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Too late to change letter formation?

(15 Posts)
sadmum1000 Sun 07-Aug-11 17:51:41

Hi, hope someone can give me some tips please.

DS1 has terrible writing. He's just finished yr 2 and got a level 1 in his sats which I presume is the lowest you can get?
He holds his pencil wrong (I'm working on this and have bought pencils listed by others on here and working through the list mrz posted a few weeks ago).
However he has always formed his letters wrong too and despite speaking to the teachers every year this hasn't changed. He is set in his bad habit now and however much I tell him, he does it his way when I'm not sitting over him.

Any tips welcomed. He'll have a nightmare of a time when they start 'joined up' writing next year.

Incidentally I always held my pencil wrong and still do - by the time the teacher's and my mum noticed, it was too late for me to change.

mrz Sun 07-Aug-11 18:05:38

It is never too late it just takes more effort once bad habits are established
make sure all letters except "e" start at the top

I've been told by an OP that the traditional tripod grip isn't important and unless the grip used causes pain or the writer feels tired by the effort change isn't necessary

Curly caterpillar family
Anticlockwise movements

c round

o round, round and join

a round, up, down and flick

d round, up, up, down, down and flick

g round, up, down, down and round

q round, up, down, down and tick

s round and round the other way

f round, down, down and round - across

e across and round
one armed robot family
down, up and over movements

r down, up and over a bit

n down, up, over, down and flick

m down, up, over and down, up, over, down and flick

h down, down, up a bit, over, down and flick

b down, down, up a bit, over and round

p down, down, up, up, over and round

k down, down, up a bit, over, round, out and flick

long ladder family
mainly down and round movements

l down, down and flick

i down and flick - dot

t down and flick - across

j down, down and round - dot

u down, round, up, down and flick

y down, round, up, down, down and round

zig zag monster
diagonal movements

v down, up

w down, up, down, up

x down, stop - down, stop

z across, down, across

IndigoBell Sun 07-Aug-11 20:07:19

He didn't get a level 1 because his handwriting is messy. He got a level 1 because of the content and he doesn't use full stops and capital letters, and plausibly phonetic spelling etc.

Handwriting forms only a small part of the writing mark.

The OT said to me by Y5 it's not really worth trying to improve their handwriting..... While mnz said that a boy in her school improved his writing at that age, I've been able to do very little with my Y5 DS. So Y3 is still early enough to change things - and you are right to focus heavily on it.

However I think you also need to find out what else is going on for him to have got a 1 not a 2.

mrz Sun 07-Aug-11 20:15:26

I think having difficulty physically producing writing can contribute to a lower level even though only a few marks are allocated for handwriting. If it is a huge effort children write less, often they use shorter words, words run into each other making it hard to read and if you add b/d/p confusion they can spend so long working out how to write a single letter they don't have time to produce enough work to get a higher mark.
Having said that I agree with Indigo that all possible difficulties need to be identified

UnSerpentQuiCourt Sun 07-Aug-11 21:45:18

No, level 1 is not the lowest possible. I have children coming up to me in year 3 still working on P scales or as we used to call it, 'W' - 'Working towards level one'.
Mrz, how I wish the school in which I teach and the one which my daughter will attend used your handwriting style, not the ghastly over-complicated cursive style they both use.

Malaleuca Sun 07-Aug-11 23:25:20

What I have found, once it becomes too difficult to sit over a child and prevent them doing their print letters incorrectly, is to change to cursive, and be very careful to teach this absolutely correctly. This seems to open a new window for changing automatic behaviour. I aslo spent much longer than usual doing tracing and verbalising the movements required with the few children I've worked with who have had this problem.
Someone has posted a very nice handwriting tracing font on this board, which I can't put my habd on at the moment.
And once they have got the cursive strokes right, there is no reason not to use that all the time.

emptyshell Mon 08-Aug-11 09:24:55

Never too late to start. I left school with a wonderful collection of bad letter formations (ok, carefully calculated by my pre-pubescent self to piss my year 5 teacher off that became ingrained habit) and I've had to conciously learn to undo the habits when I went into teaching.

