Friday, July 12, 2024

Episode #98: Why Your Child Hates Writing (and How to Help Them Love It!)

It might not be about the writing at all! Discover the hidden reason behind why your child hates writing.
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An Occupational Therapist Discusses Reasons Why Your Child Hates Writing

Show Notes:

It might not be about the writing at all! Discover the hidden reason behind why your child hates writing.

Would you say your child hates writing? They’re not alone! Many children struggle with writing, and it can be frustrating for both them and their parents. This interview offers a fresh perspective, focusing on the underlying reasons behind a child’s writing woes and how to address them.

Forget forcing endless writing drills. Instead, the key is to develop the foundational skills that make writing easier. These skills include sensory processing and gross motor skills. Think jumping on a trampoline, building an obstacle course, or even playing with Play-Doh – all these activities can help your child develop the physical control and sensory awareness needed for writing success.

The interview also explores alternative writing methods for children who dislike traditional pen-and-paper tasks. Dictation software, standing desks, and even exercise balls can all be helpful tools.

If you suspect sensory processing issues are contributing to your child’s writing struggles, occupational therapists can offer valuable support. There are also online resources available to help you learn more about sensory processing and how it impacts writing.

Here’s what you can take away:

  • Ditch the drills: Focus on building the underlying skills that make writing easier.
  • Move it or lose it: Activities that develop sensory processing and gross motor skills are key.
  • Think outside the box: Explore alternative writing methods like dictation or standing desks.
  • Seek help: Occupational therapists can provide valuable support for children with sensory processing issues.
  • Be an advocate: Learn about sensory processing and explain it to others who work with your child.

By understanding the reasons behind your child’s writing struggles and focusing on building the necessary skills, you can help them develop a more positive relationship with writing.

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Music Used:

“LazyDay” by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.


Munira Adenwalla is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist of 25+ years and a home educating mum to a 12 year old. She specializes in sensory processing and thinking outside the box to support parents and their neurodivergent kids to move, learn, and play through fun.

Munira is a strong advocate that parents know their child best. She created the Foundations for Writing program, which uses the No Writing Way(TM) to help writing.

Munira also loves travel, food, and cat sitting with her son.


Episode #98: Why Your Child Hates Writing (and How to Help Them Love It!)

It might not be about the writing at all! Discover the hidden reason behind why your child hates writing.

(Recorded April 10, 2024)

Full Transcript of Interview:

Tonya: Today’s topic is a game changer for parents of children who struggle with writing. Many kids with writing difficulties are actually given more writing practice, which can feel overwhelming and counterproductive. But what if there was a different approach? Enter Munira Adinwalla, a pediatric occupational therapist with over 25 years of experience.

Munira created the revolutionary Foundations for Writing program, which uses the no writing way to help kids develop the essential skills they need to write with confidence. We’re going to dive deep into Munira’s program, explore the connection between sensory processing and writing, and discover how play can unlock a child’s potential for writing.

So buckle up parents, because this episode is packed with practical tips and valuable insights. Munira, welcome to Water Prairie.

Munira: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

So we’re talking today about a topic that I wish I had been able to talk to someone like you about when my son was very young. I can remember the years and the things that I used to try to help ease writing with him, but you created the Foundations for Writing program.

And it uses the no writing way, which really was intriguing to me because I want to find out more about this. And it’s, and you’re using that to help teach or develop writing skills. Can you tell me about what the no writing way is and help our listeners understand that too?

Yeah. So I, um, I, so I call it a no writing way because writing difficulties are usually, we can use that I say, Uh, theory to describe it.

Writing is the tip of the iceberg, and it’s really a reflection of other underlying difficulties that kids have, and the reason, um, what happens usually is people look at the tip of the iceberg, and they look at the writing, and they think, okay, let’s look at the child’s pencil gross. And, and, and fix the way that they hold their pencil.

Let’s put a pencil grip on their pencil and, um, they’ll just hold it right. And then they’ll write, or let’s tell them, um, to hold their pencil this, this way and, or they’ll do lots of writing practice or kids are sometimes put into like a, uh, like a fine motor group to improve the fine motor skills, but it’s not necessarily about any of those skills.

And we need to look deeper to develop. to meet kids at where they’re at and develop those underlying skills, because if those skills are in place, then kids are going to be more comfortable in their body and their hands, hands to write. And there’s a lot of kids who have like writing trauma, um, from being told to write, or sometimes people don’t believe kids that they have these difficulties, because, well, they don’t.

