Writing is a fairly complex skill , which requires that the person who picks up a pencil and prepares to write, use different cognitive aspects. For example, the simple fact of writing a letter to someone already requires us to think about what we want to convey to the other person, choose the right words to express ourselves as we want, take into account spelling mistakes, etc.
This is why several problems can appear in the world of writing, and it is not surprising that some children have difficulties when it comes to acquiring all the aspects that make up the writing system to express a written language, typical of each language. . Some of the problems may be related to spelling difficulties, others may be due to difficulty in transforming a sound into a letter, and others may be due to difficulty in presenting ideas in an orderly manner.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the problems that appear in writing are included within the so-called Specific Learning Disorders , and are known as Written Expression Disorders that encompass two sections:
Dysgraphia is the writing disorder that hinders the written reproduction of alphabetic and numerical signs, that is, it affects the form or content . This difficulty is a specific learning disorder that manifests itself in children who do not have any neurological or intellectual deficits, nor motor, sensory, affective or social problems. There are two types of related symptoms: the global secondary signs (incorrect posture or use of the pencil, bad pressure or excessively fast or slow speed), and the specific symptoms, which are more related to elements of the graphic such as slanted letters, deformed or with large size, unrecognizable, misuse of links between graphemes, in short, a writing that is difficult to understand.
The main characteristic of this writing difficulty is a specific and significant deficit in spelling , which may be associated with reading disorders. There are different types of difficulty, from the mildest such as the omission or confusion of words, accents, or misuse of grammar rules; even the most serious ones, such as difficulties in converting sounds into words, producing omissions or changes in letters, syllables, words, additions or substitutions.
On the other hand, if there are difficulties when writing words, these may be caused by problems in the lexical routes or in the phonological routes. The lexical path is the direct or visual orthographic path that passes through the lexical-graphic store to retrieve the orthographic representations of the words that have been previously processed. The phonological route is the non-lexical, indirect route, which has to do with the phoneme-grapheme correspondence to be able to transform a sound into a word. In this last route, above all, unknown words or pseudowords are worked.
In addition to the problems that may appear in any of the indicated routes, we can find children who have problems when writing an essay or a story , or children with motor problems. In the first case, children are often unable to generate ideas, organize them coherently, and write correctly using the grammar rules they have learned at their age. In the second case, there is usually a problem in visual-motor coordination that makes it impossible for children to perform fine movements, or there may be problems in fine motor skills, which is the motor program responsible for converting words into visible graphic signs.
HOW CAN THE FAMILY DEAL WITH THESE KINDS OF PROBLEMS?
Learning to write usually begins at the age of 5 or 6, but it is not until the age of 7 or 8 that problems are perceived in some of the aspects previously mentioned.
The first step in learning writing is to know the relationship between speech sounds and written signs (phoneme-grapheme) where the phonological path is involved. Typically, context-dependent rules (g, c) and infrequent rules (x, j, k, etc.) tend to be more difficult to acquire. If any difficulties are observed in this regard, the following recommendations can be carried out:
– Work the letters that are more complicated for the child with shapes of objects, for example the letter “m” is shaped like a mountain. This implies a visual aid that will be very useful for a better mental acquisition.
– For the child to identify the sounds better aurally, it is convenient to work the letters lengthening the sounds of each one.
– Work with words so that the child identifies the phonemes. For example, we pronounce two words aloud and ask the child to say in which words a certain sound is heard (“we have to find out in which words the / mmmmm / is heard:” shadow “,” glove “).
– Expose words for the child to spell.
– Skip syllables so that the child recognizes the missing syllable in a word, (“What sound of limpet has been removed if I say / apa /?”).
PUNCTUATION MARKS CAN BE A BIG CHALLENGE
The use of punctuation marks also becomes a challenge for children who have problems in writing, here are some steps that can be followed at home to improve this aspect:
– The practice of reading aloud, with the company of an adult, highlighting, when they appear, the periods, commas and exclamation or question marks.
– Work at home with dictations, and use signs that are visual and are audibly exaggerated.
To work on the composition of stories or essays , the best method is to take a book in hand and read with the children texts that are easy to understand. Whenever the adult sees fit, they can pause and ask questions about what they are reading, such as “where did it happen?”, “Who is the main character?”, “What has history taught us?” At the same time, it is also possible to work with vignettes that when joined represent a story, so that the child creates a story using words of union or links, first orally and later in writing. In this way, we are not only working on the composition of stories or stories,
Finally, it is convenient to point out the important role that the family plays in children’s learning problems . It is necessary for adults to set an example, in this case it is recommended to read at home in front of children, spend time every day to read with them, be available and attentive to their questions and even make them participate in simple tasks, such as example the shopping list. We have to remember that parents, guardians or family members are the main models that children choose to imitate, and our role at home is essential for them to acquire good habits.