If learning to print is causing difficulty for students with disabilities, move onward to cursive writing (handwriting).
1. The letters flow much easier and usually only one movement is necessary. Children often struggle with the many movements required in print. Remember, many of these children also have some type of visual-motor difficulties, therefore remembering where to put the 'circles and sticks' and remembering to cross t's and dot the i's coupled with then knowing which way to put each letter becomes very difficult. How often have you seen these children confuse b's and d's and put the circles on p's on the wrong side?
2. Only words are separate in cursive writing as opposed to each letter. Therefore phonetics are joined together and it's only words that are separated instead of spaces for letters and bigger spaces for words. The word becomes the beginning and the end, unlike the 3 letters to make the word. Many students deal with this concept much more easily.
3. Rarely will you see reversals in cursive writing, unlike printing. The child responds well to the flow of writing.
4. The child is going to have to learn cursive before he has barely mastered print so it seems quite reasonable to begin with cursive instead of taking years to learn print and then adding additional years to learn cursive. Remember, they learn print through reading, it's not essential to have them print.
5. In the many teachers that have tried this process, the child has never had difficulty with reading print once he/she has reached the level where reading print is required. The reverse of this isn't always true. The many teachers moving to cursive writing instead of print will often tell you that it was the best move for the child.
Some Helpful Tips
- Stick with it.
- Begin with the letters without loops (t, i, d, p, m, n, r).
- Show the child how to slant the paper to make writing more natural.
- Begin with small/lower case letters first.
- Remember that motor skills of children with learning disabilities are often weak, provide dotted cursive writing for ease and guide the child's hand. Direct teaching is recommended.