They don’t have these difficulties and it’s not meant in a bad way. So sometimes it’s hard to relate if most people find these things okay to do. And, um, so that they sometimes don’t realize that yes, a child really does have sore hands when they’re writing, or yes, their hands do have sore hands. And yes, this is difficult for them.

Um, and so sometimes we hear comments of, um, like, uh, Oh, they’re just being lazy. Oh, they’re just not trying hard enough. Um, or, or, Oh, they’re not interested. So that’s why they’re not doing it. And it goes along with that, um, saying by Russell. Green and I feel like he’s going to go like down in history with this, say his kids do well when they can, because it’s one of the best, um, um, statements out there really.

And it’s the same for this is that kids do, do they do well when they can. And if they’re not, not, it’s because something is hard about it for them. And we kind of need to listen to them and dive deep and figure out the root cause of these difficulties. And, uh, so that’s why I called it a no writing way because when I want to kind of raise awareness and help and prevent kids from going through that, that trauma and for kids to enjoy the creation because of writing, because it’s not necessarily just the mechanical aspect of writing, writing is so much more than that.

It’s also that creativity of it and having fun with it is really important. So, um, yeah, that’s, that’s, why I called it this no writing way. And also people weren’t believing me when I said we’re going to use like, we’re not going to do any writing to help your child writing. They’re like, Oh, really? No, like facing or like writing practice.

I’m like, no, we’re not doing any, any of that. We’re going to really figure out the root cause and start from there. To develop the underlying skills, and then when they’re ready, they, it will, when you know you can do it, you’re more likely to do it. And it’s not a cognitive knowing, it’s just you feel that you’re able to, in your body and your hands, you’re more ready and then you’ll do it.

And that’s when they’re also going to be more ready to do more writing work, if that’s the route that you want to go down.

So like, what is it, what does it look like when you’re working with a child? Cause, cause a lot of parents are going to be very familiar with you saying, you know, we’re going to do writing drills. We’re going to, to practice this page writing a 20 times, you know, before you go to the next one.


So you’re talking about not doing that. So what does it really look like instead?

Yeah. So I’m talking about, um, kind of looking at two different ways of helping, helping kids. One is we can look at a top down approach, which is where you look at strategies to help the child. If they’re going to school, for instance, um, you might look at strategies to help them in, in school.

in the now to be able to dealing with, um, keeping up with what you’re doing at school and finding other ways for them to write, but without writing maybe. So it might be having like a scribe or it might be doing typing or it might be doing text to speech or it might be like putting like scrabble pieces together to make up words or so finding just other ways that you can Do, do the work, but where’s at, where children are at, if that makes sense.

Um, and so those are what I call a top down strategies to help you do what you do, do that, do the work and be with your peers and do what you enjoy. And then I look at bottom up strategies, which doesn’t look anything like writing practice. And so when we work at bottom up, we go all the way to the most underlying skills. And. Are you familiar with the pyramid of learning?

It has been so long. I know I’ve heard of it before, but I cannot remember much. So, so remind me.

Yeah. I’m going to give you my abridged version of it. Okay. So, um, so the pyramid model, um, pyramid model of learning, it’s, by, um, Taylor and Trott, and I think it’s 1991, just, just for, for reference.

Um, and it’s, it’s this, uh, pyramid model, and it shows what the most underlying skills are that come before, like, reading, writing, and, and learning. And the first level starts with sensory processing skills. And so, for me, that looks at things like, um, how, it’s how you process, um, sensory information and make sense of information from your senses.

But it’s not just your taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. It’s also your, um, sense of your muscles and joints, which is what we call, uh, proprioception, which is, if, if you like words, the word probe means own, like O W N, so it’s like your own body. So, it’s a sense of your own body. body. Um, so that’s one of the centers we look at.

And then we look at your sense of movement, which tells you where your body is and your sense of balance and your sense of center. Um, and, um, so we start with sensory processing, which is, so knowing where your body is and your body awareness. And then after that, it looks at skills like core strength. And having stability in your body, in your core.

So you have a strong, steady core and center of center. And then that will help you to move your hands and your fingers. Um, because if you, if you’re not strong here, it’s really hard to hold yourself together or hold yourself upright. And you need to have this. So, I’m going to be doing a really strong kind of steady base here so that you can move your hands and fingers more easily.

