Do your kids with ADHD struggle with penmanship? You’re not alone. Many, many kids need ADHD handwriting help from an early age. And, once again, it all goes back to the unique struggles of the ADHD brain.
Executive function is what helps us organize our thoughts and carry them out. Because that is sporadic in kids with ADHD, they may have trouble understanding the process of handwriting, including how to hold the pencil, how to form the letters, and how to copy what they see in a book or on a chalkboard.
Tigger has struggled with her handwriting for the past couple of years. On occasion, it would look perfect – identical to the models in her handwriting book. At other times, though, it was barely legible. For the longest time, I did not understand why handwriting seemed to be so difficult for her until I started reading about all the ways ADHD affects children.
Now that I have a better understanding of how ADHD works, I’ve adjusted my teaching style to offer her more help with handwriting. Here are a few tips I’ve been using.
How to Offer ADHD Handwriting Help for Kids
1. Adjust your expectations.
We’ve mentioned this a few times in the past, but when it comes to developing handwriting skills, we have to adjust our expectations of our kids. They may not develop the fine motor skills to write well at the same time or age as their peers, which means their handwriting skills may develop slowly.
If that’s the case, having them write pages and pages of copywork is not going to help them develop these skills any faster. It will, however, make them hate handwriting.
Let your kids write to the best of their ability and then have them do a small amount of daily copywork. After a few weeks, you’ll see their handwriting improve. It may not look like the D’Nealian model, but it will improve…in time.
2. Don’t rush to teach cursive.
There’s a minor debate going on in public school right now about the value of teaching cursive writing in the modern age. Personally, I love cursive and I teach it to my kids. But, I don’t insist that they use it at a certain age.
Cursive is generally harder to master than print handwriting. So if your child with ADHD is already struggling with handwriting, don’t insist that he master cursive simply because he is at the grade level when cursive is taught in school.
We introduced cursive to Tigger in third grade, but I noticed that her print was getting sloppier by the day. So, I stopped teaching cursive and we went back to print. Now she’s learning cursive again, but without letting her print penmanship slide.
3. Let kids use alternate methods for composition.
Some kids who dislike handwriting or have sloppy handwriting are actually excellent storytellers. Don’t insist on them writing their work by hand. Let them use other methods to compose their stories, papers, and responses. Try teaching them to type. In fact, learning to type can actually build fine motor skills that will improve handwriting in the long run.
You might even want to let your kids dictate their stories or draw pictures to express their thoughts. Let them know that there are several ways to tell a story. That way, the frustration of trying to master penmanship won’t poison their love for writing.
Do your kids with ADHD struggle with handwriting? How do you help them develop good penmanship? Let us know in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! See plenty of ways to make homeschooling kids with ADHD easier!
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Full Spectrum Mama says
Yes, my guy has a hard time both WRITING and, at the same time, spelling and punctuating. He does a LOT better on a keyboard. yes, we want them to know how to write, but those little victories build self-esteem, right? Thanks for the tips!!! Helpful…
The Eccentric Mom says
It is by total luck that I found your post today – I found you via Pour Your Heart Out and stumbled upon this post – my son was diagnosed with ADHD in April and is in the 4th grade. We home-schooled for a while but he is currently in public school and is struggling with his handwriting. They taught cursive in 3rd grade – which he missed – and they now require it for assignments and it stressed him out. We had to get a 504 plan put into place so that he could complete his work with print. This makes total sense and never once did I associate his handwriting troubles to his ADHD – so thank you so much for sharing this. I was meant to see your post today! 🙂
This article is about my son all the way (he’s been diagnosed with ADHD). He LOVES telling stories but ask him to write a complete sentence and it’s World War III. This year he’s learning cursive in public school. Any suggestions on how do address cursive with the school? I want him to learn cursive but worry that his already bad printing will get worse. He has a 504 Plan with the school and they’re very accommodating.
My handwriting gets a lot worse when I’m racing to write something down before I forget it. Especially when it’s a steady stream of ideas. I can type much faster than I can write, and the ideas flow more easily when all I have to do is pound a keyboard instead of struggling with my wonky fine-motor skills.
What’s weird is, if I make the handwriting process more interesting—with a fountain pen filled with an unusual colour of ink—my handwriting becomes quite beautiful, with artistic flourishes. People even compliment me on it.
Even so, I have to hold the pen in a “2-fingers-on-top, death-grip” to have enough control to write. I wasn’t aware of my unusual pen-hold until someone remarked that an ADHD friend of mine had the same weird way of holding a pen!
Selena Robinson says
I’m the same way!!!! If my mind is running a mile a minute – I don’t even try to write neatly…lol. I’ve practiced with my handwriting a lot over the years, but I never thought of the fountain pen idea! I’ll definitely give that a try. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Chelsey Luehr says
Our ADHD son actually does much better with cursive than print…I think it is easier for him. Because the letters are all connected, the size of his letters are more consistent, and he doesn’t have to think about the spacing between letters, and for some reason he remembers to capitalize better as well.
Brazilian mom says
My son has ADHD and he’s very smart but he is slow writing.We are Brazilian and the main problem is that he writes almost everything without space among the words.He used notebook with grids last year but it wasn’t work so well.Do you have any sugestion?
My son is actually going through the process of getting evaluated to see if he has ADD/ADHD. When I read this I’m wondering if your child was ever on medication or if you find other ways to help he/she with their handwriting or any other problems.