1) What strategies can I use to help a child with a learning disability through the writing process?

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

Also, contact her teachers and ask for suggestions. They may have strategies they use in class that you could use at home.

The following link has reviews of software programs for many different educational applications, including writing:

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

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 greater the likelihood of him reaching his potential in writing.

3) How can I help my preschooler with her writing skills?

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.

4) My son has dysgraphia and has trouble with the mechanics of writing, as well as with grammar, spelling, spacing, and punctuation. What types of programs would help him?

Students with dysgraphia often experience significant success using assistive technology. There are some great tools to help these children express their ideas without getting blocked by their writing difficulties. Please see LD OnLine's in depth section on adaptive technology.

You may also want to check out LD OnLine's articles on writing and spelling, which discuss accommodations and techniques to improve handwriting.

Software such as Inspiration helps kids organize their ideas and develop a paper or project by giving it a visual structure.

You could also check out Universal Design for Learning, a model for teaching students with disabilities that uses digital formats to adjust the curriculum to fit the student, rather than making the student adjust to fit the curriculum.

5) My child writes most of his letters and numbers from bottom to top. Is this a problem?

Handwriting and letter formation are sometimes difficult things for young children to learn. Many early errors correct themselves as students gain more experience with the writing process. Most good handwriting programs contain some type of tactile component, during which you model and then have your son trace letters in sand, form letters using clay or play-dough materials, or use a paint brush dipped in water.

Model the correct letter formation technique and then provide praise for your son's efforts. You might consider looking into a handwriting program that has a recommended letter sequence for practice. Many letters contain similar strokes and could be learned as a group.

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