Shocked at the poor state of ds's writing - is this normal for Yr1?

(26 Posts)
lecce Mon 18-Feb-13 20:42:53

Have recently acquired all ds's school books and work due to a change of school and, though I feel mean to even think it, I am really disappointed with his writing. So much of it is illegible. There are pages and pages that I just can't make out. The main problem seems to be the way he sets it out on the page, rather than letter formation. It is all so big, and if he runs out of room, he just starts writing vertically. Spelling is good and pretty much all phonetically plausible, but it just can't be read.

The thing is, we had a parents' evening in October and the teacher was so positive. She told us he was in top groups for everything (I realise that what this actually means is dependant on the cohort as a whole), so keen to learn, tries to act on her targets, never been told off, likely to be above expectation by the end of the year. In his books, there are pages of stuff that can't be read, followed by the teacher's comment: "fab work, lovely ideas, try and keep writing the same size next time" - that is a typical comment.

He is a reluctant writer at home but when I get him to write cards etc his writing is a hundred times neater than that he produces at school. I realise this is because of one-to-one help and lack of distractions but this is what worries me - how will he progress if he lacks the ability to remember stuff like starting at the left with a capital unless he is reminded?

I took his books to his new school to show the teacher on his first day and, to my surprise, she did seem impressed and verified that he is Year 1 not Y2 (mixed class at new school). She held up his book to the children and said, "look, 2 pages - he is a writer!" but the quality seems so out-of-kilter with what I read about dc on here doing that I have become worried.

Thanks for reading - would loe some advice.

Verugal - I read it as "signals" like smoke signals?

MiaowTheCat Wed 27-Feb-13 15:09:27

There's so much for them to think about - the phonics, the content, letter formation and THEN the presentation stuff on top of that - give him a chance to get a few bits sorted before throwing the rest into the equation for him to juggle too!

Cards and the like are probably neater because there isn't the content element to really battle with as much, things like "To mum" and his name he's going to know how to spell anyway - so he's got more brain free to concentrate on nice writing.

And considering the number of very intelligent Y6 kids who will sit there utterly stumped when they reach the end of a page and ask what to do (my head... meet my desk) - writing up the page around the corner shows some initiative!

PopMusic Wed 27-Feb-13 14:51:31

Very common - big, messy writing and going down vertically when they run out of space. If you think about, it makes sense (well it does to me) and also children don't always have the sense of proportion and planning at this young stage to work out that the word(s) may not fit in that tiny space.

My DS's is very similar - lots of capitals, spelt phonetically, words spread out, in wavering lines. He's Yr 1, I don't think you need worry.

(My DD's writing. on the other hand, is very good but she has always enjoyed writing and does it a lot, for fun. It does make a difference.

Procrastinating Wed 20-Feb-13 18:11:40

Perfectly normal going by my experience. My yr 1 boy has just been writing pages and pages of huge phonetically spelled words about Christmas. I'm very pleased that he wants to.
He put "we ooPund are Prsuns I had mr men bucs I willy licet Them" that took up one page of A4.
Are you sure you can't read yours OP? it is a matter of tuning in to the spelling sometimes.

Ferguson Wed 20-Feb-13 18:00:08

Ex-TA here :

Yes, agree with other replies - nothing to worry about for Yr 1. The fact of him having a go and producing a reasonable quantity of writing is the important thing, and should be praised even if much of it isn't readable to adult eyes.

If initial letters are correct, is a good starting place. Children 'hear' things in their own way, whereas adults listen using the language rules they already know.

When I was little and at my Gran's house I remember her milkman used to deliver
"grey day milk". I saw nothing unusual in this, and I was probably into my 40s before I realised it was in fact "grade A milk".

Verugal Tue 19-Feb-13 21:39:38

My summer born y1 ds is similar. He is going through a lovely phase of writing things down at home and I usually can't make head nor tail of it.

I have just fished put of the recycling:

No is alowd-to-go-in the-den Ds1 ds2 DD usler gonwiqam I can do-we-do lodese-of-sgals. This is a nise picere

I it the hyphens in to make it readable but he had omitted the spaces there. I have no idea what the sgals are but the previous sentence may refer to a wigwam. Who knows what goes through the minds of our wild little 5 year olds.

PastSellByDate Tue 19-Feb-13 13:51:32

Hi lecce:

First off I think illegible handwriting and errors like backwards letters, no capitals, spelling madness and no punctuation are all very very typical of Year 1 (having 2 DDs myself, but also a slew of cards from friends of a similar age which had similar errors and I found very reassuring).

DD2 (Y3) got very worked up about 'cursive' writing - writing 'joined up' as she calls it. We stumbled upon the Collins Easy learning writing practice books (practice and then books 1 -3) and have never looked back. They've taught her how to form letters, but sneakily have also gradually explained spelling rules (doubling letters from soft vowel words when adding -ing - e.g. sit + ing = sitting (not siting - with long i).

Her penmanship has really improved over last few months (we started around October this year). You may need to have a think about whether you want to work on 'print' writing (not joined up) first or move on to cursive/ joined up books - the books are for ages 3 - 5, 5 - 7 and 7 - 9. The cursive are ages 7-9. They're available from Amazon and most good bookstores/ newsagents.

HTH

cakebar Tue 19-Feb-13 13:15:49

Hmmm DS can't really write, also year 1. He will try but it is illegible. 1:1 with support he is much better but the basic forms of the letters are not all correct. The teacher has said that she is going to scribe for him as much as possible in any topic lessons (not phonics or literacy sessions) as the gap between what comes out his mouth and what he writes is so vast sad They are assessing him and I have to go back in 6 weeks. He is bright, one of the best readers and in top maths group but he is not a genius or anything. Seems to be different approaches in different schools.

