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Is Handwriting Instruction Important?

This is a question we get asked by parents of students of all ages. From poor letter formation to completely illegible writing, the issue of handwriting instruction is essential. Here are a few things we know from the current research:

  1. Letter formation instruction creates neural connections in the brain to support the mapping process between sounds and letter patterns.

  2. Handwriting instruction should initially focus on forming the letters with correct pathways.

  3. Direct, explicit instruction in letter formation should focus on K-2 students and students with dyslexia who need intensive, structured literacy interventions.

When is it more than just sloppy handwriting?

Dysgraphia is a related learning disability that centers on handwriting, spelling, and the written language process. Often it can happen alongside dyslexia, but it can also be a stand-alone learning disability. The common signs of dysgraphia include:

  1. Illegible letter formation.

  2. Inability to orientate writing to margins or a baseline.

  3. Unrecognizable spellings of words.

  4. Difficulty organizing thoughts to write down on paper.

  5. Difficulty writing a grammatically correct sentence, paragraph, etc


Therapist Spotlight: Maureen Griggs

Maureen is a Dyslexia Therapist and Coordinator at Blytheville Schools K-12 and a Dyslexia Teletherapist for Building Pathways. Maureen joined Building Pathways in 2020. However, she started working with students who showed Characteristics of Dyslexia in 2013. Maureen has always had a passion for reading and has strived to develop a love for reading in her students. In her 33 years in public education, she taught in multiple grades, including Reading Recovery, Reading Specialist, and Special Education. During her early years in teaching, Maureen noticed that no matter the approach used to teach struggling readers, it did not work. She refused to allow students to fail, so she was trained in an Orton-Gillingham Program from The Apple Group. She is trained in Connections as a Dyslexia Therapist. Maureen believes Orton Gillingham's approach can and will teach all children to read. When training with a direct, explicit reading approach and daily practices, children catch on to reading and become solid readers.

Building relationships with the families she works with is essential to helping students with little confidence to gain self-esteem and learn to read with the support of a therapist.

Maureen enjoys spending time with family, friends, her granddaughters, her youth group, and her puppy, Lilly Grace. She looks forward to retiring from public education soon and joining Building Pathways full-time.

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