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Writing and yr6 boy - help! Any teachers out there?

(26 Posts)
stclemens Mon 29-Oct-12 10:54:21

DS hates writing - loves reading but absolutely hates writing, like pulling teeth. For homework he had to complete a page and a half on "what happened next in Carrie's war". We sat down at 10am on Sunday, and discussed what might happen next. then DS started writing. By 3pm (with a break for lunch) he had finally finished a draft (about 8 paras widely spaced!) which he then took an hour to turn into a final piece of paper.

Every time I got up from the table he would drift off and go and find something else to do. If I sat there he would make me read each para as it was completed and then discuss with me what the next para would say. The actual piece of writing was OK if not stellar.

I realise this breaks all the homework rules but thought that otherwise we would fail completely to finish the task. I looked back at his book and realised that all this year he has failed to complete any creative writing task set at school - there is only one para if at all on a page. So if nobody is looking then he does nothing....

Help! What can I do to speed him up/get him motivated. He is convinced he can't do it so then can't do it without constant encouragement.

Justgoplease Mon 29-Oct-12 11:15:31

My DS was very similar at that age. It seemed his hand couldn't keep up with his thoughts, so he got frustrated and lost interest very quickly.

What we did for a while for longer writing hw, as his handwriting caught up with the speed of his thoughts, was he would dictate to me and would write word for word what he said and then he would copy it out. It stopped his inability to write affecting his thinking!

His teacher was happy for us to do it this way for most of . Five years on his handwritings still appalling!

Justgoplease Mon 29-Oct-12 11:17:08

Argh. Sorry just realised your DS is Y6 not aged 6. Sorry. blush Though the idea might still work I suppose

Iwasagnome Mon 29-Oct-12 11:23:24

Would typing on computer appeal more?

EcoLady Mon 29-Oct-12 11:25:04

If he was in my class I would try to focus on encouraging him to produce smaller amounts of high quality writing. That should give him the sense of accomplishment that he needs before moving on to volume.

If he's doing longer written pieces, he should not be writing one para then planning the next. The overall plan of what he's going to say should be done at the start. That will also help to break the work into less intimidating chunks. Tick them off as they are completed.

Would different reasons for writing work for him, rather than writing for the sake of writing? Could he write a diary? Write your shopping lists, or instructions for a favourite game? A competition entry or letter to a favourite magazine?

Is it the actual act of writing that he dislikes? A different pen that is more comfortable to hold may help. Or writing in a different colour may have enough novelty value (I mark in purple. They love it, even if I've written loads all over their work!)

Would he type more freely than he writes by hand? Would he dictate to a scribe to get him into the habit of working in sentences and paragraphs without the drudgery of writing it down?

flamingtoaster Mon 29-Oct-12 11:34:18

My daughter always hated writing so we introduced typing when she was 8 and her creativity blossomed as typing kept up better with her thoughts. I agree with EcoLady's advice and ideas. Two others you might like to try (which worked with my daughter when I was home educating during Year 6 and I was desperate to increase her speed before she entered secondary education) 1. Get him to copy out, as fast as he can, information re a computer game or something else that really interests him to practice the mechanism of writing rather than having to worry about content as well. 2. Do speed writing - get him to write a word as many times as he can in a minute - keep a chart with rewards for significant increases in speed - let him test you as well. 3. Every day ask him to write a paragraph on something that really interests him. Start with saying it has to be just four lines - slowly increase it. 4. Every so often write out a joke (hundreds of children's jokes on the internet) and ask him to write it out as neatly as possible.

Good luck!

flamingtoaster Mon 29-Oct-12 11:35:15

ooops four, not two!

stclemens Mon 29-Oct-12 11:47:03

thanks some good ideas here. We tried a diary in the holidays - offered a euro a day for a diary entry. DD (yr3) earned almost 20 euros. DS refused until we started deducting from their icecream money unless diary completed. He won't write birthday cards, shopping lists, even his name on his homework is shortened (made him write out his whole name, not just his initials). I have splashed out on nice Lamy pen as the WH smith one was too scratchy - still we struggle on!

3nationsfamily Mon 29-Oct-12 15:30:03

We had a similar issue with our DS and the teacher suggested using mind maps to help his planning and structure his thoughts. It helps to get lots of "random" ideas down then try to link them and put them into a cohesive structure at the end.

[Flamingtoaster]- I love your speed writing ideas and will look forward to trying these out with DS who still struggles with getting his homework done quickly.

Basic questions first
Is his eyesight ok?
DS1 ability to persist with written work has improved with glasses.

Does he have motor skills issues?
DS1 had motor skills issues which made writing physically more difficult. He has had some occupational therapy which has helped a lot.

I think planning does help so he gets the basic structure drawn out on a piece of paper first so he knows what each paragraph with broadly be about.

It might be worth trying typing too to see if that makes things easier.

stclemens Mon 29-Oct-12 15:57:11

ds already wears glasses, and don't think there is a motor problem (although he is not an artist at all - hates drawing as well). it seems to be a psychological block.

Is he ok with fiddly stuff like lego? If he struggles with things like lego for example or similar things requiring dexterity then it might be worth just checking if there are motor skills issues.

