Comments: An Indicator of his Future Career?

When I was a junior in high school, my handwriting was so bad that I decided to print all my notes, test answers etc. My printing is still bad, especially when I try to hurry, but it is much more legible than my handwriting. At the age of 60 I still print.

Posted by Jay Stribling at June 1, 2010 10:21 PM

Definitely sounds like some handwriting therapy is needed. I'd normally say, as long as he can type, spell, and use reasonable grammar, then his handwriting shouldn't be a big deal, not in the computer age. But if he can't even decipher his own written notes, then some outside help may be in order.

Which brings up another question: is there any purpose of writing in cursive anymore, other than to impress someone with your dated skill?

Posted by diamond dave at June 1, 2010 10:41 PM

That's pretty interesting, actually...and I'm sorry to hear he's having such a difficult time. I don't know how much of a help this will be but my humble suggestion is perhaps he can try writing exercises. I think my handwriting -- I write only in print, all caps -- is excellent. It doesn't look unlike the writing you see in bubble captions in comic books. So maybe he can look at other handwriting, as a sort of a template, and try to follow along, maybe even trace over it, and practice for however long it takes until -- or if -- he [hopefully] improves and it becomes habitual. My adult handwriting (I used to write in cutesy, girly, bubbly letters, make those stupid junior high school a's and put hearts over my i's) didn't take shape until I was a sophomore in high school and I saw my friend Adam's handwriting and loved it so much that my handwriting, to this day, is a variant of his. Anyhow, just a suggestion. Whatever it is, I hope something works.

Posted by Erica at June 1, 2010 10:50 PM

I'm sorry. He will have to go to med school.

Posted by PeggyU at June 2, 2010 03:55 AM

By the way, if you find a cure to this, please pass it my way. Our middle son also has this problem. He can write neatly if he prints and goes very slowly, but that doesn't cut it for writing essays on tests. It throws him into a panic when he has to write more than a couple of sentences longhand. I have to admit, I don't set a very good example either.

Posted by PeggyU at June 2, 2010 03:58 AM

TO much to write here. Call me. Remember my son with dysgraphia. The writing disorder. Yaa, I have special pencils, special exercises, and more. It literally gets painful for him to write a lot. There are different levels of dysgraphia...

Posted by vwbug at June 2, 2010 04:48 AM

His printing is JUST as bad. His printing is illegible too. They BOTH are awful... hence our issue. His one teacher told him he has to print everything... and that's great, but he found it's irrelevant.

VW- Yeah, I've been looking at dysgraphia and wondering if that's what he has... we'll talk.

Posted by bou at June 2, 2010 05:30 AM

My son's handwriting is horrific and I (as well as all his teachers) thought that he was just lazy. When his behaviors got him thrown out of school I had him tested and discovered (going into his junior year of high school no less) that he had a MAJOR non-cognitive learning disability. His verbal skills are in the top 2% but his graphic, math, and executive functioning skills are in the bottom 5%. Because he is so quick and so verbally sharp, he had been able to cover all those years. Bottom line, he can't write and should have had Occupational Therapy from the time he could grab a pencil. Some ideas, has your son tried his other hand? My son, we discovered, can write with both and since he did not develop bad habits with his other hand it seems it adapts to the exercises much easier due to the neural networking. Has he tried back slanting? This is when you are writing with the right hand but your slant goes to the left not right. My handwriting was as bad as my son's in college but I compensated by doing a back slant which was easier for me to write quickly and was more legible. What about the triangular shaped pen and seemed easier for my son to grasp. Printing? Ours is much clearer and we developed a short hand style for note taking with alot of abbreviations. Good luck!

Posted by janeyek at June 2, 2010 06:10 AM

My handwriting is horrible too. I type or print, and don't even attempt cursive any more. I hate it when I have to write on a blackboard for public consumption, it's embarrassing. But at least "I" can understand it. I wish I had a solution for your son.

Posted by George P at June 2, 2010 09:27 AM

Not that I can suggest anything that might actually do any good, but my ex had a raging case of dysgraphia. His hand was steady as a rock until you put a pencil/pen in it - then it began to shake like the San Andreas faultline. Ho0pe you can find something that will help your oldest.

Posted by Mirmie at June 2, 2010 09:34 AM

have you considered having him learn engineering lettering?

when I took engineering drawing a couple years ago, it drastically changed the way I write.

Posted by wRitErsbLock at June 2, 2010 11:22 AM

I will echo the above post. My writing was bad through 8th grade. Now, it has evolved to a cross between cursive and printing.

In 9th grade science class I was partnered with a fellow whose note-taking style was to print one letter in each box on the graph paper notebook we used for everything. One box, one letter.

I thought I would try that, because it looked neat. It drove me nuts because it was slow, but I had to learn to control the tool. I abandoned one letter per box, but kept to one line.