So, if you, if you just, this is an exercise I do quite a bit in some of the workshops I do. I have people just kind of really slouch their bodies, and then we kind of lift our hands and wiggle your fingers. And you’ll see, and then we sit up straight and do the same thing and wiggle your fingers. And you just notice which one feels a little bit easier and in which position do you have a bit more wiggle in your fingers.

And so for me, I, I feel more ease off movements and more, more wiggle in my fingers when I’ve got, when I’m sitting more or when I am more upright. And that’s because this is holding you steady so that you can do more and lift your arms. more. So that’s the core strength aspect. So we had, okay, so back to this pyramid model of learning, we have sensory processing, then we have core strength.

And then after that, when you have this steady base, that’s when often children will start developing more fine motor skills. Um, and, uh, so that comes next. So that’s when we start doing like, Um, working on hand, hand, um, strength and hand coordination. So it’s not, it’s almost like, um, it’s not as helpful to work on fine motor skills until you’ve got all the other bits in place first.

And after fine motor skills comes eye hand coordination or visual motor skills. And then after that comes, um, Things like, uh, learning skills, I call it, like reading and, and writing and concentrating and focusing and problem solving and planning and sequencing and all those other more kind of, um, learning related skills.

So that’s what it looks like when I use a no writing wave, I start all the way at the bottom with a sensory processing first. Then we develop, develop core, core stability, and then we do fine motor and eye hand coordination activities. But I, I do it in kind of, in, in that order or that, that sequence, uh, starting with the whole body first.

It’s really interesting. Now, last year I had a guest on, um, Kristen Jaslowich, and she talked about the, the eight senses. So you’ve referred to those same, same ones again. So listeners, I’ll put a link here for you if you want to go back and hear that, but finish listening to this one first, and then you can go back and, and, and dig, dig deeper into the senses that she’s talking about.

Um, I found it really interesting. I had never really thought about those being called senses, but you’re right. You, you go beyond just using the, the five that, that, that, that you learn about in kindergarten, but there is more.

Yeah. And those are your, um, external body senses. Um, those taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing.

And then your internal body senses would be this proprioception, which is knowing where your body is in space. And then your vestibular sense and your interoception is, which is, um, Being able to feel things inside of you, like feeling your emotions when you feel calm or when your emotions are boiling up, or if you’re feeling hungry or sleepy, and if you have to go to the loo or, um, have or go pee or something like that.

Um, so those are all like in internal senses and, uh, it’s, those are the, we forget about, uh, but inside. That, that vestibular sense is really big for, uh, reading and writing as well because your vestibular sense, sense, um, so this is a sensory system in, in your body and when it, in the brain, it’s within, it’s within the ears, so it sends connections to your eyes, to your, and to your ears, so it has a knock on effect on things like, uh, concentration and, and can help support auditory processing, um, and also movements of the eyes as well. So, uh, they kind of interplay together. So this is how when you use a no writing way, you start with sensory processing. It might look like you’re just doing like crawling and climbing and obstacle courses and like tug of war or pushing, pulling games or like, uh, any kind of movement and jumping and crashing and things like that.

It might look like you’re just playing, but you’re actually working on those foundational skills. and developing that awareness in, in the body to feel, feel where you are and, uh, starting with the whole body. And once you, your whole body is more activated, then you can, um, get more isolated control of your hands and your fingers.

It says, as you’re sharing all of this, I’m thinking back to, now my kids are 21 and 23 now, but I’m thinking back to those early years for them. So Emily’s my, my first, when she was three years old, she was beginning to read. She understood. The letters and the sounds and started putting things together just on her own and came to me one day and was just asking me, does this say this, does this say that?

So by four, she was reading the, the, the early book series for children and, and could read them to us by sight, but she also started writing at that point. And by, before she was five, she was writing short paragraphs and stories on her own. Now that’s early for a child to do, but Emily’s also visually impaired.

So for her, and this is looking at her, this is how it seemed to me at the time. She was developing those fine motor skills early because that was easy for her. It was close by. She could see it. She could, she could grasp it, but she didn’t run or jump and hop as early. She was more, um, We had to work more with OT with her for those larger gross motor skills to develop them.

And so it was kind of flip flop for her. And I think a lot of it was because of the visual impairment that she was working through at the time and a lot of sensory issues going on too. My son, almost two years behind her, developed all the gross motor skills early, but then when we got into school, we realized that he did have a writing disability.

And even now it’s still painful for him to hold a pencil. And he went through those years of teachers making him use the pencil grip and practice. They tear up his paper and make him start over again, you know, all those things. And I knew that wasn’t right either. So at home, I would. I, I, I’ve shared this before in our kitchen, we have a porch that’s been finished on the other side of the kitchen and there’s a sliding glass door there.

