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Special Needs and Learning Difficulties

Can apps be good for teaching handwriting?

Some apps can be very useful for teaching handwriting and are particularly helpful for kids with dysgraphia. They can help kids learn how to recognize letters and how to correctly form both print and cursive letters. The beauty of these apps is that they add creativity and rewards to keep kids engaged in a task that can easily become frustrating.

Handwriting apps for younger kids also can help with literacy. These apps typically include the Dolch vocabulary: the list of sight words commonly used in early education as a foundation for reading fluency. Most handwriting apps also offer a variety of settings, such as the ability to add your kid's name to the practice activities, the choice of lowercase and uppercase letters, and progress reports to help parents see which letters their kids may be struggling with.

The key to being successful with these apps is having kids practice transferring their work from the tablet to paper and vice versa. Using a stylus with your device also can be helpful because it mimics the experience of holding a pencil, allowing kids to learn pencil grasp rather than only writing with their fingers.

One final note: Ignore those calls to end handwriting practice. Although some folks dispute the importance of learning handwriting, given that kids now can type their work on a variety of devices, many learning specialists believe it's a key skill. Learning print and cursive works both sides of the brain and lets kids practice gross and fine motor skills.

Vicki Windman contributed to this article.