What a difference 8 weeks can make.

What a difference 8 weeks can make.

Ever since Jasmine started school, she really struggled with handwriting. The development of the fine motor skills required for a good pencil grip and consequently good writing were quite delayed. Consequently, she has had pretty poor writing: letters poorly formed, poor spacing between words and inappropriate use of the lines on the paper.

Given all the other challenges we were contending with, I left the handwriting to one side as I figured that soon she will learn how to touch type and the need for beautiful handwriting will gradually fade away.

I did not really appreciate how important handwriting is in the early stages of learning. On visiting her classroom, I saw the beautiful handwriting of other kids proudly displayed on the walls and was shocked at how poor Jasmine’s was by comparison. Again, I did nothing about it as I felt it was important to prioritise her reading skills instead.

Towards the end of Year 2, Jasmine really started to complain about her handwriting – she felt (and it was indeed very true) that her handwriting was the worst in the class, that her work was never displayed up on the walls and that she felt “stupid” for not being able to write as well as others. It was when she started to talk about being “stupid” that I really began to appreciate the impact this had on her already fragile self-confidence.

I’d heard of a handwriting specialist that lived not far from us and over the summer, decided to tackle Jasmine’s handwriting.

Jasmine went twice a week for 45 minutes and did about 10 minutes of practice a day. She was initially excited, then rapidly moved onto complaining that it was “too hard” and the teacher was “too strict”. We persevered and she has just finished the 30 stage course.

Her writing bears absolutely no resemblance to how it was 8 weeks ago and she is delighted that she can write pretty much the same as other kids in her class. Her handwriting specialist took a photo of her “before” and “after” and put it on twitter and Jasmine was delighted to be, in her words, “famous on the world wide web”.

The reality is that Jasmine will learn to touch type as soon as is feasibly possible, but working on improving her handwriting now, has meant that she feels “normal” on this dimension, and it is one less thing undermining her confidence. The smile on her face when she achieved her handwriting certificate was the biggest ever and the consequent boost in her confidence is priceless. Money well spent.

Before and after pictures below.



Jasmine handwriting before and after FINAL

My “go to” item

My “go to” item

I’ve found having a “go to” item, created by Jasmine to be very therapeutic.

When I am having a low period when nothing seems to be improving or we suffer some sort of set-back on our dyslexia journey, I “go to” a little poem that Jasmine wrote at the end of year 2.

I attach 2 photos of the text. Its called “Love is”

IMG_2902 IMG_2901

The words are not well aligned or particularly well formed and the spelling is all over the place, but I just LOVE what she has written – the thoughts and the sentiment blow me away every time. Masked as it is with the imperfections that come with dyslexia and dyspraxia, what I still can see clearly is her thoughtfulness, her sense of appreciation and a way with words that is just lovely.

Reading my “go to” poem cheers me up no end and is just what I need when I am feeling a tiny bit low. Its pretty well thumbed now so my next task is to get it framed until I can replace it with the next “go to” item.

I look forward to whatever treat Jasmine has in store for me.

Focusing on OUR journey

Focusing on OUR journey

For me, open school evenings come with a sense of dread that starts slowly, but then grows over the course of the day.

As parents you have the wonderful opportunity to see your child’s classroom, to leaf through their books and to view the artwork and writing pieces that line the walls.

My child’s work is hardly ever on display. On the contrary, the handwriting wall is covered with perfectly formed cursive writing, all neatly presented on the page with finger spaces, capital letters, punctuation and all beautifully spelt. My heart sinks when I mentally compare these amazing pieces of work to the work I see day in day out at home: badly formed letters, poorly spelt words and an absence of punctuation. How is it that we are still where we are after all the work – the multi-sensory activities, the daily practice, the hours of extra work with a specialist SEN tutor?

I move on to see the books that the other children are reading and I fight back tears. Not here. Not now.”We have made progress”. The words come tumbling into my head and I say them out loud to myself under my breath.

When I get home, I rush to dig out my daughter’s writing from several months ago and I compare it to now. We have made progress, we have. The letters are sitting on the lines, the letters are better formed, we actually have some finger spaces (finally), some of the “tricky” words are spelt correctly and I can actually make out what it says.

We HAVE made progress!

Putting the two writing samples side by side was incredibly satisfying. It was evident in black and white that she has made a lot of progress. Yes, its been painfully slow and loads of work, but we are getting there, she is getting there.

I try very hard to focus on our journey, to think where we’ve come from and what we have achieved, no matter how small. My daughter’s journey will be different, its very clear. But the comparison to others just does not help us on our journey. She will get there, it will be slow and tough and there will be tears but by goodness, I’m sure she will be a better person for getting there.

Whenever I hear a child my daughter’s age read aloud or glimpse their writing or the books they are packing away in their book bag, I go home and I look at our journey so far and I rejoice in what we’ve achieved and I am so very proud of her, my special child.