So it doesn’t go outside. It just goes into another room. So I took, um, white sheets of butcher paper and taped it on the other side of the, of it and gave him a dry erase marker. And when he was in elementary school, I would have him write his homework. on this huge glass door because I knew his gross motor skills were easy for him.

It was the fine motor skills. So he could hold it however he wanted to. And he could write his letters, however, but he would get all of his words done and I would take a picture of it and send it to his teacher. I figured the worst case is they would say no. So intuitively, I think I did help him with that, but we were still kind of uncovering what the root cause was at that time.

And I think, um, I was just going to say, it’s amazing how parents do know intuitively how to support their kids often. And that’s what you, you did it sounds like, um, with, with your son. Um, and I, I often say that I think parents do have a deep gut instinct of what to do with their, their kids. And in my work I kind of put words to it and science to it. And that helps you one, um, know that yes, I’m doing the right thing. And two, it, it just gives you the, the terminology and the, the science and a way to kind of encourage you to do it more and to advocate with, with that information.

But I, I love how you knew what to do. And I was just thinking, it sounds like you, you had kids that had different opposite needs.

They were totally opposite. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve, um I was just saying for, it’s that, that processing, whereas some kids, um, are, uh, they have, um, They are under responsive to sensory input, where they need lots of that sensory input and whole body movement.

And then there’s some kids who are more responsive to it, so they might be more sensitive to that whole body movement. And it sounds like that’s what you, you maybe saw. I’m guessing, uh, with kids, uh, yeah.

So, so my, my daughter was the one who one therapy session was just taking her down a sliding board and having her scream every single time until the therapist could finally get her just to calm down enough to go down a slide.

So, so she was working on totally different sensory issues. She had a full sensory diet in preschool. So, so the kids were very different than that. And it’s part of why we wanted to start the podcast because having two children that were so different with different, different situations altogether, we learned a lot as parents about how to ask questions.

How to find help. And we, we were just stumbling along like, like most of our listeners are. You just, you don’t know, cause no child comes with a handbook and when they have special needs, you even need another handbook that doesn’t, doesn’t exist yet. And so we’re hoping through having these different conversations that parents who are listening can start learning and start knowing how to ask questions and, and when to say, you know, yeah, I’m doing a good job.

I need to keep doing this. And, um, so it’s nice what you’re sharing, but what I was thinking when you were, when you were talking earlier. We were talking about the senses and about how the, the auditory signals are triggering how the visuals triggering our children who have, who are deaf and hard of hearing or our children who are visually impaired.

How does that factor into the skills that we’re talking about? Does, do they, do they compensate in a different way or does it just take longer for them to start learning these skills?

Yeah, I think it depends on, on, on the visual impairment. So, uh, for instance, nowadays, there’s, um, cortical visual impairment, for instance, that’s, that’s one that you see quite a lot in, in, in children.

And you’ll often find that sometimes the kids might be sensitive to, um, this vision and visual information because their, their vision is fluctuating quite, quite a lot. But at the same time, I, I feel that the vision is like the first, um, um, sense of, uh, first area and that’s kind of having a knock on effect on other areas because they’re, they might be sensitive to sound as well.

And I know for me, if I take my glasses off, I cannot hear people as well. Um, and I, if I want to really listen to what you’re saying, I, I put my glasses on first thing in the morning and then I take them off right before I go to bed. So if I, I cannot, Yeah, as well without my glasses and it’s that visual and all these systems, they really impact affect each other and what work together for you to make sense of your wealth.

And then also the vision system, it can affect your movement system as well. And your sense of balance and feeling steady and secure. So often kids with a visual impairment, you will find they’re also sensitive to movement, but it’s understandably so if what you’re seeing around you is kind of moving around or not, not looking as a steady for you.

So that must affect your balance. And I think that’s why sometimes you might see some, some of these children needing to have things kind of close than within proximity. And that’s why they’re not reaching their body out further. Away because, uh, it’s then they have to shift their vision and their visual field. So it makes movement a lot harder in that sense. So I think all of these senses really impact on, on each other and, um, maybe a bit differently for different, different people.

So you talked earlier about how the sensory processing. Is connected with the writing disabilities for some of our students if they haven’t really established those skills yet beyond writing, can working on the sensory processing skills, can they address other areas of development for the children to.

