Giddy with excitement, I imagined myself as a Newberry Award Winning children’s novelist as I submitted my short stories every year to my elementary school’s writing contest. My hope undefeated as I never placed until finally a victory winning second place in my last year of elementary school.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the best writer. I loved putting my thoughts to paper.
It baffled me that my children didn’t love writing as much as I did.
In fact, two disliked it so much it used to elicit fearful and defiant responses.
How do you get a child to write who refuses to write?
When we homeschooled, I succeeded in motivating my preschool to second grade children to write even if they hated it.
Changing your perspective helps. Usually a protest against writing is not due to defiance or laziness. A strong response against writing may indicate an underlying issue.
One of my preschool aged children refused to do any activities that involved any type of pencil or crayon. I realized this child, who has sensory processing disorder, didn’t like how the pencil or crayon felt when writing and/or had trouble gauging how much pressure to apply when using these writing tools.
When my two of my children were older they were diagnosed with writing learning disability and dyslexia.
A multi sensory writing approach helps my children with ADHD because they need a high degree of stimulation to keep them focused.
They resisted writing because they have special needs that make writing more challenging.
Creating a multi sensory writing environment encourages preschool children with sensory processing disorder, learning disabilities, and ADHD to write more.
Some preschool environments are amazing at meeting the sensory needs of children. If your child attends a preschool that needs improvement with providing multi sensory learning, it would benefit your child to use some of these multi sensory writing ideas to meet you child’s special needs. If you homeschool, use these ideas as inspiration to make writing more multi sensory.
How to Make Writing Multi Sensory
Pencils are great for improving fine motor skills, but not if your child refuses to use them. The best thing to do is offer lots of alternative writing tools for preschool children.
My kids loved using dry erase markers on marker board. Laminating handwriting sheets allows a child to use dry erase markers or crayons rather than a pencil.
Use a multi sensory approach to develop your child’s handwriting and writing skills without only relying on paper and pencils.
Don’t make your child sit at a desk.
My kids lay on their bellies on rugs writing on clipboards. One child wrote standing up on an easel desk.
Other children use yoga balls as chairs.
Use sensory writing trays
My children adored using writing trays. They are a wonderful addition to any preschool environment either at a classroom or home.
Make lots of play dough.
Homemade play dough is the bomb. This play dough recipe is killer, and you will enjoy kneading it as much as the kids. Store bought play dough is just fine, but I promise you once you make your own, you will never look back.
Simply messing about with play dough builds fine motor skills.
These play dough activities are great for building writing and fine motor skills.
Montessori Language Materials
We used Montessori sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet when we homeschooled preschool. They kept my super energetic kids with ADHD focused on learning.
Both the sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet provide a tactile learning experience which provide a greater potential to learn especially for sensory seekers.
I taught my children using the Language Primary Teaching Manual from Montessori Print Shop. There is a cost of $25 for the lessons. The lessons are clear and comprehensive, and I consider the price fair for the quality of the product. This is not an affiliate, but I want to share this with you because I found this a valuable resource in our homeschool preschool.
Living Montessori Now shares valuable information about how to teach letters using Montessori principles. You do not need to commit to creating a full Montessori homeschool environment for your child to benefit from the use of these hands on materials.
We purchased our materials from Montessori Outlet.
It is possible to provide your child with multi sensory language resources on a budget using these DIY ideas.
My son’s former teacher had a genius idea for teaching letter writing, and it helped my son learn his letters. She traced the letters with the tips of her fingers inside the palms of her students’ hands.
When I began to homeschool, I took this one step further. I used washable markers to write the letters or words on their bodies. I focused on the letters or words they needed more help learning. Everyday they begged for their tattoos.
Build fine motor skills through play and art.
Developing fine motor skills is important for a child to learn handwriting.
Use these ideas as inspiration to build visual spatial skills, coordination, and hand strength needed for handwriting.
Use a light table.
Ordinarily you see light tables used for art and free play, but they are an excellent writing aid.
Adding a light panel to a our learning environment eased writing stress and improved focus for my children. Simply completing handwriting practice or using the moveable alphabet on top of the light table helped my children.
This light panel was a Christmas present from the grandparents. It is expensive, but three years later it is still in great shape.
This Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad is a much more affordable option.
If you fancy yourself crafty, here are some DIY light table options.
If your child talks, your child can write. Writing is words put down onto paper.
Don’t let your child’s refusal to put his ideas onto paper, stop him from writing.
Write together with your child. Your child tells his ideas to you, and you write them down.
If your child is more motivated to write, write the words with a yellow marker. Then your child traces over the yellow words with a pencil or marker.
Give lots of time for active play and exercise.
A healthy development of core muscles aids in handwriting development. Basically strong gross motor skills help a child’s fine motor skills.
You are not hindering your child’s academic development by giving them lots of free playtime.
Sometime it’s fun to provide specific gross motor skills activities for kids, and here are some to try with your children.
Expose Them To Lots of Words
All the best writers are prolific readers. Writing goes beyond handwriting, spelling, and grammatical rules. Good writers use words well, and the best way to expose your child to the craft of writing is reading to them.
Not all children pay attention to read alouds well, and this may be more difficult for children with special needs such as sensory, behavioral, or attention challenges.
I read to the children during one meal or snack time each day, and eating helped them focus on the books.
Audio books entertain my children on car rides and expose them to books beyond their reading abilities.
Borrow audio book cd’s from your local library or use their online catalog to check out audio books to download to Overdrive using your personal device.
Without a doubt, The Rabbit Ears Treasuries of Tales were our favorite read alouds. They are classic stories from around the world read aloud by professional actors and beautifully composed musical accompaniment.
I am not going to lie to you.
Using these accommodations won’t necessarily turn your child into a writing savant or make writing their favorite subject. It will ensure you meet your child’s developmental needs and make it easier for them to learn the fundamentals of handwriting and writing. You will be working with them rather than fighting against them to encourage them to write when you meet their special needs.
Some children may need more interventions than you are able to provide at home. Talk to your pediatrician about a referral to an Occupational Therapist to be evaluated if you feel like what you are providing your child at home is not helping enough.
Two of my children used occupational therapy for about two years to help with their fine motor skills. Therapy plus a multi sensory writing approach helped them eventually reach average to above average in their handwriting skills.
Providing a multi sensory writing environment for your children with special needs provides them greater access to learning and keeps their natural curiosity of learning alive.