My son has special needs and seems to understand that he has difficulty with prewriting and handwriting skills. He can actually complete many activities his occupational therapist and I give him, but motivating him to practice for any length of time takes some creativity.
Here are three ways we’ve found to increase interest.
3 Ways to Increase Interest in Handwriting Practice
- Provide scaffolding. Offer a few ways to guide handwriting practice rather than just copying. You can draw the shape or letter first, then have your child go over your marking with a highlighter or marker. You can also draw bubble letters to provide a “box” for your child to write within. (See this post at I Can Teach My Child for other scaffolding ideas.)
- Integrate sensory options. My son is a sensory seeker and needs almost constant deep sensory input. Having your child draw (with a finger or with an implement) in sand, shaving cream, oobleck, etc. can increase interest. You can even write the letters/shapes on fine sandpaper or another textured surface and allow your child to trace it with a finger. The caution here: Sometimes the sensory method becomes too enticing and he can’t focus on writing! We have to balance this, which is really just trial-and-error so far for us.
- Use specific tools to change the writing surface. Through tablets, we have access to so many amazing writing and prewriting apps. My son loves several of those and thrives using them. However, he also knows what else sits on an iPad desktop (more games!), and that can be a bit distracting for him at times.
We were recently introduced to the Boogie Board LCD eWriter.
This tablet-sized device is solely an LCD screen with a stylus. It’s easy to hold, thinner than most tablets, and feels very smooth to write on. You easily jot any note down, then erase it with a simple push of the button at the top of the device.
Most importantly for our situation: my son loves writing on this device.
How We Use the Boogie Board LCD eWriter for Handwriting Practice
- Tracing – I write the letter or shape first, then my son traces over it. (My youngest practices, too!)
- Copying – I first draw a model of the letter or shape, then my son draws one beside my model.
- Connect-the-dots – I draw a simple connect-the-dot image, number the dots, then my son does the connecting—and practices different line directions at the same time!
- Smiley faces – My son’s occupational therapist helped him draw a smiley face (“circle, dot, dot, smile”) with arms and legs and a simple body. She first drew with him using hand-over-hand assistance, then had him complete certain parts on his own in subsequent trials.
- Mazes – I create simple mazes that change direction, add curves, and more. So far, he loves these the most out of any other writing exercises.
We generally just practice for 5-15 minutes each time. I’m aiming for 3 times a week or more with this device right now. We also allow him to have freewriting time before and after each mini-session. He mainly just scribbles (and erases repeatedly), but he allows us to position the stylus correctly, so he’s still getting practice controlling a writing implement!
A few considerations:
It’s marketed as an environmentally friendly-alternative to taking notes on paper, but with just an 8.5-inch screen and no way to save the notes, I’m not sure how practical it is for general/daily adult use. However, as evidenced above, this device has great potential for special needs populations, schools, and therapists. My son’s occupational therapist says she could see many therapists using this as an alternative to a tablet device. My husband (a public school teacher) says he’d love a class set of these to use for group work, silent class-wide answers, and in-class practice. (Although he did say they’d need to be twice the size and half the price.)
For us, this device offers enough screen-like input to interest my son to write, but without the extra distractions of a tablet. We’re glad to have it for handwriting practice!
We’re going to use this device during December when we use our Grapevine Studies packet for study on the Christmas story. We love the “Birth of Jesus” traceables for our preschoolers, and we can use the Boogie Board to motivate my son to do the tracing and perhaps even freehand drawing of the story figures. (This particular study from Grapevine is 20% off from now until December 15th!)
How do you motivate your beginning writer or child with special needs to practice handwriting?
Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of the Boogie Board LCD eWriter from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only share what I believe to be helpful or useful.
I am an affiliate for Grapevine Studies. If you click on a Grapevine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!
This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up, Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, In Lieu of Preschool’s Tuesday Tots, UpsideDown Homeschooling’s Hearts for Home linkup, and the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, and .
This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.