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Helping a four year old to write

(11 Posts)
lecce Thu 26-May-11 19:46:01

Ds1 is 4.2 and has never shown much interest at all in drawing, colouring and writing. I have had pencils and paper around since he was about 2 but he has never been that keen. It 's not really mine or dh's forte either (the arty aspect of it I mean, we can write grin) and we thought that we couldn't/shouldn't push him in any case, so as a result he hasn't really developed in this area. On the rare occasions he does some 'drawing' it's just scribbles and looks no different from stuff he was doing two years ago.

I have always kind of hoped it would resolve itself at some time, but now I am getting a bit worried as I become aware of childen younger than him who can write their names, draw recognisable pictures etc.

We recently invested in some more crafty stuff in an attempt to encourage him and he did seem to enjoy painting a lot more than using pens and pencils - could this be because it requires less effort/ strength in the wrist?

I have noticed that he has no idea how to hold a pencil - he tends to hold it loosely at the top, which obviously gives him very limited control, and I really struggle to explain to him/show him how to do it. That seem ridiculous but it seems a real difficulty. I often wonder if he could be left-handed but how would we know? It seems to be random which hand he picks a pencil up with and results are the same which ever hand he uses.

Today, for the first time ever, he asked to write his name on a chalk-board we have and he could do the first letter but was absolutely nowhere near with the others. I do feel he is put off because he can see that they don't look right so he doesn't want to even try. I am trying to get across to him that the only way he'll get it is by practising but I'm not getting very far.

I don't know where to go from here. I don't even know if it really matters but I have a friend who is a primary school teacher and she complained a few years ago to me that some children start who "can't even hold a pencil," and now it looks as though that is going to be ds sad.

Sorry it's so long, thanks for reading - any advice would be great.

TurtlesAreRetroRight Thu 26-May-11 19:52:20

Do you know what, I think it's personality as much as anything else. Some children like to sit down and draw/write, others aren't remotely interested. I think I'd just leave it until he starts school in September and they'll have lots of lovely, fun, ingenious ways of getting him started with his peers alongside him. Sitting there trying to work out different ways of holding a stick just won't engage him if he's not interested. Of course if he's asking how to write his name, then go for it but try and make it interesting. Let's make your name out of leaves or write it in the sand or see how many times we can find the first letter of your name in your favourite book or as we go round the shops. That sort of thing.

Of course I'm no expert but I'd say he's only 4 once, I'd let him enjoy it and trust that they all get there in the end and there's time enough once they're at school.

SoundTheOctoalert Thu 26-May-11 19:57:23

at 4.2 my ds couldn't really do much either. Myself and the nursery never pushed it, now at 5.2 (starting school in August) he is really very good at it. There just came a point in the last year when suddenly he was very interested. I bought comics every now and again as they have lots of pencil skill work and then once he started doing letters I bought some Jolly Phonics books so he could learn them properly. so, don't push it and it will come naturally. If he still can't by school, then the teacher will bring it along quickly I'm sure.

RhinestoneCowgirl Thu 26-May-11 19:57:40

DS started reception last year. He was one of the younger ones and could write his name (just about) because they had done it in preschool, wasn't interesting in writing anything else.

In the first week they all drew a self-portrait and wrote their name underneath and these went up on the board. There was a huge range of writing ability, from some fairly random looking marks to very neat (for a 4/5 yr old).

christinecagney Thu 26-May-11 20:00:06

Hello OP - I am a primary school headteacher - 4.2 is very young, don't panic! Best thing is lots of stuff that develops fine motor skills and dexterity: clay, plasticene, Lego, Meccano, treading beads etc. Pencil contorl/writing is very hard if your hands aren't strong enough. Big paint brushes and a bucket of water - 'writing' on the wall outside, or on a paved surface, is popular with non-writers. Stay away from letters til he feels confident to do squiggles, wavy lines, zig zags, circles etc If he has no hand preference yet don't worry, though left handers often seem later to 'decide' IME, mainly cos they live in right handed world so get quite ambidextrous. Lots of praise, no pressure, keep it light hearted. Personally not at all bothered if children can hold a pencil when they start school - if they've got good dexterity and gross and fine motor control it isn't a problem.

christinecagney Thu 26-May-11 20:00:44

"threading beads" I meant.

LeoTheLateBloomer Thu 26-May-11 20:06:05

Give it time (and read my book!)

Children develop at very different rates, especially at this age.

Encourage other types of mark making; drawing with a finger in sand, finger painting etc. Don't necessarily try to make him hold a pencil or paint brush; you don't want to put him off before he's got going.

Children often don't decide whether they're right or left handed until they're 5. If you're not sure, when give him something to hold, put it down directly in front of him so he can decide which hand to use.

If you're concerned about strength in his fingers/fine motor skills, you could give him plasticene to play with and encourage him to pinch bits off using a pincer grip. Hole punches are also good for strengthening grip (and then you can empty out all the 'holes' and ask him to pick them up to practise the pincer grip).

lecce Thu 26-May-11 21:00:16

Thank you very much for all your reassuring replies. I suppose I will go with my instincts and not push it then, though I love some of the ideas on alternative ways of writing - in the sand etc so will definitely try those out.

I know they are all different and I know ds certainly has his strengths, but sometimes I have a bit of a panic when something comes to my attention that some other child has done that ds certainly could not!

Thanks again for the advice.

skybluepearl Thu 26-May-11 21:57:04

as a small person my son was a book worm - he never ever bought paintings or drawings back from play group. there didn't seem to be a creative bone in his body despite having creative parents. i think his lack creative work meant that his fine motor skills were poorer than his class mates. he struggled even to use sizzors and once in school he hated writing. he disliked the physical side of writing and did as little as pos while all the girls sat around him writing pages and pages and enjoying making all their letters curly and attractive. this was all very frustrating for me as i knew he was a bright boy but i sat tight and did nothing. didn't put any pressure on him and just let him evolve. roll on a few more years to year 3 and his fine motor skills are much improved and although his writing isn't as attractive as the others, the content of the writing is years above his real age. it seems that being a book worm has made him a very creative writer and I'm told he has a really interesting writing style and is an author in the making. what i am trying to say is don't worry. they all have thier own stregnths and develop differently over the years.

Latootle Fri 27-May-11 19:44:57

gosh yes 4 is young I wouldn't worry at all. Let the school sort it out. In The US they dont do anything till they are nearly 7 anyway. and they all get there in the end.

Preggersplayspop Fri 27-May-11 19:50:01

My ds only started getting interested when he could hold a pencil more competently. That only came after he started playing with Lego and plasticine so I definitely think its a physical thing as well as confidence. He's still way off compared to some girls his age though!

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