Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Struggling to Write Those Ideas on Paper?

In today's world, it is more important than ever to be able to organize thoughts and get them down on paper or screen. Offline and online media is everywhere, and if we want to be "heard" by others, we need to be able to express and convey those thoughts WELL.

Being able to express oneself is a unique skill and even a gift for some individuals. When you encourage and cultivate this capability in your child or student, you give her the invaluable power to meaningfully share her thoughts and ideas with the world. To help her get started, you might find the following 5 steps (adapted from teacher-writer Karen Dikson) beneficial in organizing thoughts and beginning to get those ideas down on paper or screen:

5 Basic Steps to Writing Success

1. Practice, practice, practice!
2. Find examples of good writing!
3. Use Pinterest or graphic organizers to organize ideas & resources!
4. Brainstorm and plan what to write.
5. Use a tablet to get ideas down faster and more efficiently.

When Dysgraphia Adds to the Writing Challenge

There can often be an additional component for some children or teens when it is time to express their ideas and get them down on paper or screen. This component makes writing nearly impossible for a significant number of individuals. It is called dysgraphia, a handwriting challenge characterized chiefly by very poor or often illegible writing or writing that takes an unusually long time and great effort to complete. When present in children, dysgraphia is classified as a learning disability. When it occurs as an acquired condition in adults, it can sometimes be the result of damage to the brain (as from stroke or trauma).

When a person of any age or ability struggles with dysgraphia, writing takes far longer (if it can be produced at all) to complete. As a result, dysgraphia all too often negatively impacts learning success and self-esteem. To provide support for an individual with dysgraphia, keep in mind that technology can go a long way to help. A laptop or tablet device will take pressure off the proper formation of hand-written phrases and sentences, allowing the individual to focus on his ideas instead. A digital app, mp3 player or other recording device can be just the thing to free a "great thinker" and finally enable the expression of wonderful, innovative ideas. In addition, consider the following strategies from the Learning Disabilities Association of America to help someone you know challenged with dysgraphia:

Helpful Strategies for Dysgraphia

1. Suggest use of word processor
2. Avoid chastising student for sloppy, careless work
3. Use oral exams
4. Allow use of tape recorder for lectures
5. Allow the use of a note taker
6. Provide notes or outlines to reduce the amount of writing required
7. Reduce copying aspects of work (pre-printed math problems)
8. Allow use of wide rule paper and graph paper
9. Suggest use of pencil grips and /or specially designed writing aids
10. Provide alternatives to written assignments (i.e., video reports, audio reports, etc.)

Implementing one or more of the above strategies and combining them with the 5 steps for writing success will enable your child or students to be well on the road to improved writing---AND without the usual struggles and "pain" so often experienced by reluctant, organization-challenged or dysgraphic individuals. We hope you will see the transformation in the very near future!

Writing Resources to Help Your Child or Students

How To Inspire Your Kids to Write and Why It’s So Important
by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Books that Teach About the Writing Process (for Gr. K-5)
from This Reading Mama blog
If you teach writing to young learners, this book list has over 15 books to help you teach young writers all about the writing process.

5 Steps to Help Your Kid Write a Better Essay
by Karen Dikson and Parent Toolkit

Dysgraphia Resources to Help Your Child or Students

The BEST Dictation Software for 2019
Here's the short list of the best dictation apps, with more information following, such as how we chose them, tips for using dictation software and detailed descriptions of the apps.

10 Tips to Help Children with Dysgraphia
Does your child struggle to write on the appropriate lines provided? Do you know or teach a child who is challenged and/or frustrated with simply forming basic letters and words? This article will provide strategies and tips to help children challenged with dysgraphia.

For information about customizable tools for readers of all ages, please visit: FocusandRead.com ---Tools for challenged readers of all ages!

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC and Pixabay