Even if you haven't looked at a calendar lately, the advertisements in your daily newspaper or a visit to almost any store will make it clear that it is August -- time to think ahead to the start of the new school year. Even here in New York City, where a regular class schedule doesn't begin until the week of September 13th, thoughts of school supplies are unavoidable.
Some students don't have a great deal of flexibility in their purchases; teachers have sent home specific lists and students are expected to show up with the mandated items. But there are some simple products and devices that can help many students who deal with issues such as organization and graphomotor (handwriting) difficulties, and in our experience most teachers will permit -- and often welcome -- the use of these items to help their students better manage the demands of their work.
Dexball, Dr. Grip, Twist n' Write and weighted universal holders can all be extremely effective in helping students work around graphomotor weaknesses. Students who are old enough to learn to keyboard, generally age seven and older, may also benefit from having access to a computer at home or in class or both. This doesn't mean that such students should abandon work on their handwriting skills. Using the computer will liberate these students from having their written expression hobbled by their handwriting difficulties. They can work on their handwriting as a separate skill, but by taking it out of the equation for some creative tasks and responsive essays their knowledge and creativity can be expressed without the limitations imposted by their graphomotor challenges.
It also may be time to take another look at a tried and true guide to paper management, The Organized Student: Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond, by Donna Goldberg. This book is not for those who prefer cutting edge technology, but for those students and parents who need help dealing with the volumes of papers that overwhelm many students.