Jan 302014

If your child has dyslexia or dysgraphia, then spelling and writing ARE going to be difficult for your child. However, there is a really quick way to improve your child’s written expression in a very short time period, but I know some mommas aren’t going to like this quick trick!

Why Your Child Struggles Mightily With Written Expression:

Reading requires recognition skills (your child sees the word and then figures it out), but writing (and spelling) require much more involved mental processes because your child has to hold a LOT of information in his head:

  • the sentence he wants to write with each word in the right order,
  • he has to figure out how to spell each word while still holding the sentence in his brain,
  • then he has to physically go through the process of recalling how to write each letter,
  • write the word, letter-by-letter,
  • write each sentence word-by-word, and
  • write the paragraph sentence-by-sentence .. while holding it all in his head.

As you can see, if a child has working memory deficits, then writing can be a very arduous and difficult task!

Words, phrases, or thoughts are lost while your child is trying to hold everything in his head long enough to write things down. That is why a child will write poorly organized sentences that sometimes don’t even make sense.

Quick Trick for Written Expression Improvement:

One way to improve your child’s written expression quickly is to completely separate handwriting from written composition. I go into depth about this concept in my upcoming book, “Help Your Child Overcome Dyslexia At Home,” which will be published this year (I’ll let you know when it is released), but I thought I’d share this tip with my readers so you all will be in the know NOW.

The trick is to let your child dictate what he wants to write to you (who becomes his scribe) OR use dictation software (speech-to-text, which can be more difficult to use with speech issues) when your child is creating a composition–an essay or a story.

By letting your bright child dictate as a way of getting thoughts on paper, it will bring out your child’s creative mind and ability to compose better essays and stories.

The only thing your child has to think of is what he wants to say. Your child can tell you or the computer what he wants to say a lot quicker and easier than he can physically write it down.

I hear the worry alarm going off in some moms’ heads:

Do not worry. Using this common accommodation will not impair your child in the long run.. Your child needs to master the phonemes, how to spell, and how to physically write before trying to integrate it all together in well-written sentences and paragraphs.

Given how difficult writing is for kids with dyslexia and dysgraphia, mastery of each individual piece of writing is the key to your child’s proficient writing by hand. Once your child has mastered all of the pieces, then the ability to write a composition by hand will improve.

Therefore, it is often helpful to teach each piece totally separately from the other pieces.

Examples of Task Separation

For example, for handwriting, use a method of copying from a book so your child can FOCUS on handwriting as the only skill he is trying to master at that moment.

When your child is working on learning the phonemes, let your child work on the isolated skill of hearing the sound and recognizing the letters that go with that sound to the point of mastery.

By separating each writing skill component from the others, you can work with your child on that individual piece until your child MASTERs that skill. What does mastery look like? Or How do you know your child has mastered the skill?

Basically, mastery is demonstrated when your child can rapidly, without hesitating, respond or use a skill correctly. For example, if you ask your child how to spell “when” and he rapidly responds w-h-e-n, then he has mastered the spelling of that word. If your child pauses, says, “Ummmm, w (pause) h (pause) e (pause) n,” then he has not mastered the spelling of “when” because he had to think about it as he was spelling the word.

(Incidentally, spelling is the biggest nemesis of all for most kids with dyslexia, which I also talk about in my upcoming book).

Does the way I’ve explained the separation of each writing-based skill make sense? It’s basically breaking all of the elements in your instruction apart so that the task of writing is not so overwhelmingly complex that your child isn’t able to simultaneously manage all of the pieces that go into writing.

Summing it Up

I said some mommas aren’t going to like the solution because I know becoming your child’s scribe can be time consuming and requires your undivided attention. Using dictation software requires a purchase and training the software to function on behalf of your child.

Sometimes these solutions can be difficult depending upon other demands on your time and budget, but I did want you to be aware of why your child struggles mightily with writing, and the quickest way to improve his written expression.

I hope this tip helps! If nothing else, give it a try when your child is trying to compose a story or an essay.  You may be surprised by how well your child can express his self in writing when someone or something else is transcribing the words onto paper!