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I’ve always known that my boys were smart. They started talking before they were one year old. They started learning to read when they were three. They’ve always been able to come up with intricate stories in their heads, carry on wonderful conversations, think logically, and remember all sorts of facts. The one thing they have always struggled with in our homeschool was that they didn’t want to write anything down.
This is a big deal! Writing is one of those skills that you use in all of your subjects. We typically teach spelling by having kids write their words several times. We teach lots of subjects by having the child fill out a workbook page to see what they remember. We give tests where they are asked to write things down. Even notebooking and lapbooking requires the child to write out what they remember about certain subjects. My boys could talk to you endlessly about what they remembered – but as soon as I would ask them to write anything down, they would freeze up and balk at having to write a short sentence or two.
So, What Should I Do?
I’ve asked people for advice over the years and have been given different tips. When my boys were younger, people told me they might not be mature enough to write, yet. I was told to give them time and let them complete most of their work orally. As they got older and I got more concerned, I was told to give them more practice. Buy them another handwriting curriculum. Continue to work with them. Build up their hand muscles. Work on their fine motor skills. I tried everything and they did make some strides in this area but it was still a lot of effort whenever they had to write anything down. I quickly learned ways to adapt our curriculum so that my boys would still learn things without having to produce as much written work.
My boys were learning – but something just didn’t feel right to me. Why were they having to work so hard to write anything down? Was it laziness? Was it a character issue? Would they ever grow out of this?
Fortunately, my questions were finally answered. While attending our state’s homeschool convention several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend six workshops taught by an amazing woman named Dianne Craft. She has a master’s degree in special education, she’s a certified nutritional health professional, and she was a homeschool mom. She taught several workshops this weekend; but, the first one that caught my eye was called Smart Kids Who Hate to Write. I knew I needed to attend this workshop. I was just hoping that I might learn one or two things that could give my boys some relief in this area. I believe that what I discovered will change their lives!
Why Is Writing Such a Struggle?
Dianne said that writing is an activity in which we should be using both hemispheres of our brain. Once we learn how to do something, after 6 months it is supposed to transfer over to the automatic processing part of our brain. If children are struggling to write, often it is because this doesn’t happen. For these kids, they continue having to think about the letters they’re forming and the words they’re writing instead of that being an automatic process.
She gave the analogy of learning to drive a car. She reminded us of what a difficult task this first was when we started to learn. We had to think about where our feet should be and how to push the different pedals. We had to think about when to use our turn signals and which lane to drive in. We had to remember to check behind, around, and in front of us before changing lanes. There were so many different things to think about that we had to use all of our focus to drive. We couldn’t talk at the same time and it wasn’t enjoyable. In fact, it was quite stressful.
That was the case until we had practiced long enough that the various processes necessary for us to drive transferred over into our automatic hemisphere. Then driving became enjoyable. We could carry on a conversation while driving. We could sing with the radio. It was a whole different ballgame. We could turn our head to look at the sights. It became a relaxing experience! (Driving on country roads, anyway.)
This is what some of our kids feel like when they are writing. Instead of being able to write and think about anything else at the same time, they have to focus very hard just to write anything down. This takes a tremendous amount of energy and focus and having to write anything down zaps much of their strength.
Sometimes this problem is caused by your child having a mixed dominance. Normally, if your child is right handed their right eye will be dominant. If they are left handed their left eye will be dominant. For some kids, this isn’t the case. One of my sons is left handed but his right eye is dominant. This can cause confusion in the brain while he is writing and can cause the writing process to be stopped from entering the automatic hemisphere.
Sometimes a child’s brain is hardwired for left-handedness even though they are right handed or vice versa. This can also cause major stress in their writing system.
How can you tell if there is stress in your child’s writing system?
- If they hate to write – or take a long time to do so
- If they have a mixed dominance
- If they occasionally reverse their letters or numbers after age 7
- If they are right handed but they make the letter ‘O’ clockwise
- If they form some letters from bottom to top
- If their copy work takes a long time and is labor intensive
- If they do their math problems in their head to avoid writing them down
- If their writing looks sloppy
- If they tell great stories orally by write very little down
- If they have a hard time lining up their math problems
- If they press very hard when writing
- If they are a teenager but they avoid writing at all costs
- If they mix their capital and small letters when writing
How Do I Help My Child?
If your child is exhibiting even one or two of these symptoms then your child would benefit from going through Brain Integration Therapy. This sounds complicated but it’s actually very simple and inexpensive and it’s something you can do at home with your child. This therapy was developed by Dr. Geteman and Dr. Paul Dennison. This exercise not only helps your child to overcome their dysgraphia but it will also improve their hand-eye coordination and their awareness of their body in space. This will help them to perform better in sports as well as to write with ease.
The Brain Integration Therapy is simple yet it involves lots of steps. I can’t detail how to do them in this article because I don’t want to take the chance of missing a step and making you waste your time. I would recommend that you purchase the following products by Dianne Craft:
Brain Integration Therapy Manual – $58.00
Smart Kids Who Hate to Write – $39.99
I purchased these products myself and have been thrilled with what I have discovered so far. Her Brain Integration Therapy Manual is easy to understand and easy to follow. The Smart Kids Who Hate to Write DVD includes the entire workshop that I attended which explains the reasoning behind this therapy. It also includes examples of kids who are a variety of ages doing the Writing Eight exercise, which is the main therapy that she recommends for overcoming dysgraphia (see picture above.) There are so many other exercises which are beneficial in her brain training manual, however, that I would HIGHLY recommend you purchase that as well.
If your child is struggling to write, purchasing these items will be a small price to pay to see their suffering end in this area. I can’t tell you how relieved I am! My boys are also very excited to start this therapy. Dianne says that your child might consider these exercises boring and that’s true. So far, however, my boys are thrilled that they might be able to overcome something which has been causing them grief for many years. My only regret is that I didn’t hear about this earlier so they wouldn’t have had to suffer for so long.
We have just started the brain integration therapy this week. Dianne says that you will start to see results after a few months; but, that you need to do the therapy for 6 months to a year so that the brain is permanently trained. I plan to write an update at a later time to let you know how my boys are doing with this training. I’m very enthusiastic and optimistic about this training, however, because Dianne said that in her over 30 years of teaching this to children she has never met a child she wasn’t able to help.
Do yourself and your children a favor. Get Dianne’s material. Read some of the articles on her website. Check out her sample audio and video files. I think you’ll be as happy as I am that you took the time to make writing easier for your children.
UPDATE A YEAR LATER – My boys both did all of Dianne’s brain training for about seven months and it did help them. Writing is still not their favorite thing in the world to do – but they are no longer reversing letters, writing from bottom to top, stuff like that. I do allow them to choose between typing and writing their assignments for most things. They used to try to do all of their math in their head so they wouldn’t have to write anything down – and now they’re able to write it out on paper. I think the exercises also helped my oldest son with his balance and coordination. It was worth the time!
Question: Does your child hate to write? Do you have any other tips you could share? Please leave a comment below.