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Advice on getting reluctant 4yo to write or draw, please!

(12 Posts)
SybilBeddows Thu 14-Jul-11 15:44:46

My ds1 is 4.7 and starts school in September. His motor skills are fine in most ways - he likes construction toys and is quite persistent so he's quite good at doing things like Hama beads. However he has no interest in writing, drawing, scribbling etc and as a result can't really control a pen at all because he's never practiced.

I don't want him to be so far behind all the other kids that he loses confidence.

Does anyone have any good ideas for fun ways I can get him to practice pencil skills?

I tried buying him a cool set of stationery of his own but he has had more fun doing the zip and taking the pencils out and putting them back again than actually using them! And we have Aquadraw but he has no interest in it.


sarahfreck Thu 14-Jul-11 16:01:59

Try something slightly subversive (not usually allowed) like using dry-wipe pen to write on kitchen worksurface/cupboard doors (it should come off melamine type surfaces with kitchen cleaner but test a bit first) or bath crayons to write on himself/bath tiles/willing family member at bath time. Give him some old decorating brushes and a bucket of water and let him "paint" with the water on the patio/house walls/fence. Stop while he is still having fun and keep it as a "special treat", ie don't do it absolutely every day.

Writing on vertical surfaces is particularly good for developing the appropriate muscles. Fat pens and brush handles can be easier for a young child to manage than standard crayons and pencils.

You could use the ideas above and play games like noughts and crosses - or mess about sharing a silly drawing. Children can be more motivated if an adult is joining in. Let him draw his own hopscotch squares with chalk outside or make up a track game or simple snakes and ladders game (chalk on patio) where he can throw a dice and use himself as the counter to move along the squares.

From experience, chalk washes off paving/tarmac fairly OK, but is a killer to get off house bricks - so avoid chalking on the walls unless you like grafitti!!
You could also try games like "Operation" "Kerplunk" and "Jenga" that require fine motor control.

I wouldn't try and do anything too formal - just have fun "mark-making" and keep up with the Lego Hama beads and the like.

There will be children at a range of stages when he reaches school - so don't worry about him being "behind". Writing skills have a developmental aspect so just keep giving him things to help develop hand and finger muscles

SybilBeddows Thu 14-Jul-11 16:10:17

wow SarahFreck, what a fantastically helpful post, thank you so much!

I won't do anything too formal, I don't want to sit him down and make him do writing practice or anything, just the fun stuff, so this is all excellent.

will get some bath crayons and chalks!

annebuttercup Thu 14-Jul-11 16:32:46

Not sure if this is helpful but in nursery we have found that using the children's interests encourages them to write and draw - so one boy who was really reluctant was into dinosaurs and Ben 10 so we combined these, bought comics and trading cards and encouraged him to make his own. Outside we use fine paintbrushes with water and he has really enjoyed drawing. The water dries fairly quickly and it makes him feel he is failing less when his drawings aren't like the other children's since they all disappear really quickly. We also found bingo pens very useful. Dabbing them down makes spots and splashes and as he has become more confident he has started drawing with them. To repeat sarahfreck everyone is different and all children develop at different rates, he has plenty of time. Maybe he is developing his fine motor skills fully before putting pen to paper!

SybilBeddows Thu 14-Jul-11 16:39:48

thanks Anne.

he is obsessed by sharks and other sea life; maybe I can persuade him to draw some in the bath.

blackeyedsusan Thu 14-Jul-11 20:19:16

drawing with their fingers in shaving foam....or cornflower mixed with water or sand or mud.

playing with playdough

using lolly sticks/ sticks to paint with

crossing off items on the shopping list

leaving mummys very special pen and notebook out within rerach accidently would work in our house, especially if i had been doing some important writing.. but they are a bit younger.

thisisyesterday Thu 14-Jul-11 20:26:42

ds1 was like this. no interest at all

I am very much of the "they'll do it in their own time" school of thought, and thankfully his teachers agreed. so we didn't push anything, he was encouraged to write and draw pictures in school but he was still incredibly reluctant.

He is now just finishing year 1 (he was 6 in February) and wow! he draws and draws and he annotates it all with little notes!

So, my advice is by all means do things to gently encourage, but don't worry if he isn't interested. He WILL get there eventually... all children do things in their own time, and don't underestimate peer pressure!

gabid Thu 14-Jul-11 20:45:52

My DS was the same, liked construction toys, but would not draw a thing, and writing - I wouldn't even try. Anyway, they are too very young to formally start to write, so apart from fun markmaking stuff I would leave him to do what he enjoys. It doesn't sound as if he was lacking fine motor skills.

By Xmas in reception DS had started making, drawing, cutting out and writing all sorts of pop-up Xmas cards - it was an obsession! His best friend got several I think. Now, end of Y1 DS spends a lot of time drawing, according to his report his writing is very good and neat, and he is very able at DT.

I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Saracen Thu 14-Jul-11 22:47:06

I'm not convinced that they need much writing practice in order for their writing to improve significantly. My dd didn't. Mainly, she just needed time. She was a perfectionist who was frustrated that her efforts to write or draw didn't measure up to her expectations.

She used to pick up a pencil maybe once every six months. (She was home educated so it was possible just to leave her to do it in her own time.) Every time she did have a go, I could see a step change, a huge improvement over the previous time.

When she started school just before her tenth birthday, her writing was quite acceptable if rather slower than most kids. As soon as she was made to practice regularly the improvement was immediate. It isn't as if there is a window of opportunity which children miss if they haven't done much writing by a particular age.

Your son's interests are helping him to develop the coordination he needs, so I am sure his writing will improve in time. He's very little and it sounds like he has other fish to fry right now! The longer you can leave it, the easier it will be.

EustaciaVye Fri 15-Jul-11 08:16:59

Seriously I would leave well alone. Keep reading to him and give him access to stuff so he can draw/paint etc. If you push him into it he wont learn adn wont enjoy and may even dig his heels in to NOT do it.

trifling Fri 15-Jul-11 09:35:41

Mine was like this too - just wanted to do lego/duplo. But I think all that construction helped with the gripping skills needed; when he did pick up pens at nearly 5 he was holding them really well.

SybilBeddows Fri 15-Jul-11 13:10:08

thank you for all the reassurance! I'll get some of the stuff suggested earlier but otherwise leave it then.

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