Does your child struggle with printing? What do you do if you have a gifted child who can mentally work significantly above grade level, but struggles with penmanship? How do you adapt your home learning materials to meet each individual child’s needs?
My oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD and then Autism during his kindergarten year. Printing is an issue that we have been struggling with for the past five years. He is a bright kid, but he would run screaming from the room if you asked him to print. Something had to be done. I had to find a way to enable him to continue learning without it being stressful, while still moving forward with his penmanship.
Due to my son’s autism, his muscles fatigue easily. We were told by an orthopedic specialist that this is very common in children with autism. He had a very hard time sitting up when he was a baby. He didn’t actually sit on his own until after he started walking at around nine months of age. He is the type of kid that needs to lean on something to prop himself up. All of this to say, his muscle fatigue from printing is a very real thing. When he says that printing tires him out, he really means it.
I have spent the past few years making a variety of adaptations for him. Some of them have worked and some of them haven’t.
This past year was spent focusing on strengthening his fine motor skills and requiring only a minimal amount of printing (specifically during penmanship time). This approach was time consuming because it required me or someone else to scribe all of his work for him, but I would have to say that it was the most effective method given our circumstances. By the end of the year, he was taking the pencil from my hand and telling me that he wanted to print his own work.
While I do realize that this approach may not be possible or desirable for every homeschooling family, I think it is important to find something that works and run with it.
We have used many different activities to work on his fine motor skills. Some of these activities include playing with K’nex, Lego, or small building toys. He has also used tongs, to practice his pencil grip, by eating tiny snacks like Fruit Loops. We have enjoyed play dough and plasticine for strengthening his muscles.
To get creative ideas for working with your own child’s fine motor issues, have a look at these websites and the materials that they offer. I have set the links directly to the fine motor sections.
Do any of your children struggle with printing? What strategies have you used in your home learning to help them?
When Honey is not eating gummy bears with tongs she can be found writing about her homeschooling adventures on her blog, Sunflower Schoolhouse.
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