A child with extreme difficulty in handwriting might be said to have dysgraphia. In might be due to fine motor difficulties or an inability to transfer visual information to written work. Dyscalculia might be at work with the child who has extreme difficulty in mathematics. For either challenge, Inspired Idea has some inspired ideas!
The company was founded by Eve and Michael Engelbrite whose son struggled with dysgraphia. I looked at two of their workbooks.
The first was called Unblocked! Dysgraphia Workbook with Bible Verses. A child who struggles with dysgraphia has an extremely difficult time making the curves and circles required by traditional handwriting. The method of writing proposed by Inspired Idea consists of letter boxes, used as visual templates for drawing letters. Predominately, the letters are formed by horizontal and vertical straight lines. It is hard to explain this concept in words. A visit to their web site will provide a visual.
The student begins with capital letters, as they are uniform and easier to form than lower case ones. After these are mastered, the child tackles lower case.
This makes so much sense! By providing the student with a defined space in which to make the letters and giving specific instruction in letter formation within those boxes, the child can grasp the position and formation of the letters. Ideally, after the student masters the formation within the boxes, they transition to more traditional writing.
The next workbook I looked at was called Arithmability Dyscalculia Workbook: Addition and Subtraction of Whole Numbers. It is designed for the student who is unable to function in math. The book contains the same writing helps for numbers as the writing workbook, including extra space to write in and horizontal lines to keep the numbers in columns. They also present some innovative concepts, such as looking at a number line as a vertical line, rather than the traditional horizontal line, a different carry and borrow system, and counting dots for speed in adding. Some very interesting ideas presented here!
--Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Another review of Unblocked!:
Unblocked! Dysgraphia Workbook: Clinical Curriculum
Unblocked! Dysgraphia Workbook: with Bible Verses
Eve & Stone Engelbrite
709 N. Brandon Drive
Chandler, AZ 85226
The term "dysgraphia" is used to describe a student who is physically and psychologically normal, but who has difficulty with the mechanics of handwriting. Specifically, the student often has wonderful ideas, but when you place a pencil in his or her hand, has difficulty setting those ideas down on paper. Further, drawing circles are often very difficult for these students, especially if they have to be placed correctly relative to something else.
What can one do to help a child who is dysgraphic? There are several different approaches available for consideration, one of which is the Engelbrite's curriculum, Unblocked! Dysgraphia Workbook.
The Engelbrites designed and developed these workbooks for their son who was dysgraphic and in need of some excellent materials that would aid in improving his lettering and numbering skills. This couple drew from their professional backgrounds to pull off this feat. Eva Engelbrite is an Arizona certified teacher for grades K-8, and has taught and tutored students in public and private schools for ten years. Further, Eva wrote a curriculum for dyslexics and students with speech and hearing difficulties for the "Color Phonics" program offered by Alpha Omega. Stone Engelbrite was one of the developers of the Switched-on Schoolhouse multimedia learning software. Therefore, this couple is more than qualified to undertake the design and development of a dysgraphia curriculum.
Unblocked! Dysgraphia Workbooks contain letter-box grids for use by the dysgraphic student to trace and copy straight-line letters and numerals, with no curves. Single letters and words are presented first, followed by sentences and quotes (or Bible verses depending on the workbook). The student, as he or she works through the workbook, should develop writing skills that should transfer to regular writing paper following completion of the workbook. These workbooks are designed to be used at home for children aged six and above.
As I made my way through Unblocked, I found the initial descriptions and instructions somewhat weak, and had to read through the few pages of discussion offered several times prior to being able to clearly understand what the student is being asked to do. Once that task was completed, though, the use of the workbook, and what was expected, seemed clearer.
I am in the process working through the workbook now with a dysgraphic student and hope to find out if, in fact, the skills practiced, transfer to regular writing paper. If you are interested in materials for dysgraphic students, Unblocked might be just what you need. However, please don't hesitate to email me to see if my completion of these materials with my dysgraphic student were successful. At that point I will be able to give you a first hand account of our experience.