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Gifted but Has Terrible Handwriting
Q: My daughter is six and in the gifted-and-talented program, yet her handwriting is awful. She is a lefty. Should I be concerned? Should I get a tutor?
A: Gifted-and-talented children frequently exhibit what we psychologists call "asynchronous development." This means that the different areas of their development -- physical, intellectual, social, and emotional -- are often not at the same point.
For example, bright, gifted preschoolers may have large vocabularies and already be reading, yet lack the motor skills to write or draw at the same level of proficiency. Gifted-and-talented children are not always gifted across the board -- they may exhibit strengths and weaknesses across subject or skill areas.
Since you indicated that your daughter is in a gifted-and-talented program, there may have been some testing done to determine her eligibility. As a beginning, you might want to contact the school and have them review with you the procedures that were followed to identify those gifts. If tests were given, they may have included information about psychomotor skills, including writing. Those test results may provide clues to your daughter's writing skills.
If there was no testing that focused on psychomotor abilities or writing skills, it may be appropriate to request that the school do some follow-up testing with your daughter to determine the seriousness of the problem.
In states where gifted education is included as a part of special education, an individual educational plan (IEP) may be developed for each child. If so, that plan would address both the strengths and weaknesses of the child and recommend appropriate steps to address any issues of concern. The plan could recommend, for example, enrichment activities in language arts and math, along with additional help in the area of writing.
As a "lefty" myself, I found mastering some motor skills as a child difficult. Tying shoes was a great mystery to me, and learning to write tested my patience. Fortunately, I can do both pretty well now.
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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.