So this is a really great question. So I have this, uh, program where I help help parents help their kids develop these underlying skills. And some of the other things we see best that comes before, before the, um, being more interested in choosing and wanting to write is that the kids will be more stronger in their body.

Um, parents say often that their child is like swimming more or they’re climbing more, or all of a sudden they’ve scaled up the rock and along with. This, uh, increased strength in their body also comes more, more confidence. And, uh, and some, some parents have said, for instance, their child is more comfortable being outside with other people.

And I think it’s that once they can feel where their own body is, they can sense where their body is, where other people’s body is and where they are related to other people in, um, things around them. So they’re making sense of, like, space around them. And then, uh, some, uh, often you’ll also see more, more balance to do things and more, um, so being able to, uh, like ride bikes or scooters and do other, other physical activities.

And for some kids, it’s they feel more grounded and, um, like, uh, karma in, in their body to be doing things while being more still as well, because kids who need a lot of sensory feedback it’s hard for them to sit still. So that’s one of the things you often hear. Oh, my child won’t even sit still to write.

Um, and those are your kids who are, who need a lot of sensory feedback to their body. To, to drive them and, uh, without it, it’s hard for them, uh, to, to do things or kids who often sometimes I’ll say sometimes that kids love Lego and are really good at Lego, but it’s difficult for them to hold the pencil to write.

And it’s that, that Lego gives that resistive sensory feedback to your muscles and your joints. So you can. Yeah. Feel your hands and fingers more. So yeah, so sometimes these are some of the skills you’ll see on the way, or kids or parents will say their child got dressed, um, and put their clothes on or put their socks on, or started to use cutlery.

Um, and so these are some of the skills that many skills come before, before writing. And, uh, uh, it’s, yeah, it’s kind of, my favorite one is to hear about the confidence, that kids have more confidence.

I never thought about it too, that, you know, a child whose core strength is weak, they’re going to get tired of sitting and trying to hold themselves. So now adding to have to balance with if they’re leaning on the table to have to now lift a hand and right. Yeah. There’s a lot that factors into that. And how squirmy do we get if we sit at a dinner party too long and we want to get up and walk around? Yeah.

Yeah. And I’m, I’m standing as we speak right now and I cannot sit for long either. I actually get a backache when I sit for too, too long. And I sat for me standing and I can kind of move my body a little bit at the same time, uh, helps me. As well. And I almost think it would, wouldn’t it be nice for schools to have like standing places in their schools as well. It’d be nice to have little, uh, like standing section for the kids that want to stand and then move.

It could just be an okay thing or like a normal thing to just go from sitting to standing and regulate yourself when you need that. I think we’d have a lot more difficulties, um, then,

or at least have a spot in the back of the room where they could move to if they needed to stand and come back to their seat or something.

Yeah. Yeah. Something like that. Um, or like using clipboards and stuff to be standing and walking around, uh, and, um, they say that sitting is like one of the, um, I think I’ve read somewhere that it’s like smoking almost. It’s like the next kind of, it’s just so, so, um, makes it really difficult, uh, to be sitting for so long and we shouldn’t be sitting that, that long.

Um, and even for like, um, I read some about, uh, um, I think it was Bowen therapy or something like that, where they talk about. Getting up, up and off the floor. So getting on the floor and up and off the floor and really working your body to being able to do that. And when kids are sitting in chairs, like for most of the day at, at school and recess and break time is all made a little bit shorter and not as often, or there’s not as much playground stuff.

on playgrounds now. So kids are really being made to sit a lot. And I’ve actually, I feel like kids are really a lot more stiffer in their bodies now as, as well. And you see a lot more stiffness, like in their lower back and in their hamstrings and in their legs. And it’s probably because they’re sitting in this position where their legs are kind of shortened by sitting in the chair like that versus when you’re standing and your legs and your muscles are longer and aligned. So it’s uh, uh, yeah, I feel like sitting is a big detriment. Um,

I’m thinking back to my son, his third grade year was when his writing was really starting to, to show that it was falling behind his peers. And that was the year he was diagnosed with dysgraphia.

He had a teacher who would rip up his paper, tell him in front of the class that, that he spelled things wrong and to start over again. And then because he wouldn’t finish it at the same time as his peers, he would have to sit on the sidewalk and P. E. and not get to go out to recess. So he didn’t even get his exercise on those days.

And I’m thinking it just made it worse. because now you’re, now he’s never getting to use that, that, that whole body motion. Cause now he’s restricted to a square on the sidewalk.