While I'm still jealous of those with impeccable "teacher writing" - mine's apparently now pretty decent... kids think it's hilarious when I tell them I'm jealous of their really neat handwriting though!

And hubby has a pencil grip that drives me insane!

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 09:36:10

As I attended 5 different primary schools - with 5 different handwriting styles - and as an adult have had to re-learn the taught handwriting style of every new school I work in, I have had to consciously re-learn letter formation even at an (ahem) advanced age.

I also hold my pencil incorrectly, always have, though I adopted the convenional grip for those years when a fountain pen was required.

I would say that of the two it's the letter formation that counts UNLESS the pencil grip actively prevents correct letter formation. And I would also agree with pps that having a reason to change - so learning joined up writing instead of printing, or needing to learn style x rather than style y because a new school does / doesn't join their g / j etc below the line - is the best point to really put effort in, rather than trying to correct the current style.

sadmum1000 Mon 08-Aug-11 15:57:57

Thanks all for your replies.
Mrz - that's really useful (as always). He starts most of his letters from the bottom rather than the top. And yes, he still finds b/d confusing and writes a lot of letters mirror image. I do worry that he has been forming the letters wrongly for so long, it will be hard to change but I'll give it a go.
InigoBell - what sort of things do you mean I should find out?
Thanks again.

nickelbabe Mon 08-Aug-11 16:09:11

you need Words and Pictures and The Magic Pencil. smile

here is a demo
there are quite a few demos on these pages.

and one on YouTube

IndigoBell Mon 08-Aug-11 16:17:17

You need to find out why they gave him a 1 for his writing. Was it because of the content, or the lack of punctuation, or the lack of it, or what?

Could be a hundred reasons.

Also find out if school are concerned. Did he get a 1a or a 1c? There is a big difference.....

Are they going to do a handwriting intervention with him this year? Are they going to do any other intervention with him this year?

starfishmummy Mon 08-Aug-11 16:48:21

He's still very young and there is plenty of time for his writing to improve. at junior school my writing was considered bad by all the teachers (i'd moved schools, been put in a higher year and missed out on being taught joined up writing). At secondary school it was always considered neat!

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 17:03:08


The thing is, you have linked his poor writing mark solely with his handwriting.

Handwriting alone will not give a 1 for writing. It may well be, as mrz suggests, that his handwriting, and the effort and time he has to put in to it, are preventing him from being able to demonstrate other writing skills as he writes less and more slowly and what he writes is not decodable even by his teacher.

However, it may be that there are other aspects of his writing that contributed more to the overall mark - ie even if his handwriting was perfect, the lack of other feaures of higher level writing would still result in a 1. Does he punctuate at all? Does he have any concept of 'a sentence'? Does he use phonetically plausible spelling? Does he choose interesting vocabulary? Does his writing reflect different 'genres' of writing e.g. if he writes instructions or a poem or a story, are some of the 'features' of each type of writing (e.g. numbered steps and imperative verbs for instructions, 'once upon a time' for traditional tales etc) present? Does he use connectives at all (and, but, so, because etc). Does his writing have a clear beginning, middle and end?

This grid:

gives you some idea of some of the ways in which level 1 and level 2 writing is different, and how this is not just handwriting.

spiderpig8 Wed 10-Aug-11 11:31:28

Boys are much slower at 'getting' writing.When is his birthday?
When my DB was that age (30 yrs ago) They had a little ditty set to a tune for every letter
All I can remember was ' start at the top, follow it round, first you go up and then you go down' presumably for 'a' or possibly 'd'. I wonder if there is a modern day equivalent?

At the age of 40 I have quite recently changed my handwriting style, so definitely not too late for your kiddo-he's hardly started out!

mrz Wed 10-Aug-11 12:19:53

I think we do boys a disservice if we accept that they will be slower at acquiring writing. It lowers expectations and can prevent them being supported.

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