Is there such a thing as a handwriting teacher/tutor?

(33 Posts)
Lovecat Sun 06-Mar-11 20:46:15

...because DD won't do it for me, so I thought a third party might help!

Despite loads of help from school (Yr 1), she is still holding her pen/pencil in a 'fist' when she writes.

She's right-handed, I'm left, and it seems that it's hard for her to see how to do it properly from the opposite perspective, if that makes any sense whatsoever?

I ask her to hold the pen properly when she's doing homework etc and her complaint is that it's 'too difficult' and it hurts her to hold it like that. She gets very cross and throws the pen down/strops off if I persist, hence my looking for a 3rd party here that she may pay attention to!

Her writing is awful, btw, no control over the pencil at all, which I think is down to her grip.

She's got those rubber things that slide onto the pencil, as recommended by her teacher, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on the way she automatically holds the pencil.

So... is there such a thing as a person who can teach you how to write properly? Or is there something I'm missing re. how to get her to do it?

orienteerer Sun 06-Mar-11 20:47:47

Give her a bit more time......she's only in Yr 1......it takes timegrin.

Hassled Sun 06-Mar-11 20:50:27

Yes, give it time. At Yr1 loads of her class will be having the same issues.

BUT - if it turns out to be a significant problem, a referral to an occupational therapist would be the way to go. They did a lot of work with one of my Dyspraxic DSs and his pencil-grip/motor skills etc.

southeastastra Sun 06-Mar-11 20:51:40

i really don't get the handwriting obsession, my son is taught to write in such flowery writing it's crackers

Hulababy Sun 06-Mar-11 20:55:32

We do this percetuo motor programme in Y1 with children who are inding writing more challening:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Write-start-Programme-Perceptual-Handwriting/dp/1855032457/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299444770&sr=8-1

We also have a range of pencip grippers to use with children to help correct thir pencil grip. the most effective we have found this year looks like two elastic band things that wraps round their hand. I will try and google them.

Lovecat Sun 06-Mar-11 20:57:55

Thanks I'm sure it is early days, but if she's already complaining it 'hurts' to do it properly then I'm concerned that bad habits are being laid down now which will be harder to break later on. It's not flowery writing, SEA, it's basic letter and number formation - she's all over the place and I'm fairly certain it's because her grip gives her no control over the pen.

Hassled, I could just be being a bit precious about this but I think she has been showing signs of dyspraxia and I need to get my arse in gear and find out for definite one way or the other - in fact having looked at the Dyspraxia website a while ago I think I might be dyspraxic myself! (I certainly have a lot of the signs...)

Lovecat Sun 06-Mar-11 20:58:24

x-post - thanks Hulababy, that looks really interesting!

Hulababy Sun 06-Mar-11 20:58:44

I think they are a bit like this:

www.whistlingtortoise.co.uk/Therapy-Schools-Learning/HandiWriter-pencil-grip/prod_482.html

Hulababy Sun 06-Mar-11 21:00:20

Lovecat - the programme starts right from the basics. Works of motor skills - so might be drawng straight lines, curved lines, colouring in tiny spots, to patterns, and drawing shapes such as circles and triangles. It doesn;t do letter formation but general pencil control.

LIZS Sun 06-Mar-11 21:03:34

If it hurts she may well struggle with fine motor skills and tire easily (physicallay s well as in concentration). Try using a writing slope a with a forgivign surface (a plastic A4 folder with a thick pad of paper inside maybe) and soft pencil so she doesn't have to press so hard. GP could refer for an assessment re dyspraxia and then she may get some OT to help with grips, wrist position, isolating the movement etc.

Hassled Sun 06-Mar-11 21:04:20

Lovecat - nothing precious at all there . I have two Dyspraxic DCs - both doing well largely due to early intervention. Spotting it early really helps - might be worth talking to your school SENCo in the first instance.

sarahfreck Mon 07-Mar-11 11:11:06

Yes there is such a thing as a handwriting tutor - I know one, although I think most tutors teaching at primary level would be able to help to some extent too!

My son (7.5) is seeing an OT for retained reflexes and she is also giving him exercises to help his fine motor control such as rolling a marble between his fingers. His school has given him a Stabilo Easyergo pencil which looks a bit like a fat pen with a proper grip along with a writing slope which has helped too. If you have a bit of hunt in primary education there is a very good list of exercises that MRZ (a teacher) has compiled to help with fine motor skills that you might want to try.