Yeah. And I think if, if teachers perhaps knew, um, more about these underlying skills and maybe they knew that really recess is what’s going to like fill up the child’s cup.

Again, and if you all them to be able to continue with their day, they maybe wouldn’t be doing this, but they don’t really know. And, um, they’re, uh, sometimes they might think that the child’s just not trying hard enough instead. And that’s kind of a big reason why I do what I am doing is I want, I would love for more people to know that because it’s really, it’s so much writing that that’s the writing trauma.

That you see, and some kids can handle it a bit more than others and, um, but they shouldn’t have to handle it either. Um, so, uh, yeah, that’s, I, I think it’s partly, uh, I think teachers want to do as well as they can, and they are really doing as well as they can with, with what’s available to them. They probably need more support and resources as well.

And. more, um, just more, more knowledge about these things. We should ideally, in an ideal world, world, we’d all be working together, um, often and regularly, isn’t it? And then we’d be able to pull out the best of what we know and put it together kind of. So, um, yeah.

Well and we have, we have educators who listen to the podcast. So, um, so they’re hearing what you’re sharing with them now, which is good, but I’m thinking too, as we’re talking, we’re, we’re talking about building those underlying skills, getting the child strong, and then. After those things are done, then now they’re ready to work on the writing and to get in there.

But this could take some time for a child. So how do you address the concerns of a teacher and a parent both that while we’re working on this with little Johnny, he’s now falling more behind his peers. So should we not be doing writing drills in addition to this? How, how, how are we gonna make sure that he doesn’t get behind more because he’s having to catch up with these other skills?

Yeah, and I, I, I think one by, um, having kids do more of it, it’s not really, they’re not doing it more comfortably with, with their body. They’re still going through pain and, and, um, to, to do it, you know, their, their hands are more sore, their body’s uncomfortable. And when your body is uncomfortable and your hands are sore, your brain can’t really work as well.

Anyways, because it’s, um, not, um, you have to have a comfortable body and feel safe to, to be able to learn. Right. So that’s, that’s, I think having these, that’s when we need accommodations in place to, to help kids and find another way that there’s always another way to do, do, do some of these, these things.

They’re finding another way of doing it. So if it’s, even if it’s like they need to have the worksheet in front of them all printed out and having, um, whatever the material is in, and you just circle what you need to do, um, or put a sticker on it or, um, or, or you do a fill in the blank or have like a partner to do most of the writing, who is like your daughter, we need someone like your daughter to be the partner, you know?

And that’s quite nice. So you’re highlighting like different kids strengths. As, as well, and that you can work together to do things and also having sensory strategies in, interspersed in your day to do things. So having a different way to be, um, learning than sitting. So it could be standing in, in the back, or it, it might be having like, uh, different stations in the room that like movement stations where you can go between and do your learning in different movements.

Um, ways, or it might be that a child who met all the kids probably need some kind of movement break. So doing some kind of movement or a little, um, uh, movement activity with all of the kids. And I think a lot of these things are beneficial for everybody. Not just the one child. And we don’t want to single out kids anyways, because then sometimes kids don’t want to do the strategies because they feel that something is wrong, wrong with them.

And why are they the only ones that have to? And so I, I think part of it’s also really highlighting that these are just differences with the whole, whole classroom, that everyone has differences and different ways of learning and doing and being, and all of these ways are, are okay as well.,

I think this, this is good because I think it’s good for us to understand that it’s like, I think a key part of what you just said is every child is going to benefit from these modifications. So if a classroom has a child who needs to work on these extra skills.

Every child can work on those same skills. And by modifying the environment itself so that you have more activity, more movement around the room, then, and a lot of our younger grades are doing that naturally. Your, your first couple of years of school, when, when I’ve been in the classroom, we would have stations around, you know, where, you know, Yeah.

Every 15 minutes they would all change to something different and one would be a physical type activity, one would be a writing activity, one, you know, one may be a listening activity, but then they’re moving around the room and partnering them together would be an easy way to do it too. I liked when you mentioned using tiles or, you know, having something that they’re moving it together.

So that becomes maybe a puzzle from cut up pieces of, you Of the paper, putting it back together where there, it doesn’t have to be an expensive activity. So no, these, these are, these are great, great, great ideas. You’re, you’re sharing here.

