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3 Things You Can Learn From Your Child's Handwriting on National Letter Writing Day

3 Things You Can Learn From Your Child's Handwriting on National Letter Writing Day

Today (Dec. 7) is National Letter Writing Day and in an age when text messages and emails have taken over our written communication, receiving a handwritten letter in the mail feels even more special. To a distant relative it might be the highlight of their day to know your child or teen was thinking about them and took them time to put pen to paper.

But there are also things you can learn from your child's handwriting.

While analyzing your child’s handwriting is by no means a scientific procedure for determining a learning disorder, there are clues that may help parents recognize a need for professional evaluation. Here are a few things to check for.

  1. Messy handwriting: Don’t assume your child is just being lazy. For younger kids, an inability to form letters correctly may be more about “motor dysgraphia,” or slow-developing motor skills. For school-age children and teens, writing illegibly may be a sign of dysgraphia (“problems with writing”), which is more about a lack of ability than effort – often due to weak cognitive skills like visual processing.
  1. Misspelled words: Sometimes referred to as “dyslexic dysgraphia,” misspelling words when writing is often a sign that certain brain skills like phonemic awareness are weak. One quick way to evaluate the problem is to ask your child to copy written work from another sheet of paper. If the copied work has few or no mistakes, the issue may be less about poor handwriting and more about weak reading and spelling skills.

3. Extra, reversed or omitted letters; heavy pressure: Some studies have found that students with attention deficits (like ADHD) were more likely to have dysgraphia. In addition, writers with ADHD tended to write faster and exert “abnormally high levels of pen pressure.”

If this at-home evaluation brings up any concerns, consider having a Brain Skills Assessment done. Once the weak cognitive skills – like attention, visual processing or phonemic awareness – are identified, a personalized brain training program can be created to boost those skills and make learning easier for ALL areas of academics – not just handwriting.

There are many factors to consider when reviewing a child’s handwriting: age (motor skills), gender (girls tend to write more clearly), size of hands (to hold a pen or pencil), and even personality (a “people-pleaser” might try harder to impress a parent or teacher). And while handwriting skills will improve over time for some, those who struggle due to weak brain skills will only excel when the cause of their dysgraphia is addressed.

To learn more about cognitive skills or one-on-one brain training,