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Problems Copying From the Board

Some children have a hard time copying things from the board. Some are unable to do it at all, while others are just very slow at copying. There are multiple reasons for this difficulty. Regardless of its cause, students need accommodations to overcome this barrier before it causes problems in school. (An accommodation is something that allows the child to perform and succeed despite having a difficulty that prevents her from doing an action by herself.)

If a child cannot focus on the board clearly, this can cause problems copying. School-age children should have their eyes examined every other year unless they already wear glasses or contacts. In that case, the eyes should be reexamined every year. Another possibility is that the child is sitting in a place where there is too much glare on the board. Teachers don’t always look at the board from every location in the room, so don’t rule this out. These vision issues are fairly easy to solve. Glasses or contacts can resolve the focusing issue, and changing angles with the screen or closing the blinds on the windows can remove the glare. 

Hand-eye coordination issues, poor pencil grasp, or muscle weakness in the hand also can cause a child to have trouble copying from the board. Other possibilities relate to poor language skills. If a child has to copy letter by letter because he doesn’t know how to spell well enough, it takes a lot more time for him than for other students. A student with poor working memory may not be able to hold the information in his head long enough to get it down on paper. All of these should be diagnosed by a trained professional who can then make recommendations to address the problem. In the meantime, the child needs an accommodation so that this does not keep him from learning in school.

There are multiple accommodations that could help. One answer is to provide a copy of notes to the student. Another is to make a copy of another student’s notes (one who has legible handwriting and takes good notes). If the teacher is using an interactive white board, she should be able to take a snapshot of the board and provide it to the student digitally. Or a student could take a picture of the board with his smartphone or iPod. Some students can copy something for themselves if what they are copying is close by. This is called “near point copying.” For these students, they can simply copy a nearby student’s notes.

If your child is having trouble copying notes for himself, speak to his teacher to see if she is willing to provide an accommodation to help. If not, I would suggest you go to the school psychologist, counselor, or principal to ask for help.

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