Classroom Environment and Materials
You, as a teacher have a very important role to play in the life of a child with dysgraphia. Your understanding and support can help a child overcome their difficulties and grow in their knowledge and confidence. The suggestions given below for modifications made in the classroom for children with dysgraphia are intended to help the child learn better and progress.
Make sure your classroom is comfortable
and is a pleasant place to be. Make sure that a child with dysgraphia has a comfortable chair with a table of an optimum height so that he can write comfortably. Ensure that you have adequate lighting in the class, especially near the child with dysgraphia.
Try a variety of writing adaptations to find out if a child writes more easily with any of them – weighted pens, different colored pens, markers, bold lined paper or extra wide lined paper (for large letters). Pencil grippers may help some children hold their pencils in the right way.
Find the Best Writing Position
Every child with dysgraphia is different. They struggle with different things, and may have different things that help them write better. Find out which position works best for the child in your class. Is it sitting in a corner, and writing on a writing board, or is it standing, or is it lying on the floor with elbows on the ground? Help your child find out what works best for him or her. In this manner, small modifications made in the classroom for children with dysgraphia can help them to write better.
Be Patient, Make Allowances
You may find that the child writes better early in the morning, or just after he’s been playing outside. Use this time to get the child do their writing. It will help him feel more confident about himself.
A child with dyslexia may need more time to complete their writing tasks. Allow them more time, or give them time later in the day to complete their work. When possible, allow them to answer with a single word or a check instead of full sentences. Don’t put too much pressure on them to write perfectly. For example, if schoolwork required five pages of writing in a day, let the child write four pages in any way they want, but explain to the child that one page needs to be written neatly and carefully. You might help the child write this page. Over time, you can increase the number of neatly written pages.This will help them to feel less guilty and less frustrated.
Good Days and Bad Days
Understand that not all days are the same. A child may do very well on one day, and make lots of mistakes another. When a child is having a bad day, be supportive, and try to give the child the option of doing something less stressful. Simple classroom strategies like these can make a world of difference to a child with dyslexia.
Communicate with Parents
Talk to the child’s parents regularly. What problems do they have when the child is doing homework? The parents may have some ideas for you. You can also help them to understand more about their child.
Use playdough, or other textures to learn the forms of letters. These activities can be fun for the rest of the class too.
Encourage drawing, coloring and painting. These activities will develop eye-hand coordination and visual perceptual skills without stressing the child.
While teaching letters, give verbal cues on how each letter is formed.
Use a multi-sensory approach to teach. This involves the use of all sensations including taste, smell, touch, movement and vision.
This is the best and most important thing that you can do for a child with dysgraphia. Never put the child down in front of the rest of the class. In fact focus on the child’s qualities and gifts. Encourage the other children to also be supportive. Use these suggestions for modifications made in the classroom and remember, what you do, could change the life of a child with dysgraphia.