Yeah. And I, um, I’m going to go in another, not a fully full tangent, just a tiny, tiny tangent. But is that also for kids? It could be that just kids knowing that, uh, encouraging kids that they know their bodies that, Oh, it looks, you know, you, you, you need a movement break or you need to move or do it, you know, go do an errand or something. And really just honoring kids and their own bodies. And Johnny needs to do that.

Um, you know, some other kids do this too. And also, um. Uh, so, so really, uh, helping kids to know their own bodies and understand their own bodies. And, um, it’s a way to support their regulation in, in the long run as, as well. And these are all okay. And also for the learning that there are different ways to learn as well, and different kids learn in different ways.

This is how you learn, learn best, then let’s do it this way for you. And so and so can do it, um, a different way. Like they might be fine sitting at the table, you know? Uh, so it could, it could be, uh, I guess they’re big discussions in a way as, as well for, uh, schools and, uh, kids, kids to have, uh, but it’s a way for understanding each other as well.

Well, and what a gift we can give the students in our classes by helping them understand how they learn best. A lot of them aren’t going to know this until they’re much older. But as parents, we see from a young age, how our kids learn, you watch them play with their toys. As an infant, they’re already giving you signals of their best way of learning from those early years, even.

And by the time they’re in preschool and kindergarten, they’re Parents, you’ve had that much time to observe your child and to work with them and play with them. You’re going to know, are they going to sit there and examine it, looking at it first? Are they going to shake it first or are they going to throw it across the room first?

There’s those, those ways of playing or how they’re going to be learning because they’re learning the world early. So if we can, if we can help them put a name to it, it’s even better.

Yeah. I love that. Um, yeah.

Well, I’m going to transition our conversation a little bit here. The, our listeners who’ve been with us for a while, they, they know this already, but I’ve been having during season three of having each of my guests give some advice by finishing an open ended statement.

And Muneera, I’m going to give you three statements that I’m going to read aloud and have you repeat them after me, but then you’re going to finish the statement with whatever you want to finish it with. And there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s however you want to finish it. Okay. Great. Okay. Yeah.

So, um, so the first one we have, I’m going to talk some more after this, but I wanted to, to make sure that I get this in there. So the first one that I have for you is when a child struggles with writing, the most important thing for parents to remember is.

Okay. So when a child struggles with writing, the most important thing for a parent to remember is that it’s, uh, not about the writing, that the writing is the tip of the iceberg and it’s really about underlying skills and that the child is doing the, I’m sneaking in the second one, I guess, as a child is doing the best that they can with the skills that they have, uh, always.

Nice, nice. I like that. Okay. So second one, instead of forcing writing practice, parents can support their child’s writing development by

Okay. So instead of, sorry, can you say it again?

Yes. Instead of forcing writing practice, parents can support their child’s writing development by

So instead of, uh, forcing writing practice, parents can support their child’s writing by, uh, developing their underlying sensory, uh, and motor skills.

And starting with the whole, whole body. So even before you’re doing writing at home, or if you’re doing writing homework at home, you could have your child doing some like jumping, jumping on the trampoline or doing some little kind of obstacle course or some kind of whole body movement first to prepare the whole body to be ready for, uh, uh, more, more comfortable and ready for writing.

So are you saying that even, even after they’re, they’ve established some of these skills that they need? Um, maybe before doing homework, it would be good to do those activities first and then to sit down.

Yeah. Yeah. So doing like a, a, a, like a five, five minute or 10, 10 minutes of that, but actually homework is quite, I think kids need maybe a bit more time sometimes to unwind after school and get back into, to doing homework because it’s, this is another whole tangent, uh, but because they’re doing so much writing and been working so hard at school already, I almost feel that they shouldn’t be having any writing homework.

By the time they get home, because many of these kids are really exhausted already from having to work so hard at home. They need time to unwind and then also time to kind of preserve their relationship with their family and family not having to force them because it’s so difficult as well. But, um, I think doing some kind of whole body activity before doing, uh, writing work is, is helpful or even having some kind of sensory support or doing it another way, like you were doing writing while standing up.

Uh, or as for some kids that might be sitting on a ball, for instance, uh, um, and, or so for some kids that might be having the parent be scribing for them for their homework.

Right. Right. When you had mentioned earlier to dictation, so parents pull out your smartphone, they can dictate into your notes and then Use, use that.

I, I like that as well. Okay. So I have a third one for you. If a parent suspects their child has sensory processing issues impacting their writing, they should.

Okay. So if a parent suspects their child has sensory processing difficulties that impact their writing, they should, uh, one, uh, you can look for an occupational therapist. to, to help, help you with, um, to, uh, dive deeper into your child’s sensory processing and make, make sense of it. And, or you can look for, um, there’s lots of programs online where you can learn more as well, because I know that there’s some places in the.

