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Feel a bit low after parents eve - ds needs help with writing.

(39 Posts)
harryhausen Tue 19-Mar-13 22:24:41

Ds is in y1. His reading level is fine - only fine bumbling along the national average. His teacher however said she's getting concerned with his writing and spelling.

At the beginning of the year he mixed up a lot of letters, mainly got b's and d's mixed up. However at patents evening tonight she says now he's not improved on this at all. He also still spells out his words purely phonetically even though he can read the words. Some are really common words like spelling 'said' as 'sed' or 'house' as 'hows' etc. He can read them but can't seem to put them into practice when writing a sentence.
The teacher says its really holding back his progress. To be honest, I can't help comparing him to my dd when she was that age and the difference is hugehmm

The teacher is suggesting I do daily writing and spelling practice at home. She has put big 'b' and 'd' letters all over the classroom and has tried to focus more on the words with certain letters in - but she says he'll understand then go and write them purely phonetically all incorrect again within moments.

She seemed interested in the fact I mentioned that he's always making little books of drawings - but makes them so they read backwards. His pencil control is excellent.

She says she's not worried yet but is watching for signs of dyslexia.

Has anyone else been through similar? I'm a bit baffled as we work really hard at home with reading and writing etc and have done from a young age. Is the teacher doing enough? What else could/should she
be doing?

It's like all his learning isn't joined up. One minute I'm thinking, he's only 5 - but the next I'm thinking, oh no I'm one of those who failing their childhmm
(Or that may just be me being very dramatic!)

It's hard to read things on MN sometimes because all I seem to read about are the children reading Roald Dahl independently at nursery or somethinggrin

Chrysanthemum5 Sun 31-Mar-13 20:23:18

My DS has always struggled with writing, reversing letters, numbers etc. He's great at reading, maths etc but writing is his challenge. We've worked at home a bit ( but not much as I think children shouldn't do too much homework), and I've got some apps for the phone that help with letter reversal. However, he really didn't show much progress until this year (he's P4 so aged 8 but young for his year). He just seems to suddenly have got it. He's getting extra writing support at school, and his support teacher has taught him joined writing which has helped hugely. He had support before, but I think until now he just wasn't ready.

I think it's good that the teacher is spotting potential issues, and trying to support your DS. I do think that children need to mature sometimes before they are ready to progress.

Sommink Sun 31-Mar-13 20:15:30

I still used to get my b and d mixed up. I was encouraged to write bed in the corner of the page with a line over the top so it looked like a mattress......loved explaining that one to my science teacher when he asked if I was overly tired in his lessons grin.

Don't worry about it yet, and enjoy reading his stories and finding out about his great imagination!

apatchylass Sat 23-Mar-13 14:05:06

He's 5! It's perfectly normal to mix up b's and d's at that age. Does he know his left from his right? Does he put shoes on the wrong feet? I spent time teaching my DC right and left so they'd understand whether the stick went to the right or left of the ball for b'd and d's. School teaches them the word 'bed' with bedposts in the right place, which only makes sense to DC who have bed posts, but hey.

Your DC's spelling is not necessarily a symptom of anything other than being 5. I'd have been skipping for joy if either of my DC were writing that well at that age. Neither of my DC were anywhere close to that ability in Yr1. (One of them even spelled his own (full) name wrong in yr 6 but still managed to score a 6c in English.

I really think we push them too hard in the UK. They're not all ready to absorb writing techniques until they are 6. If he enjoys writing and making marks on paper at this stage, imho, that is by far the more important indicator for later success.

Copthallresident Fri 22-Mar-13 19:22:30

HH Actually the term "Dyslexia" used to be used as a catch all term to cover a range of learning differences, but now they are known as Specific Learning Differences and the term Dyslexia has a narrower application defined as difficulties with reading and spelling. However SpLDs are on a spectrum of difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, short term memory and processing. Individuals can experience different problems across the spectrum, so it is possible like my eldest to learn to read quickly and well but experience other difficulties . The Educational Psychologists test ability through tests of reasoning and then attainment in all those areas. If there is a significant difference between ability and attainment in any of those areas ie they are failing to attain their potential then they will give a diagnosis and advise you what support you should give your DC. They cannot give a diagnosis before six but DD2s teacher said that the methods she used to help those who were falling behind were the methods you would use to support a dyslexic anyway and so we didn't get a formal diagnosis until she was 8.

