Helping Your Pokey Child With Writing

Writing is one of the most complex tasks that any student will need to do. It involves high levels of language processing, organization of thought, understanding of sentence structure, spelling skills and the ability to write (or type) fluidly. Phew! That is a lot of cognitive coordination! For many students the process is daunting. For those who have visual motor integration difficulties, where the coordination necessary for handwriting and/or typing itself is cognitive, that process is overwhelming.


These are the students who think, “The tawny, striped cat on the stone wall noticed a tiny mouse scurrying toward its hole and pounced, missing it by inches.” What ends up on paper: “The cat jumped on the mouse.” Their written output does not match the complexity of thought. And, the process of getting even that much on paper takes a very long time.


There is an overwhelming amount of research that indicates how important fluent handwriting is for the developing brain – for learners. There are important neurological connections between the development of thinking skills and the process of writing.

So how do you help a student who is slow, slow, slow, in their written output?

  1. Regular exercise, such as NILD’s Rhythmic Writing, is powerful for developing the neural connections needed. Fifteen minutes of practice should be done daily.
  2. Give the child a category (such as animals, colors, or furniture). Have them tell you as many items as they can from that category in 30 seconds. Then, have them write as many of them as they can in one minute. Tell them that spelling is not important for this game. Chart the information: category and then numbers of both oral and written words. Cycle back to the same categories. Practice daily.
  3. Dictate simple sentences to them, preferably from interesting material. Keep track of how many words they can do in a minute.
  4. Limit how much time they must spend practicing on #s 2 and 3, unless they find them fun! Try five minutes each day.


The key for building fluency with your child – written, reading, or math – is regular, consistent practice. There is no shortcut, but the reward is greater ease in their ability to get their schoolwork done in a timely manner. More time left to play!

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