Lovecat Mon 07-Mar-11 14:13:18

Thanks very much, all - I'll look that up and give it a go. May go to the GP for a referral just to be on the safe side, even if I do come across as an over-anxious mother!

(Hassled, she goes to an independent school, I'm not actually aware of them having a SENCO, but will ask... shocking ignorance on my partblush)

Lovecat Thu 10-Mar-11 10:53:29

A quick update -

I popped in this morning to ask if the school had a SENCO and if so could I have a word (they do, they actually have a team of 3!), and the Head happened to be in the office.

She asked me in to her office for a chat, turns out that they are already aware of DD's difficulties and general clumsiness/head in a cloud tendencies and are keeping an eye on things - I knew that they were doing a bit because of the special pencil they'd given her to use - but that generally they don't tend to start any assessments/intervention until 7, when it's a bit easier to assess where they should be (?).

However, as I'd raised it, she said that she could either send a letter straight away to the GP for referral, or, if I was happy for her to go ahead then she would do some assessments and then write to our GP with that bit more detail - it turns out that SN was her speciality before she went into Headmistressing (? is that a word ?) and although when she arrived at the school provision was very poor, she has set up a whole system in place to give extra help and support where there's a need.

She was talking about testing to see DD's thought-processing/learning method (visual/auditory?) and some vision and perception tests - apparently it takes about 4 hours in total but because of her age they're going to split it down into little sessions and do a bit each day. So that's the approach we're going to take, and we've made an appointment for a fortnight's time to discuss the findings. Also been encouraged to give her exercises to strengthen her shoulders, as current thinking is that that has an impact on fine motor skills.

So thank you all, it's strange, I feel a little bit weird and almost shaky that someone else has actually noticed the issues and it's not just my parental paranoia (I suppose deep down part of me was hoping she'd say 'there's nothing wrong with her, she just needs a bit of a push' or something). But at the same time I'm thankful that I'm not imagining things and that something's getting done, if that makes sense?

Lovecat Thu 10-Mar-11 10:53:51

Well, that wasn't so quick...blush

IndigoBell Thu 10-Mar-11 11:13:58

Really good news loveCat. Let's hope they do some great interventions with DD.

IntotheNittyGritty Fri 11-Mar-11 08:00:19

Its great to hear of a school being proactive. Well done to them

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 11-Mar-11 08:11:22

Lovecat, I know how you feel as my 12 year old DD has dyspraxia. I felt very strange at the beginning when assessments started. Just want to say that if it does turn out there is something similar going on, they improve hugely with age.

When DD was in year 3, someone came to view our house who was a similar age to DD is now. She was saying her dyspraxia hardly affected her, just when tired. I found it so hard to believe, DD just permanent struggled to hold a pen and would bounce off Walls walking down corridors. Well now it hardly affects her, she's just left the house to walk to school with friends, is fab at gym, can draw and her writing is hugely improved.

It's very hard to deal with as a parent but I promise that some extra help now will make an amazing difference.

veryoldmother Fri 11-Mar-11 08:20:42

Lovecat sounds like we are in the same position. DS (5 Year 1) sounds v similar. He is having OT once a week at school (and has had a full OT assessment) and we have a home programme to strenghten his hands/shoulders as his writing is terrible. He's also very dreamy (have you read any of the old dreamers threads on here - very useful - do a search in Education under "Dreamer of dreams" in the thread title) and lacks focus. His balance is also terrible I am going to adopt a slight wait and see policy until the end of this year and then probably get him formally assessed

veryoldmother Fri 11-Mar-11 08:21:49

Wyken what help has your DD had?

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 11-Mar-11 08:50:58

She had lots of support from the TA who would act as a scribe, sessions with the Senco working on fine motor skills. Our local hospital has a co-ordination clinic where she had two courses of treatment there (12 weeks per course) with OT's and Physios, at one point whe had two OT's and a physio helping her do something at the same time. She also needed speech therapy which we paid for in the end as the NHS one wasn't great.

She also had social problems which I found hard to get help with but she's absolutely fine now and coping well with the year 7 girl thing nightmare, though she isn't great at eye contact with adults still. There have been a variety of thongs for her to use in school such as pens, writing boards, special scissors.

She had lots of problems with concentration and struggled with fine and gross motor skills. I won't lie, it has been a hard slog but has really paid off now. She currently doesn't any extra support at school at the moment and was very indignant at the suggestion she might see the SENCO at the beginning when she transfers to upper school in year 9. Going to a middle school in year 5 was an almighty shock to the system as they have to cope with lugging books around to different classes but she's coped, albeit with a few teething problems.

