion Advisory Team. Beccie’s team works with a number of different schools offering support, advice and challenge regarding all aspects of inclusive policy, practice and procedure.

Beccie says, “Along with the day job, I also have the pleasure and privilege of being Alfie’s mum! Alfie has been working really hard with our local Occupational Therapy team and is currently undergoing diagnostic processes for Developmental Coordination Delay and an Autism Spectrum Condition. His resources have certainly made a big difference to him and he is keen to share his experiences so that others can be helped too.”

Alfie’s three magic resources