Homeschooling the Dyslexic Child: Handwriting and Copy Work

HAND WRITING: Dyslexic children often reverse letters, writing b instead of d and so forth.  Our son did just that.  We switched him to Cursive First and the problem was immediately eliminated.  Cursive First is a handwriting program that teaches children how to write cursive.  It is intended to be used before they learn to print.

We love the clock face stamp (click link and page down), which helped our dyslexic son learn to form letters properly.  It is hard to write cursive backwards, and so it is a good choice for teaching dyslexics to write.  We laminated the letter cards that came with the program and our son traced over them with a dry erase marker before he started writing letters free-hand.  My younger kids have much better handwriting than our oldest son, who learned to print before he learned cursive.  I think teaching cursive first is a must, and from now on all my children will be learning that long before they learn to print.  In fact, our dyslexic son has the neatest handwriting of them all!

Cursive First can be used with other phonics and reading programs, but it goes hand in hand with Spell to Write and Read (SWR).  SWR is not my favorite program, but it unlocked the door to reading for my dyslexic son, as I explain in this post.  We are not using it anymore, as I personally prefer All About Spelling.  SWR is not, in my opinion, the ideal spelling program for the dyslexic, though many dyslexics have successfully used it and it is better than some of the other programs out there. I found it difficult to teach, and the pace moved too quickly for my son to be successful with it as a long-term spelling program.

The approach was successful in helping him learn to read, however, and for that I am very grateful.  I think SWR has a lot of great things going for it, but AAS was written with the dyslexic in mind, and we have had much better success with it.

DICTATION/COPY WORK: We use All About Spelling to practice taking dictation.  It kills two birds with one stone, allowing our kids to practice their handwriting and their spelling words at the same time.

When my dyslexic son was in 4th and 5th grades we also used Writing with Ease (WWE) for copywork and narration.  WWE is written by Susan Wise Bauer (author of the popular Your Story of the World and The Well Trained Mind books).

There are dictation sentences in the WWE book but many are too difficult, so we only did the other parts of the book.  I love this series, as it incorporates grammar lessons into the copywork, and the stories for narration practice are well-chosen.  My children absolutely loved listening to the narration passages, and always begged to hear them in their entirety.

Many of these classic stories have been recorded as audio books, so we found as many as are available for WWE 1 and WWE 2 and put them on our educational audio website My Audio School.  I have not found the teacher’s manual necessary, so we used the workbooks only.  Photocopying is allowed for personal use, so I copied the necessary pages or had my sons use notebook paper so that the book would be non-consumable.


Pencil grips help our children learn where to place their fingers.  Stetro grips are the most recommended, and they are often used with older children who hold their pencils awkwardly. Heads up Now! sells Stetro grips for 50 cents apiece.

We keep lots of mechanical pencils on hand, as well as refill leads.  Mechanical pencils reinforce gentle pressure.  If the child presses too hard, the lead breaks.  It was hard to get used to these, but my childrens’ writing has greatly improved.  My favorites are the Papermate Sharpwriter disposable mechanical pencils with the twist up lead, and the refillable Paper Mate Mega Lead with its twist up eraser.  Both of these pencils encourage gentle pressure without breaking SO often that the children (and mom!) become overly frustrated


  1. So do you eventually teach print? I have been looking at HWT and getty dubay ?

    • Yes, I do teach print after cursive has been learned. Most of my kids have picked up print on their own without much help. Cursive is the harder skill.


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