Later in the year, mechanical drawing was where I really had to learn to control the tool. We were graded on neatness of lettering as well as the drawings we did. Doing nice drawings and dropping a grade on bad lettering was tough. Made big strides that year.

My son (w/ADD) needs to jump on the handwriting train, as he is in the same boat as yours. Maybe this summer we'll try some different things. Ruler and square, letters in boxes, calligraphy...

Posted by Deen at June 2, 2010 11:54 AM

Writersblock: Do you know of any good resources for learning that style? Thanks!

Posted by PeggyU at June 2, 2010 01:24 PM

Can I chime in with the "my son has the worst handwriting ever"... When he wrote half page letters from boot camp it took me nearly two hours to decode what he was wrote!

If you'd like I can put him in the picture and maybe we can get them in touch with each other... he finally found out how to play the game after being in the military. Perhaps he has some tips for your son. Andy is now in college pulling straight A's. He has the skills - but his handwriting has never improved not to mention his spelling is atrocious. LOL

Also I'm not sure if you could bring it to the attention of the powers that be in the school and see if they could make some accommodation for him. Perhaps if you can find an occupational therapist who can give it a name and a medical type diagnosis - that would help get the school to work with you - they always "say" they want to help... heh.

Posted by Teresa at June 2, 2010 03:10 PM

The one thing that improved my printing was the logs I had to write when watch-standing in the Navy. Every 15 minutes I had to post an entry with the time and current status. Since I was so bored at standing fire-watch, I filled out the log-book as slowly as I could, just to take up the time. My printing still has its quirks (especially when I get in a hurry) but at least it's legible to myself and others. Not sure if your boy could try something like this, maybe carry a ledger with him and log his activities throughout the day. Hope this helps.


Posted by Johnny - Oh at June 2, 2010 04:08 PM

Just before I began 3rd Grade, we relocated to another state. Much to my dismay, the teaching of cursive writing was a 2nd Grade accomplishment in the new school, so I was a year behind. Printing was verboten, so I had to play catchup ASAP, and missed out on weeks & weeks of drills and practice. The result was hideous cursive, and sloppy printing. It never got much better, and I prefer not to handwrite anything if I can help it.

There wasn't much else available for me other than repetitive drills and copying long passages from a book to try and improve my writing. Didn't help much.

Perhaps he can learn shorthand?

Posted by El Capitan at June 2, 2010 05:30 PM

I side with wRitErsbLock. I was nearly held back in elementary school due to bad penmanship. (I had to do 2-3 lettering books over the summer and present each one to the principal after finishing them.)

In 8th grade I finally took Mechanical Drawing and really learned to print. (From that I also learned why my Dad's younger brother only wrote in print manuscript.) That took my note taking from squiggles on the page (that I couldn't read either) to almost recognizable words. In truth, when I want my writing to be readable, I draw the letters.

During my high school years (the age of aquarius), I converted the print manuscript into a form of print italic (which can be strung together into a sort of cursive).

I would suggest that Ringo learn to letter through a Mechanical Drawing class (could be done as home schooling) and possibly take a calligraphy class. Its all a muscle memory thing anyway and he will have to practice to improve what little handwriting he has.

You might also get him a "Pentel" pencil for use in class (if the school will allow).

(Now where did I put my Mechanical Drawing text book? Ringo would only need a couple of pages from it to get going.)

Posted by The Thomas at June 2, 2010 10:04 PM

(1) Try a package of "gel ink" pens; they draw much darker, require less pressure, and I find my handwriting is better with them.
(2) To get really nice handwriting, quit using your wrist and fingers to move the pen. Use you whole arm and the motions will be much smoother. A side effect is that your writing will be larger.
(3) This is the kind of thing they will teach you in art school, so try signing up for a drawing class.

Posted by Carl Brannen at June 2, 2010 10:18 PM

Uh, "gel ink" pens use a thicker ink. So the cartridge is about 50% thicker than a regular ball point ink cartridge. They dry slower than regular ink and are not suitable for lefties as they will smear the ink.

Posted by Carl Brannen at June 2, 2010 10:20 PM

I had terrible writing styles.

I bought these very expensive $22.00 journal books and kept myself a nightly journal. It started out as an effort to remember where I left my car back as a JO.

I have a full round script, a right slant script. A left slant script. Many drunken scripts. All, oddly enough, still quite readable.

I watched "Driving Miss Daisy" again this weekend when the vision blurred, again. Her passing him the Palmer Workbook. I remember the nuns beating into us that one could and would learn to write elegantly. Nobody in this century or the latter half of the last is ever going to write as beautifully as the Civil War letters I have from a son to his father. It was what was taught. from a book.

Posted by Curtis at June 3, 2010 02:50 AM