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DS has to learn how to write all over again

(66 Posts)
Myusernameismud Thu 18-Apr-19 17:39:56

AIBU to think I'll need to get him a tutor?

This is a bit of a long one...

DS is 10. When he was a toddler he had several surgeries on his hand after a crush injury. His handwriting has always been awful, but his class teachers have always insisted on 'another handwriting intervention' and 'lots of practice'. It has never helped, and his writing still looks like a reception childs.

We recently moved house, and his new teacher suggested an OT referral. OT said there's nothing they can do and to ask for a plastics referral as they are best placed to decide what can be done.

Plastics have said surgery is the only fix, which I suspected was the case, but glad to have it confirmed. She said he'll need intensive hand therapy after, and he will need to re-learn how to write.

His surgery will happen before the summer holidays, and the vast majority of therapy will happen over the summer. After that he will be in year 6 and obviously will be preparing for his sats.

I'm an early years practitioner and have worked as a reception TA as well, and while I'm confident I'll be able to support him learning to write, I don't think I will be able to teach him as such. And as he'll have 6 weeks off school, I really think having a tutor once a week is the best way forward. DH thinks I'm over-thinking it (entirely possible, I'm a huge over-thinker)
I also think the kind of support he will need when back at school in year 6 is probably more than can be offered at School, athough DS is a pupil premium child, and I wondered whether to ask the head if he could have some more intensive support, paid for with his PP.

AIBU (or overthinking this?)

azulmariposa Thu 18-Apr-19 17:45:18

It's better him having it done in year 6, rather than year 7. Sats are not that important, school can either have him not take the tests, or provide a scribe in the exam.

KurriKurri Thu 18-Apr-19 17:57:48

I dont think it is over thinking to have some potential plans in place and to make some enquiries at least you could find out about tutors and what one might be able to offer him.
I guess his OT after his surgery will concentrate on fine motor skills (I had nerve damage in my arm and had to relearn a lot of stuff and it started with practicing fine motor things - although obviously not quite the same as your son's injury so may not be the same for him)
I'd get lots of stuff that is fun but will exercise his hand (colouring, games like 'Operation' 'Jenga' ' PIck up sticks' etc etc. lego, crafts - obviously consult with OT, I'm just going on my experience, not medical in any way !)

He might find that once his hand is strengthened the writing will not be so hard. But I see no problem at all with asking around tutors for advice - some might have good knowledge in this area, whatever you can do to help him while keeping it as fun as possible would be my approach. Also I think if something is a bit of a chore or tiring a child will just get on with it with a tutor, whereas they might complain a bit more to a parent !

Hope his surgery goes well flowers

bridgetreilly Thu 18-Apr-19 17:58:10

You should definitely talk to the school and see what help they are able to offer. KS2 SATS really don't matter and you shouldn't worry about any potential effects on that. Much better to get it sorted before secondary school if you can.

BikeRunSki Thu 18-Apr-19 18:00:32

Would a physio be useful as well?

handmademitlove Thu 18-Apr-19 18:02:42

Does he use a computer for work at the moment? He should be able to do this as a normal way of working. My ds has issues with his hands so used a laptop for yr 5 and 6 and he is much better for not spending so much time worrying about his handwriting, so he can just get on with his actual work.

bookmum08 Thu 18-Apr-19 18:03:09

You need to chat to the school to see what they can help with. I wouldn't of thought he would need a tutor as such just practice - but not just handwriting but colouring (you can get colouring books of Star Wars etc if he is worried about it seeming babyish). Lego will be excellent too - infact any think that involves hand control. Clay, model making, sewing etc.
For sats he will be able to have a scribe or use a laptop if needs be - the same for any future exams if needs be.
Schools so seem to be focusing on fancy cursive and joined up writing but if he ends us finding non joined up easier then encourage him to do that.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 18-Apr-19 18:05:05

Is typing an option?

I would also think with handwriting 10 mins a day is better than 60 mins once a week.

