Matthew is a bright second grader recently diagnosed with dysgraphia. He would happily work on math homework and hands-on projects but would complain and stall and avoid any assignment that involved writing out answers.
While working on his handwriting and fine motor skills, Matthew's occupational therapist got to know him and learned that he wants to be a veterinarian. For his next project, she had him describe an animal. Matthew had to:
1) trace an animal
2) color it in
3) write a few sentences about the animal
4) practice editing those sentences for legibility, capital letters, and punctuation
Think of all the skills that process involved! There were many forms of practicing fine motor skills (tracing, coloring, and writing letters), sentence formation, composition, and even proofreading. [Note: there was a concious decision not to address spelling for this exercise.] It was a huge success. Matthew LOVED it and they decided to create an entire book of different animals over the course of weeks and months.
Matthew came home and told his mom, "I like to write when it's about animals!"
He was so excited to pick out new animals and find facts and write them down by the animal's picture. It was the first time that writing seemed fun.
The moral of the story is that even hesistant writers can be inspired to do something that's difficult for them. How do you encourage your kids to practice writing? What tips and tricks have you discovered?