LucyLight Tue 19-Feb-13 10:05:56

Hi is probably going to be a Doctor.....with that handwriting likely to be a Consultant at least..... seriously I wouldn't overly worry - my ds handwriting is only just improving at yr2 and by the time they get to secondary school handwriting will probably be abolished and they will use tablets for everything...smile
my brother has awful handwriting...has an amazing quasi academic/commercial career...earns a fortune, lives somewhere wonderful...has never stopped him and it gives us something to tease him about...

TheYamiOfYawn Tue 19-Feb-13 10:05:49

If he's writing 2 paged of phonetically plausible, well-chosen words at thus point in the year, you have nothing to worry about.

You could also ask if the school do any booster classes in writing. The school my DC go to do lots of intervention group (whatever need to catch up or to stretch them) to help the children. For example my dd1 is behind on her spelling so she has 3 10mins one to one session a week to help and it has made a massive difference since Sept.

MM5 Tue 19-Feb-13 08:41:15

Yes, normal.

Boys usually develop the fine motor writing skills later than girls. Also, if he is a Summer born boy, it is likely he will not develop a neatermhandwriting until Year 2.

Don't worry. Like others have said, don't believe everything you hear others say about their children.

AScorpionPitForMimes Mon 18-Feb-13 22:27:30

grin @ BeeGees - DD1, yr7 - considered gifted in English with specific regard to writing - horrible writing. It's joined up and legible, but that's about it.

DD2, yr5 - also considered gifted, only got her 'pen licence' two weeks ago because her writing wasn't 'neat enough' - though her content, vocabulary and grasp of punctuation, spelling grammar, metaphor and other enhancing features is about 3 years ahead of her age.

Yes, they need to master cursive writing because it is efficient and ergonomically sound. No, it does not need to be beautiful, just legible. Go for substance over style at all times.

Meglet Mon 18-Feb-13 22:18:20

DS's writing is still a bit squiffy in Y1. Random capitals scattered in words and while he can do the cursive entry and exit strokes, he doesn't actually join up the words.

Some problems with positioning too. If he's doing written homework I always explain that he needs to start on the left and make sure he can fit his answer on the lines given. 2 mins later I hear him howling that "IT DOESN'T FIT!!" and he's written big spaced out letters for most of his answer.

He's getting there slowly but surely, I can't moan really as I have messy writing.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 22:10:53

Only Shakespeare? Standards are slipping.

In my four children the neatness of the handwriting is inversely proportional to the academic ability of the child!

The least academically able of my children has had quite beautiful handwriting since about Y2.

The one who is most academically gifted has handwriting that is still almost illegible in Y6.

PeanutButterOnly Mon 18-Feb-13 22:00:53

I think Scorpion is right. DD is finding the mechanics of writing a challenge such that she doesn't choose it as an activity at home. It's understandable. There are so many elements to think of at once, the spelling, the grammar, what you're going to say, the handwriting. I think I'm going to try some more activities where I'm her scribe. Then if she discovers she likes to tell a story or whatever (she is very into imaginative play) then maybe she will decide for herself to have more of a go at 'writing' for pleasure at home?

AScorpionPitForMimes Mon 18-Feb-13 21:57:08

The DDs had the hang of writing more or less along lines by the middle of Yr1, but I do think it's different with girls. Lots of uneven letters in strange shapes and interesting but phonetically plausible spellings though - and they were considered very able. Writing is a difficult skill to learn, I think it's best to let children 'play' with it - exploring how words might sound, applying what they know about phonics, playing with colour and font and yes, focusing on the narrative. A love of stories and language lasts for life, but once you've reduced writing to the mechanics of neatness, you've lost that love and will probably never get it back...

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 18-Feb-13 21:46:08

Of course it's normal.
Don't be so negative, and don't put too much over-bearing pressure on him to do 'neat' writing when doing cards etc.

PeanutButterOnly Mon 18-Feb-13 21:40:18

My dd is like this in year 1 and she's one of the eldest in the yr. When she's writing unsupervised she tries hard to sound out and spell the words phonetically. But the writing is huge and she doesn't seem to notice that the space she's about to write a word in is so much smaller than the word she's about to write! All over the place....and neither does it seem to bother her!

This half term we have the task of writing the diary for the class cuddly toy. She is delighted with this and I'm letting her dictate and typing it for her on the computer. I thought I'd take the pressure off the strain of the actual 'writing' for once and let her concentrate on the narrative. She's loving this and enjoying changing the font a different colour for each day... (And also, I'm fed up with having to display child's handwriting for all subsequent parents to see wink)

OutInAllWeathers Mon 18-Feb-13 21:03:40

Sounds totally within a normal range to me (3xds of my own plus work in a primary)

ceebeegeebies Mon 18-Feb-13 20:52:55

I am fairly sure that, at this stage of Yr1, DS1 was exactly the same. His writing was huge and he would get to the end of the line and then just carry on vertically so I suspect it is perfectly normal.

He is now in Yr2 and his writing is above average so don't worry smile

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 18-Feb-13 20:52:51

Oh, and don't believe everything you read about children on here.

According to some mners, their DC are ready to submit their thesis on the role of the iambic pentameter in Shakespeare's pays by the middle of reception..

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 18-Feb-13 20:50:29

To be honest...yes. It's normal in this house, at least!

DS is in year 1 and dd is in year 3.

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