Calling the handwriting of some gifted children “chicken scratches” is an insult to chickens everywhere. Seriously, their handwriting can be nearly undecipherable and can cause numerous problems in school. For example, some teachers will say that five-year-old Johnny is not ready to move into first grade because he can’t write his name legibly. However, it’s not unusual for five-year-old children to have poor handwriting. To write well, a child must have fairly well-developed fine motor skills .

The lack of sufficiently developed fine motor skills can be a real problem for some gifted kids, many of whom are perfectionists. They see the letters in their minds one way, but their fine motor skills just aren’t developed enough to allow them the kind of control over their fingers they need to create the kind of writing they envision. This lack of control over their letter formation can be extremely frustrating for these children, and rather than deal with the frustration, they stop caring. They don’t even bother trying to improve their writing, even when they are older and they have more fine motor control.

However, while it is possible to help children improve their fine motor skills, that’s not always the problem. Quite often gifted children simply think faster than they can write. When they try to write fast enough to keep up with their brains, their handwriting suffers. This is true even when children have well-developed fine motor skills. So what do you do? The best solution is to help your child learn keyboarding. Kids can learn to type fast enough to keep up with their thoughts and what they write will be legible. Understanding teachers will often allow young gifted children to do their work on a computer.

You may worry that your child will never learn to write neatly if they always write using a computer. That may be true, but chances are their minds will never slow down enough to do the kind of writing practice that leads to neat handwriting.

Disclaimer: My own handwriting is horrible. It used to be tolerable, but it moved beyond tolerable long ago. It is close to illegible these days. If I slow down enough to make it legible (even to me), I run the risk of forgetting what I planned to write. Give me a keyboard any day. If I absolutely have to use a pen and paper, I can do it, but don’t ask me to hand write a whole paper (or blog).

Carol BainbridgeAbout GiftednessGifted Traits
Calling the handwriting of some gifted children 'chicken scratches' is an insult to chickens everywhere. Seriously, their handwriting can be nearly undecipherable and can cause numerous problems in school. For example, some teachers will say that five-year-old Johnny is not ready to move into first grade because he can't...