DS1 is yr5 so you have my sympathies on the psychological block. Planning does help him and I use a sand /egg timer and give him a time limit for his work i.e. lets see what you can get done in 20 minutes no getting up from the table before then.

stclemens Mon 29-Oct-12 17:08:01

he never was a lego fan - I think he struggles with spatial stuff (can't do eg symmetry questions in maths very well) and will never be an engineer or an architect! But actually very good with language - great on VR.

flamingtoaster Mon 29-Oct-12 17:14:04

If you think it's a psychological block stclemens one way to get over it is to play the game I used to play with my DC. Each member of the family, in turn, says a line of a story - the funnier (or on Hallowe'en the scarier) the better. This gets them used to thinking quickly how a story might develop.

3nationsfamily - the speed writing really does help and my DD was very willing to do it because it didn't involve the dreaded writing a story.

stclemens Tue 30-Oct-12 16:20:34

thanks again - any other ideas welcome. Is it worth raising this with the teacher? It has a knock on effect to everything and makes homework a nightmare.

EcoLady Tue 30-Oct-12 19:15:50

Of course you should talk to the teacher about it smile. Here's hoping that together you find some solutions.

Catsnotrats Tue 30-Oct-12 20:08:07

I second everything EcoLady says, find out if it is a physical issue. I'm physically a slow writer but a quick thinker, and I was always a fairly reluctant writer as it was painful and by the time I got to writing an idea down it had gone. Using a different pen, typing and dictating can all help with this.

I'd also suggest that getting him to redraft may be a barrier as it is incredibly time consuming. What about you writing down bullet points for each paragraph at the start of the piece and then he writes one final draft from that?

As a year 6 teacher, I have to say that the homework is not the most inspiring and that will certainly not be helping. 8 paragraphs on a story prediction is a lot, effectively you're asking him to write a short story. Does he write more if it is a topic he is interested in?

GoOooooooooonatic Tue 30-Oct-12 20:13:14

YY to computer, typing, iPad, something like popplet to help sequence his ideas? Maybe a snazzy new fountain/anything of his choice
pen? Yellow paper to write on?and yes I would talk to his teacher too.

stclemens Tue 30-Oct-12 21:33:57

Thanks what's popplet? Cat, should they not be writing short stories at this age? dS terrible at writing anything, but if he gets into the flow, can speed up - it is getting started and sticking at it. I'm dreading the dinosaur poster he has to do as well - drawing and writing, urgh. Teachers must notice but don't seem to do much about it - judging by his school book.

Catsnotrats Wed 31-Oct-12 08:48:42

They definitely should be writing short stories! However writing a story prediction requires the use of future tense, conditionals and textual evidence to justify opinions. Most year 6 children who are level 4 can maintain this style for about half a page before they start to struggle for ideas. If they write a page and a half it invariably will turn into a short story. It might be that having to maintain the correct style and generating a large amount of ideas could have caused you ds to struggle.

stclemens Wed 31-Oct-12 11:33:47

mm we just made up what happened next, we didn't justify it at all (note the "we" here!)

I was the one who made him do a draft and then write it out again as I thought this would help him get the punctuation etc right which can be erratic (slowly getting round to sticking capitals in the right place) and I thought at least writing it out again should be straightforward given all the thinking had been done but I guess that if there is a physical reason (as opposed to an psychological reason) it would be quite draining to do again. I think teachers just think he is being lazy because in other respects he comes across as very verbally adroit.

educatingarti Wed 31-Oct-12 23:21:13

Sometimes you can find a private occupational therapist or handwriting tutor who can assess your ds, advise on the exact issues affecting him and work on remedying it. There are sometimes specific exercises you can do to reduce pain when writing and increase fluency and speed

lljkk Thu 01-Nov-12 22:58:22

Gareth Malone Extraordinary School for Boys.

stclemens Fri 02-Nov-12 10:55:46

can you expand - what did he do?

lljkk Fri 02-Nov-12 18:51:54

I was hoping you'd feel inspired to Google those words. I still think you'll have to, anyway. Some good discussions here at the time, too.

Malone is mostly a performer & choir leader, but he's very charismatic & understands how people tick, how to get the best from them as individuals.

Malone had the idea that conventional teaching of literacy is too staid & prescriptive, & therefore especially not suited to many boys (kinesthetic learners, risk taking, competitive). Especially when it comes to something which has to have some element of quiet contemplation (writing).

Malone convinced a London area school to give him 2 or 3 days a week over a small period... 6 or 8 weeks? To see if he could improve English standards just for boys in that time. His final results seemed impressive.

He did things like put on a speaking contest: he reckoned that they had to start by improving their speaking skills. He did loads just on better speech. He also had them work in creative competitive and collaborative groups to devise story telling, to plan and write & perform a play. He took the boys out on adventure hours to improve team working & communication skills. There's more to it than all that, just writing off top of my head.

I have a friend who does the exact same things as Malone, same philosophy, goes into schools to do writing workshops. Just scruffier & older (& cheaper, no doubt).

Perhaps what these people do most is transmit their enthusiasm and confidence for creative writing to the children. Forget the tickboxes, just get the ideas out.

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