Uh, country or world where you may not access an occupational therapist or there’s wait lists. And, uh, but there are, there’s more people working in the online, online space. So that would be my thing is, is that, and then second is you may have to do a bit more advocating for your child and teaching other people about it as well, because they may not understand it.

So you may have to ex, ex, explain more to other people that, uh, work with your child and support your, your child and, um, uh, be, be their voice for them.

All right. That’s, that’s all, all three of those were great advice. I appreciate you sharing those with us. Before we go, I did want you to tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing. Um, some of your coaching and stuff and also how our listeners can contact you.

Yeah, so I have, um, uh, three things. One is I have a, uh, uh, uh, three, uh, uh, helping kids write a Facebook group. And this is where I teach about the, uh, no writing way. And we have a really lovely community of other parents in, in there as well. So it’s a place where parents can know that there are other parents like them.

So you, Um, no, feel that you’re not alone. And it’s a place where you see other kids and you’re like, Oh, that looks like my child. And I haven’t seen someone that looks like my child before. So it’s really nice in that sense to not, um, to have a community like, like that as well. And then I share lots of that information about the no writing way in there.

So that’s my, uh, helping kids write Facebook. And then I have every three months I run a free workshop called Beyond Pencil Grasp. And it’s where we, we dive a lot deeper into the sensory processing piece and how that impacts on, on writing. And we look at how, uh, go through each of the senses in more detail and, uh, how it looks, may look for your, your child and some steps that you can do.

And that leads up to. My, uh, paid program, which is called Foundations for Writing, which is a 10 weeks, uh, parent, uh, group coaching program where I have, uh, video tutorials for each of these levels of, of that pyramid model of learning for, for kids and I have, uh, it’s actually quite fun because I’ve got videos of my son and I doing the activities so parents can see how to do it.

With, with their child as well. So we have video tutorials and video demonstrations of activities and zoom Q and A’s where we get to all chat and hang out together and support each other and a private Facebook group. So that’s my foundation for writing program. Now working on a teacher’s helping kids write toolkit, um, to, uh, to, uh, work together with teachers to.

To be able to look at these underlying skills and have some ideas of what to do. So, uh, that’s, that’s my, um, project. I’m working on a book as well to write so I can write more about, about this and other people can access it wherever, wherever they are. So it’s my way of advocacy, uh, for, for kids.

So contact for you the best way is through the Facebook group?

Yeah, I think so. Yes. Um, I do have a website as well. Um, so I, I do, uh, one to one parent consults as well. So that’s through my website. It’s ot4kids. co. uk.

Okay, great. We will put the links to all of these on the show notes. So if you’re listening on the podcast platforms, you may need to go to the website, but there’ll be a link to the webpage.

There, a lot of them aren’t public. aren’t posting the, all of the notes for me. If you’re watching on YouTube, then look in the description. Um, all the links will be there. And if you’re on the website, it’s already there in front of you. So you’ll be able to see it. So we’ll make sure it makes sure it gets there.

And, um, listeners, if you have any questions about this, contact her directly, send us an email to info at water prairie. com. We’ll get it to her. Um, leave, leave a comment. Leave your questions in the comments. We want to make sure that we’re serving you as best as we can. So, you know, this, this may have brought up some questions that you have that you want to find out more about.

So, so let us know what your questions are. We, we will continue with this and I, we’ve, we’re developing this panel of experts and Muneer has agreed to be on the panel. So. If you have questions related to this, let us know. We’ll, we will send them to her and see if we can, can get a direct answer for you.

Yeah. I’m happy to answer people’s questions afterwards as well, if they have about this topic. So, yeah.

Excellent. So, Manureh, thank you for spending this time and, and sharing all of this with me. I would love to have known you when my kids were younger, cause you, you would have helped me get through a lot of these questions that I had to try to figure out on my own.

So, so thank you. And I know you’re going to help a lot of other parents that are listening here.

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been really fun chatting with you.

Tonya Wollum


Tonya Wollum is a disability advocate and host of the Water Prairie Chronicles podcast which connects special needs parents with resources to help them navigate parenting a child with a disability. She is the mother of 2 college-age children who have each grown up with a disability. That experience, along with a background in education, led her to create the Water Prairie Chronicles to help share what she has learned with parents of younger children to help them know how to advocate for their children.

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