(I relearned to write when I was about 6 over one summer holidays, moving from my left hand to my right hand. )

reefedsail Thu 18-Apr-19 18:27:24

Agree with PP, ask school to provide a laptop and spend the time before surgery learning to touch type.

He can type his SATs or have a scribe.

Should be able to type in Y7 too if his handwriting hasn't caught up.

Dana28 Thu 18-Apr-19 18:41:04

Surely you can teach him to write again yourself.a tutor won't have any special expertise in helping with post surgical writing recovery

Myusernameismud Thu 18-Apr-19 19:36:32

He does currently use a laptop, although this is really recent as his teachers at previous school refused to acknowledge there was an issue and it was down to laziness. He has always performed poorly in literacy because he just doesn't produce the volume of written work required, but in the 6 weeks he's been using the laptop, his teacher has called me in 3 or 4 times to show me a piece of writing he's done that has (in her words) 'blown her away'.

I guess I never thought about 10 mins a day, instead of an hour a week. Sounds daft really, but I suppose I was thinking in terms of handwriting intervention that he's had before at school, they've always been an hour once a week.

And while I understand a tutor won't have any experience of post-surgical recovery, that side of things is being taken care of by the hand therapists. I just figured, much like a PP suggested, DS is far more likely to do what he would consider 'boring' work with a tutor than with me. I'm more than happy, and capable, of supporting him. I just don't feel confident that I could teach him, as though he was learning for the first time.

AdaColeman Thu 18-Apr-19 19:44:13

When I had an injured hand, I found therapeutic putty a great help in recovering the fine control movements of my fingers. I used it every day, in addition to physiotherapy exercises.

Nix32 Thu 18-Apr-19 19:46:58

Does he know how to form letters correctly - the correct starting point and direction? If so, I would think that's half the battle. Can he hold a pen/pencil correctly? Again, if he can, maybe it'll be more about strengthening than actually teaching, if that makes sense, and you'll know plenty of fine motor exercises to help with that. 10 minutes a day sounds like a good plan.

reefedsail Thu 18-Apr-19 19:49:58

I don't think it will be comparable to learning to write for the first time. That is really complex because the child is not only learning motor skills, they are also learning the cognitive schemata for letter formation, which letter formations represent which sounds, how letters, words and sentences are organised on a page etc.

Your DS already cognitively understands so much about writing that he will not have to re-learn.

The bit he will have to reboot is the motor skill, strength and co-ordination, which I think will just be practise/ training. There are lots of progressive handwriting schemes on the market that you could support him to work though a bit at a time which I'm sure would address the motor issues. Maybe OT could recommend one.

78percentLindt Thu 18-Apr-19 19:54:00

Speak to the OTs about it. DS with dyslexia/mild dyspraxia had handwriting problems and when he was 8 or 9 the OT recommended something call Speed up! which they ran as a course. Unfortunately the OT running it did not return from Mat Leave but the school helped him with practice. You can get the books on line but it is worth seeing if there is anything more recent -DS is 22 now. There is also a handwriting charity who might have advice.

78percentLindt Thu 18-Apr-19 19:57:22

Crossed post with reefsail.
I was going to say that he knows how to form the letters, he just needs to be able to get the muscles functioning again.

Myusernameismud Thu 18-Apr-19 20:00:17

Nix32 I think at one point he could form letters correctly (when he first learned to write in reception) but as he's had such trouble it's become more about him getting words down on paper in any way he can.
He can't hold a pencil correctly at the minute, his index finger doesn't bend at all. It was fractured in 3 places and he had 5 surgeries to fix it all. A lot of scar tissue formed, as trying to get a 15 month old to do hand exercises proved damn near impossible. The surgery he'll have in the summer is to remove the scar tissue and free up his tendons, and effectively start again. This time, he'll be old enough to cope with the hand therapy and he should have a fully functional finger again. He'll have to re-learn how to hold a pen and form letters. Literally starting from scratch.

reefedsail Thu 18-Apr-19 20:06:44

So, if you gave him a tray of sand could he write an 'a' with the tip of his finger?