As I say it may be your son isn't dyslexic and just learning at his own pace, a lot of countries don't teach formal literacy skills until 7 and as my mum, a teacher used to say, it is hard on Reception and Year 1 children to be asked to use a pen because the bones in their hands have not yet fully fused together. However the mirroring and transposing are classic signs (they think it may be a breakdown in the signals between left and right brain and often goes hand in hand with being ambidextrous) so it is worth being on the alert, and getting the right support as early as possible.

harryhausen Fri 22-Mar-13 17:11:18

God damn phone (while taking dcs to swimming lessons!)

I meant to say, so thanks for explaining about it.

In your experience, does dyslexia mean they have trouble with reading too or does it manifest mainly in writing? Ds is reading fine you see, he just can't seem to recall all his learning of words when writing. His pencil grip is great. His drawing is quite skilled too (for his agegrin)

Gladrags, your ds sounds great. My dd is very much into the darker things in life. At the moment it's werewolves and zombies! There's a huge future in artwork design and animation for gaming etc. I hope he keeps it up.

harryhausen Fri 22-Mar-13 17:06:01

Thanks Cop. I did get a bit worried when she mentioned dyslexia as I have no real experience of it. So thanks

GladbagsGold Fri 22-Mar-13 13:13:27

Thanks HH. Yes he loves copying and adapting things, mainly Beast Quest covers and guns from dragoart. He veers towards the gory, robotic and cartoon side of things, I'm sure school would prefer a bit more fine art but his hearts not in it! We are off to see this soon

Will get some tracing paper, I'd not thought of that. He is definitely set on art as a career (alongside being a professional footballer as they only train in the mornings apparently, leaving the afternoons free for drawing)...

Sorry for thread hijack!

Copthallresident Fri 22-Mar-13 12:12:51

I would say having two dyslexic children that this could be DD2 in Year 1. It obviously isn't necessarily the case but it is good the teacher is on the look out. In Year 2 DD2 was taken out and given intensive support with phonics and writing, dyslexia is a learning difference, so they just need to be taught the tools to do the job, they don't absorb it naturally like other children, the result was that she was brought up to the average level for reading and spelling even before we got a diagnosis. I am pretty sure I am dyslexic too but I had a very formal phonics based education which is the sort of teaching that suits dyslexics. She is now at a very selective school and just got A/A*s at GCSE. DD1 actually has a photographic memory so she did learn to read and spell quickly through look see and found her own way around her difficulties with writing but she does hold her pen very strangely, her difficulties emerged with literacy at the higher level at secondary school. I would not get stressy at the mention of the word dyslexia with the right support dyslexics go on to achieve and universities these days are at the forefront of appreciating that it has nothing to do with ability and dyslexics have strengths (being able to see the whole picture, lateral thinking)as well as a weaknesses.

harryhausen Fri 22-Mar-13 11:15:50

Gladbags, that's great for your ds. In another lifetime I've often wanted to set up an after school art club from around 8 - 15 years. However I'm literally snowed under. Maybe when mine are older?

I often go into schools to do workshops. I'm more on the book illustration side though. I find kids are passionate about this, but at GCSE this area of interest seems to be frowned upon and is geared very much up to fine art and history of art. As you can tell, I'm properly passionate about my subject.

Art can lead to some great careers. I personally know people I studied with who are now animators, illustrators, fashion designers, film directors, film model makers, architects, packaging designers....all in paid work and doing nicely. (Sorry I tend to go off on little rants about how people think art doesn't go anywheresmile)

As for encouraging your ds. When I was young I was just left too it. I copied a LOT from books I loved. Especially the front covers. Unknowingly to me I was honing my talent. I was told copying was bad but mixed with your own drawing I think it's great. Tracing is also good. Try helping getting him some good Coloured pencils and get an advanced book about shading/perspective etc.

Lastly, I wish I could pop in and give him half an hour!grin

GladbagsGold Fri 22-Mar-13 09:42:34

I am now completely overexcited, a professional artist on MN! My DS (Y3) is very good at drawing and I never know what to do about it... its not like there is 'after school art club' in the way there are sports clubs. So we give him lots of art materials and let him get on with it. I would really like to find a (possibly cool teenage student) artist that can show him techniques etc and be a bit of a mentor to him. As he is fed up with me saying 'ooh lovely, are you going to colour it in'? and I suspect would listen more to a real artist.

