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My 5th grade student has illegible writing

Language Arts | Writing 


Full Member
I can NOT read his writing. Does anyone have any professional suggestions that I could try with him? Otherwise he will have to type everything and that is not possible with every assignment. Any techniques that have worked for you? Thanks.

Mrs. G

Senior Member
Manuscript or cursive

Is he using manuscript or cursive. If he is writing in manuscript you could teach him cursive. I find that almost all of my 5th graders write better cursive than they do manuscript. There is a program called handwriting without tears that is good for those who struggle.


Senior Member
Perhaps it isn't his fault

Can you have the district OT look his writing and his writing technique?


Senior Member
Check with the OT for any suggestions. I had an OT evaluate my DD because her handwriting was so stinky in 1st grade...she said she wasn't severe enough to work with but managed to notice something I hadn't: DD is double jointed in her fingers! All I'd noticed was how weird she held the grip and it all made sense. It helps to tell the teachers and we worked on strengthening her fingers and using pencil grips to help her hold the pencil in the right position. It's one of those things that you'd think you'd noticed but I hadn't! Her fingers had weak tone and bent in funny directions and her hands would get more tired writing than others so her bad handwriting anyway went downhill fast the more she wrote.
I like the suggestion of teaching cursive...that way if he's picked up bad habits writing manuscript, you don't have to undo the damage already done you just have to teach the right way the first time. Also I think kids in 5th grade tend to want to learn cursive if they haven't learned already.


New Member
Try to look at the way he is holding the pencil because it may be his grip, or it may be the fact that he needs a grip on his pencil or a different type of writing utensil. Another thing could be the surface he is writing on, if it is a flat surface he may need a slanted surface so a clipboard propped up on something may work.