Presumably he has the concept of how each letter looks and some memory of how he was shown to write them? It really shouldn't be anywhere near 'starting from scratch'. That would be a bit like comparing a 12 month old first learning to talk to a GCSE student starting to learn a new language. It's not the same cognitive process.

Myusernameismud Thu 18-Apr-19 20:10:18

reefedsail yes, I suppose its not totally comparable as he's not learning which letters represent which sound again etc. I suppose I just mean from a physical point of view, he has always held a pencil with his thumb and middle/ring fingers, and he'll sometimes revert back to a fist grip if he's got a lot of writing to do. When drawing or colouring he always uses a fist grip (which classmates have noticed before and he's really self conscious about)

Underactor Thu 18-Apr-19 20:13:14

Oh man I typed a really long reply and lost it 😫

I'm a handwriting geek and run interventions at school etc.

A few tips. A tutor might work if he responds better to someone other than you. I'd suggest a maximum of 30 mins twice a week. But the main thing is to do little and often every day. Definitely.

Handwriting is such a funny skill. It's a memorised motor movement really, like driving with gears etc. You get to the point where your hand just moves without you really thinking through what to do. Repetition is key to get the movements really embedded.

Like others say and I'm sure you know he will also need to learn other fine motor related skills. So focus on these initially.

There is a fantastic handwriting intervention programmed called "write from the start" and it's fantastic. Wholly recommend getting that and easy for you to do yourself little and often.

I would say though that I'd pretty much scrap the need to write at school. He should be allowed a laptop, push for that. Remove any pressure that he has to relearn how to write for the SATs or before secondary school. Take your time with it and don't push it. Long term I suspect he will probably always prefer to type, and let's face it in this day and age that's always going to be ok. Provided he can functionally write well enough it won't matter if it's messy or slow in the long run.

Underactor Thu 18-Apr-19 20:16:08

Also, this trick has worked wonders for children I've worked with who have hyper mobility or lack strength in their hands. Without looking I can't see if that's what your DS would need, but worth thinking about. This trick combined with a pencil grip is often excellent.

www.yourkidsot.com/blog/the-elastic-band-trick-for-pencil-grip-and-inside-the-handwriting-book

archivearmadillo Thu 18-Apr-19 20:17:26

It really doesn't sound as though a tutor is what he needs. He understands writing intellectually and can read. It's the manual process he'll need to relearn, not the intellectual side. If you have a bit of money which you were planning to use for a tutor it'd be better spent on an occupational therapist than a tutor.

Lalliella Thu 18-Apr-19 20:20:30

You’re not overthinking, you’re just being prepared. And you’d be completely reasonable to talk to the school, pupil premium is supposed to be used to help PP kids. Plus the school have an incentive to help him with his SATS as it’s what they’re judged on. I wouldn’t worry too much about SATS from his POV though, they don’t really matter for the kids.

Myusernameismud Thu 18-Apr-19 20:26:28

Thanks underactor, that's really helpful.
In terms of other fine motor work, I'm more than confident. We do a lot of fine motor work in Early Years and I have a stash of resources (and a Pinterest board full of other ideas!) to work with.

I think I've come to accept the idea that he'll probably need to use a laptop for school work at least until he finishes primary, and possibly into secondary as well. I don't know how easy it is to get that put in place in secondary school though, without an EHCP. Although we're currently waiting on an ASD assessment (another thing his last school entirely ignored, but that's a whole other story!) so whether when that's all done it could potentially be included within that, although I'm under no illusions that a diagnosis automatically ensures an EHCP.

Rainbowcolours1 Thu 18-Apr-19 20:33:59

He can also have a scribe in school. We have a number to f children who struggle with handwriting and do the bare minimum, having a scribe has really helped and they will have this in SATs as well. Obviously they don't always have someone but it is on a regular basis as well as access to laptops. I'm sure he'll be fine.

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