(Yes I am a stressed out parent artistically!...)

harryhausen Thu 21-Mar-13 21:35:53

Thanks again for all your help. I knew this was the right place to askwink

I'm really not a stressed out parent academically (so far anyway). I'm an professional artist so my kids have always made marks, held pencil/pens from a young age. I think I was taking my cue about my concern from the teacher - who really seemed very concerned about it all. It all left a bit of a bad cloud over me.

All that everyone's said hear is excellent advice and I'm going to try and calm down with it (although I'm planning a bit for over the Easter hols)

I haven't even thought about joined up writing yet if I'm honest! I may try an bit of 'doodling' patterns with them though. I love thatgrin

Pashley1 Thu 21-Mar-13 18:48:35

I am a calligraphy graduate. Can I suggest you try and make your handwriting practice time with your child fun. Try doing some joined up letters in patterns at this stage rather than worry about words. He/she needs to get used to hold their pencil correctly and getting a flow in their letters. Lots of c's and e's all joined up. Use the patterns to fill in pictures and make them colourful. It needs to be an enjoyable experience. Try this website for different types of pencils and pencil grips. It could be they need a bit of extra help. Above all don't get stressed. They will soon pick up on it. It has to be fun and no more than 10 minutes at a time. Good luck

wheresthebeach Wed 20-Mar-13 22:40:35

Apples and Pears is a series of workbooks by Sound Foundations. If you google you'll find them. They are great but don't rush into doing them as its quite a commitment.

BackforGood Wed 20-Mar-13 18:39:51

If it's reassuring, ds's handwriting didn't really kick in until Yr 5, ie, when he was 9.... he's now doing A-levels, including English Lit and History, which both involve a LOT of writing.
dd (now in Yr9)'s speeling has always been pretty weak, but it's not stopping her being on target for a string of As at GCSE.
At 5, in Yr1 - he sounds like he's doing fine to me.
Maybe the teacher was trying to indicate 'next steps' and didn't pitch it quite right. There is such an emphasis on phonics in schools these days that it takes a while for some children to 'click' that everything isn't as you'd think it would be. I think the content is far more important at this age.

Costypop Wed 20-Mar-13 18:34:10

Just had my PE with my 8year old(year 3) the teacher said the whole class isn't too good with their writing so she is going back to basics with them. She also asked to do some extra handwriting practice at home but for joined up as this is what they are doing after Easter and my ds hasnt got the best writing, so if we can show him a few things at home he will understand more when it comes to doing it in school.
DS also gets 10/10 in his spelling tests but when doing a bit of free writing is prone to not using the correct words ie sor instead of saw, so got this to work on too. But I think it's most likely that he isn't playing enough intension to what he is doing :/

xigris Wed 20-Mar-13 18:28:58

PS she is a massive fan of Lego as it's brilliant for fine motor skills development. We were advised to encourage it

xigris Wed 20-Mar-13 18:27:49

We had parents evening a few weeks ago, DS1 is also in year 1 but is a November baby so one of the oldest. We've been told that he's one if the brightest children in the class (this is not a stealth boast!! - you'll see why!). At the end we got to have a look at his school work and well, his teacher deserves a gifted and talented medal for being able to read that boys handwriting! I work with doctors and I had trouble trying to make out a lot of it grin. His lovely and very experienced teacher is head of the infants, she says that his handwriting isn't great but that his comprehension etc is very good and that his handwriting will improve over time. She believes that it's a very "boy" issue and is because the muscle between the thumb and forefinger at this age in boys is very tight which impacts on their fine motor skills hence the "poor" handwriting on comparison to girls. Obviously this is a bit of a generalisation but she has 20+ years of experience. We asked if we should do some writing practice at home and her answer was an emphatic NO unless he himself chose to. Personally, I think that your DS and mine are so young that they don't need the extra pressure and should just be encouraged to enjoy school and, at this stage, develop at their own pace. I loved his story BTW! smile

toomanyfionas Wed 20-Mar-13 18:15:08

It's a shame you are feeling so pressured.
Please don't stop him from playing with Lego, it's so good for their maths, science and problem-solving skills.
The 5mins a day going over one letter sounds like a great idea as does talking it through.

Our school uses a literacy programme called Casey the Caterpillar which is letter formation based on a story. Invented by Barbara Brann. Not sure if it is available to individuals as opposed to schools as she go round teaching the teachers the programme but possibly worth googling.