She's now on the brink of being a teenager and wants to learn Japanese and become a translator (don't ask me where that came from), was picked to go on a workshop for children G&T in art (was the child who never had a picture in the newsletter all through first school when just about everyone else did), is fab with animals and going to do agility with the dog and gets her fair share of people calling for her/invites to houses. Oh and she's gone from being the world's messiest eater and falling off her chair to being well on the way to becoming a competent cook. Yes the idea of her being in charge of a car in the future did give DH palpitations when he thought about it, but she'll crack it (maybe an automatic)

If someone had told me that when she was seven I would have thought they were quite mad! I really do know how hard it is in the start but I promise it gets easier, we all now forget she has dyspraxia
whereas when she was younger it used to rule our lives and subtly impact in just about every area. Sorry to go on, I just want to get across how things can change so much, look at Daniel Radcliffe !

veryoldmother Fri 11-Mar-11 08:58:48

Very very heartening to hear. DS has similar issues. I think help eiwth coordination/balance is the bit missing for him (he is doing a social skills group at school although I dont think it is really helping him with his main issue which is playground related - he just tends to float on the edge of the group aimlessly - but eye contact and focus definitely improving).

He's 6 at the start of July and I am hoing that if we are tackling some of these issues now we might overcome it. How did you get a diagnosis?

Lovecat Fri 11-Mar-11 11:25:01

Wynken, that's wonderful.

What you've just said about getting through a meal without her falling off the chair really strikes a chord - DH is a stickler for table manners (I blame the parentswink) and this has been an ongoing battle between the two of them - when I told him last night about the meeting and he looked at the common symptoms online, he was mortified that he'd been so hard on her.

DD is funny, socially. The Head commented on this in the meeting, she is very friendly when she wants to be yet other times will refuse eye contact and blank people. She does refuse eye contact with adults. Strangely, if she's with her BF (who is Miss Sociability), she will follow her lead and engage with other adults, but alone she looks at the floor and won't speak.

When DD was little she did Tumbletots (I am very clumsy, have a very non-bendy body and am physically awkward so I didn't want her to end up like me!) and it really seemed to help her, she had/has very good balance when she concentrates but then school came along and there are no classes she can get to for older children (we took her to ordinary gymnastic classes but she hated the floorwork, only wanted to do the equipment-related stuff and they weren't prepared to let her just do half the class, so that fizzled out) and I have noticed she's started banging off the walls/sides of doors again. Which I do too. Perhaps I need to get assessed?

What sort of stuff did you have to do with her at home? I know I'm now worrying without any firm diagnosis, but atm it's a struggle to fit in my work, school run, homework, tea and getting her to bed at a decent hour, if there's loads of extra stuff to do as well I will have to look at cutting my hours at work to fit it all in... another interesting discussion to have with DH!

I've looked at MrZ's list of exercises, they look great. Now I'm off to look up the Dreamers threads...

Thanks once again for all your help and advice, I really, really appreciate it

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 11-Mar-11 14:01:44

DD was referred by the school to our community paed who then referred her to the Co-ordination clinic which comes under the hospital paeds, though we never got to see her consultant and in reality the OT's and Physios assess, refer to consultant then diagnosis came through of dyspraxia, hypermobility, low muscle tone and speech and language delay.

DD has a very good imagination and used to pretend to be a cat and also had pretty good balance but really struggled in other areas. We were given things to do at home but she wasn't at all receptive to doing them with me so I didn't push it. She started piano lessons when she was 6 and had them for 4 years with a truly wonderful teacher who very sadly died a couple of years ago. They really seemed to help her coordination, I think they provided auditory feedback for the pressure exerted and helped her coordinate both hands.

The time consuming bit was all the extra appointments with OT, physio, speech therapist, Senco etc. As I said, we didn't do very well with the exercises she was supposed to be doing. I think when a child struggles to do things that their peers take for granted, they get especially tired and I always wanted home to be her safe place without pressure which I think she needed. Also I was very busy behind the scenes with the whole friendship thing and have a network of supportive friends who have on occasions had a quiet word with their DD's to make sure she wasn't on her own for lunch and I get to hear if there have been problems at school that DD doesn't tell me about.

There are still challenges ahead and we have the change to upper school to contend with yet but am fairly confident that though there will be
problems along the way, DD will cope with them.

Good luck to you both, it will be fine in the end I promise! Use MN to offload during the times things get to you, it helps.

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