Messy writing?  Printing problems?

Here are just a few of the common reasons for messy printing or handwriting, in no particular order.

  1. Many kids with messy writing can’t follow straight lines with their eyes, can’t see diagonal lines properly, or can’t discriminate differences in size and shape.  This may be because of astigmatism (the eye is not perfectly round).  If combined with reading problems it is probably because the child is not using the Visual Word Form Area on the left side of the brain.  Our assessment will determine if this is the likely cause and what the best solution would be for training your child to print and/or write well.
  2. Many kids with messy writing are actually drawing the letters rather than “printing” them.
  3. If your child isn’t confident with his or her knowledge of the alphabet, printing can be just as foreign as the alphabet itself.
  4. Some kids don’t understand that a letter can have a variety of shapes depending on the font. They are attempting to make every letter contain all the attributes they’ve ever seen associated with that letter.  They lack a thorough knowledge of letter formation resulting in messy writing.  Our assessment includes a number of opportunities for us to observe how your child prints numbers and letter.  In just a few one-on-one sessions we can teach your child correct letter and number formation.
  5. Some are impulsive, in too much of a hurry.  Fast ForWord, Interactive Metronome, and PACE are all great at breaking a child of impulsiveness by training attention and the art of waiting.
  6. Doesn’t know the correct way to print the letters. This breaks my heart because almost every child we assess (struggling students) doesn’t form their letters correctly.  By the time we get them, the way they are forming their letters is their habit.  The only way to break a bad habit is by replacing it with a good habit and that requires very close supervision until the new habit is developed.  We do this with about 100 children every year.  Call us at (604) 539-1386 to book an assessment or to discuss how we might be able to help your child.
  7. Masking a spelling problem. Many kids that we see are actually trying to hide the fact that they don’t know how to spell. They will make “a” and “u” very similar in order to hide that the correct spelling isn’t known.  Spelling problems are usually combined with reading problems.  Fast ForWord, PACE, and our one-on-one reading program are the best ways to overcome reading, spelling, and writing problems.
  8. Auditory processing deficits. Kids who lack phonemic awareness can’t hear the individual sounds very well. Most of the kids we work with can’t differentiate between the soft/short sounds for: “a” and “u” – “e” and “i”  or “m” and “n” – “b” and “d” – so they make the letter look like it could be either option.  They don’t know what letter it should be because cap and cup sound the same, three and free sound the same–so how is a person to know how to spell it except through memorization?  (If your child frequently mispronounces (three = fwee) chances are there are auditory processing deficits which could be corrected in a few months.)  We test this in our assessment, so call today!
  9. The child is attempting to keep up with his or her thoughts and so is writing too fast physically, but not fast enough mentally.  Your child needs to learn cursive.  It is much faster! But it is no longer taught in most schools.  Read: Cursive Becoming Obsolete?
  10. Completely overwhelmed cognitive/processing systems. Is too busy thinking of the words to use, how they are spelled, and how they are positioned on the page, to pay attention to the look of the letters.
  11. Trying to mask the poor writing job. Child subconsciously thinks, “It’s better if no one can read it than if they can read how terrible it is.”
  12. Disorganized thoughts.
  13. Not motivated to print neater.  At Accomplished Learning Centre, when we teach kids to print and write, we also help them understand why it is so important.  Did you know that if reading a student’s paper is too difficult, most teachers won’t bother.  They’ll slap on a C or C- and call it a day whereas they will gladly read a presentable paper and give it a higher mark.  Presentation is important.
  14. Motor skill problems.  I’ve taught many children with motor skill problems to print and write well.  Even kids that Occupational Therapists have written off, saying they would never be able to print or write.  It’s a skill and it can be taught!

Personal insight. As a child I spent many hours practicing my printing and handwriting. I hated it! And it never got any better until one amazing day. At age 22, I was working as an accountant. This was the early 1980’s so everything was done manually, not on computer. It took me hours longer than it should to add long columns of numbers–because I couldn’t read what I had written! I had to go back and look in files to find out what an amount was. Within a few days on the job my handwriting changed. I’ve learned that, in the long run, it actually saves time to write slowly and legibly.

happy girlWe’ve seen amazing handwriting and printing improvements with our programs–often without actually working on handwriting or printing. As the cognitive and processing abilities improve, so does the handwriting.  I think it’s because the child is thinking so much more clearly and his or her thoughts are so much more organized. Bad handwriting and printing are usually just symptoms of a larger problem.  But if it’s just lack of adequate training, we can do that too.

What is going on with your child? Isn’t it time to find out? Learn about our assessments or call (604) 539-1386 to discuss your child’s struggles in school and how we can help.

When penmanship is easier, school is easier!