Good luck OP and hope the anxiety subsides a bit. Your boy sounds great.

harryhausen Wed 20-Mar-13 14:34:09

Ahh thanks Rooble. Gosh you guys are so helpful.

That's exactly my ds's problem. I spent a long time on letter formation with him in Reception and he can do it really well, but can't recall it in his writing.

At the moment she's just flagged up b's and d's and the odd 'p' to me. So far, I've told him - the stick is the man's body. The B is his bum, and the D means he's had his dinner (ie big tummy at the front). My ds responds well to bodily functionsgrin

I haven't come up with anything for P yet! I dread to think....grin

I've also drawn out smiling B,D and P's and stuck around the kitchen.

I'm hoping it all helps.

Rooble Wed 20-Mar-13 13:59:30

My DS's teacher (also Y1) took me on one side earlier this year for exactly this reason. She suggested that we spend five mins each day practising forming one letter correctly. This has transformed DS's handwriting (as long as he's concentrating).
Subsequently, I've been helping with the same thing in school. The particularly striking thing to me is that many children find it easy to recognise letters and trace letters, but when they have to recall how to form them correctly they find it very difficult, so we make little mantras to mutter while we're forming them, eg: "start at the top, straight down, half-way up, round, down to the line and smile". A more creative person might come up with something more poetic!
We don't do five mins every day (there's too much to do and I'm not convinced five year olds need homework more than they need Lego), but maybe a couple of times a week.
Good luck

harryhausen Wed 20-Mar-13 13:40:22

Gladbags, I meant to add a grin after the comment about reading into his story.

I'll try and stop over thinking it and calm down, while planning to do more in general at homesmile

GladbagsGold Wed 20-Mar-13 13:34:45

Noooo!!!! Please don't read into it, though DD's latest story was about a dangerous volcano, a dragon is probably a lot less of a worry.

I suspect Knackered Teacher Syndrome had set in, yes. Sometimes I think they feel they can't just say that everything is fine and they 'have' to find something which could be improved. Which then gets lost in translation into 'something that's drastically wrong'.

Forgot to say earlier - I have an older DS and since his school insisted on more frequent reading all aspects of his English have come on in leaps and bounds. If you are going to 'do more at home' I would probably make this ten minutes more reading. It is helpful and also enjoyable.

harryhausen Wed 20-Mar-13 13:21:32

Thanks Pink. Again, reassuring to hear.

Wheresthebeach what's Apples and Pears? Is it a learning program or a book?

Gladbags - thankfully he's not called Bill but now I'm reading all sorts into his story.

Apart from this he's reasonably happy. Apart from a few playground squabbles over games etc. There are 21 boys in his class though in a class of 29. I think he's taking his time to find out where he 'fits' amongst them. There's some strong characters (including himself at times as he's fairly bossy). He's quite a geek really, and until last night I thought he was doing really well.
I may go back and see the teacher in a week or so. She made it all sound really bad which maybe she didn't mean to (I was the last parent to be seen last night and it was over running by 20 mind so she may have been shattered and couldn't do the smiley face anymoregrin

GladbagsGold Wed 20-Mar-13 13:11:35

DD is in Y1 and they have a really helpful chart on the wall (and send a copy home) which lists all the different ways to spell a sound.

So when DD spells something wrong but phonetically right, I can suggest she looks at the chart to see if she thinks she could pick a different option. So its more of a 'well done lets see if we could make it look like it does in the books' rather than 'you've spelt it wrong' iyswim.

She also has a fab teach full of memonics, Sally Anne Is Drawing, Big Elephants Can Always Understand Smaller Elephants etc etc.

If you are worrying, ask for a meeting with teacher and DH, so you can make a specific plan, as it sounds like teacher was a bit vague.

Most importantly - is he happy? I hope he is not called Bill and this is his way of telling you that his teacher is a dragon wink

wheresthebeach Wed 20-Mar-13 12:54:15

Try not to worry - he's young in the class which is going to impact. At our school there was huge concentration on 'tricky words'. The teachers constantly pointed out that they were called 'tricky' for a reason! Said being one of them. My DD spelt it sed until Year 3.

We had similar discussions, and ended up doing Apples and Pears with our DD to support her spelling. I wish we'd started earlier as it would have sorted things out quicker for her. She too spelled phonically.

Apples and Pears will support phonics and give great writing practice too. Just something to think about for the future.

In the meantime...breath deeply...he's only five.

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