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Gap between verbal and written ability

(33 Posts)
IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 12:20:38

Is it still normal to have a huge gap between your written and verbal work at age 10 (entering Y6)?

And any tips for closing the gap?

lovecheese Fri 26-Aug-11 12:32:26

Me again, Indigobell! Not stalking you, honest! How "huge" is the gap? And do you mean speaking & listening vs. writing?

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 12:39:14

I mean if I get him to dictate his work and I type it up, vs what he'll write himself.

He hates writing and so will write the minimum he can. Whereas he loves talking smile and clearly demonstrates fantastic vocab and depth of ideas when dictating work to me.

His typed work is better than his written work, but is still not as good as his dictated work. (Far less of a difference though)

I don't want him to get a scribe or anything - I want him to improve his writing.

What I don't know is is this still normal in this age group, or would the teacher agree with me that it's a concern.......

mrz Fri 26-Aug-11 13:14:58

Without knowing him it's hard to say but I think you are right to be concerned if there is a definite marked difference in quality and quantity.
My son entered Y6 as a non writer despite being according to his teacher the most intelligent child (verbally) she had taught in a 30 year career and his EP saying not to worry as his reading was excellent!

maree1 Fri 26-Aug-11 18:50:13

Boys are often less enthusiastic about writing tasks than girls. But your DS can speak well with a range of vocabulary. You say that he has a great vocabulary. Some with a great vocabulary are shy of writing because they cannot spell too well – and there are a variety of possible reasons for this. If you are confident that he can spell then I wouldn’t panic and chalk it down to ‘
boys being less interested.

Get him to read more which will encourage ideas for stories. I was recently recommended to Google Creative Writing Magic Money Cards to help with writing tasks. Also it might be worth talking to his teacher to determine how he performs in class and whether he is considered ‘average’. It is good to be aware of his limitations and to want him to develop his skills but his teacher will be able to advise on whether you are unduly worrying.

LynetteScavo Fri 26-Aug-11 18:54:44

But, IndigoBell, you are the one with the answers! grin

I have the same problem with DS2, who is going into Y4, except he doesn't talk much at school, so they don't realise how wide the gap is.

The best teacher he had described it as a block in his arm..he can't get the information from his brain, down his arm and onto the paper. What he does write is very neat, but very slow.

I wish I had the answer.

mrz Fri 26-Aug-11 19:08:57

I think it is quite common for ADHD/ASD children to have this problem. Their brain and mouth work faster than their fingers

LynetteScavo Fri 26-Aug-11 19:11:22

Maybe, but DS2 is the opposite of someone with ASD, if that's possible.

cat64 Fri 26-Aug-11 19:17:24

Message withdrawn

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 19:39:26

Thanks everyone.

I think DSs problems are due to:

* him having Aspergers / Dyslexia.
* him finding writing physically hard
* his brain working faster than he could possibly write.
* very bad teaching in Ys 1 - 4.
* visual perception problems.
* not knowing how to start.
* him refusing to proofread or edit his work.

They are not due to lack of reading - he reads an awful lot. eg this holidays he's read Animal Farm, 1984, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Hobbit, Starship Troopers, Old Man's War and he's just starting Nelson Mandela's Long Way Home smile

They are not due to his spelling. He is bad at spelling but that doesn't bother him (I don't think)

He says writing doesn't physically hurt - I'm not sure about this. Certainly it is large and looks like a 6 year olds.

Maree - he is average in writing. That is why I'm concerned.

Lynette - I have spent so much energy getting his anxiety and behaviour into a good place that we haven't been able to spend enough energy on his writing and handwriting.

We spent all last year concentrating on his handwriting and didn't really improve it at all. Went from looking like a 5 year olds, to looking like a 6 year olds.

His writing improved last year. Went from using no punctuation at all to often using basic punctuation smile

I just want him to leave primary school able to write. ie to be able to write whatever is in his head.

I think it is a common problem, and hard to solve. But this is where my energy is going this year grin

tessofthedurbeville Fri 26-Aug-11 20:00:07

Are you sure that it is worth putting all this effort into physical writing if he is better on the computer. If he has got dyslexia and struggles with the physical aspect then you might be better putting your energy into getting him to write on the computer and getting him the support in school to do homework and class work on laptops. Hopefully he will then get an Ed Physc's report to say that this is how he needs to work and so in year 10 he will confident and able to do his GCSE's on computers.

mrz Fri 26-Aug-11 20:06:13

That's what happened with my son and I regret agreeing to it.

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 20:18:08

I'm very happy for him to do his GCSEs on a computer and am absolutely confident that he'll be allowed to. The OT has already recommended it.

I will not agree to him having any exam concessions at all in his SATs. I am determined that he learns to write.

He also doesn't want to use a computer at school. He doesn't want to be different. They've offered him one and he's refused.

I know he will loose marks in his maths paper because he won't be able to write small enough to fit the answers in the printed box, and because they won't be able to tell if he's written a '3' or a '5'.

If school have failed to teach him to write, I'm quite happy for him to fail his SATs. I want his SATs to reflect how he works in class. Failing his SATs does not make him any less clever. I don't need proof that he's clever smile

They have a whole year to teach him to write 10 digits correctly. Surely they can do that.

He won't get any extra help in real life or in job interviews. I refuse for him to be artificially helped in the classroom - I don't think it's in his best interests. Nor does he want to be marked out as different in the classroom.

What I want is for him to be able to write. And I won't send the message to him that writing is important all the time - except in exams when someone will do it for you smile

A year's a long time. I'm confident we'll get there. But not without a lot of effort......

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 20:52:46

Anyway - sorry for the rant about scribes and laptops smile

Does anyone have any tips for getting writing out of kids that think faster than they car write?

Hassled Fri 26-Aug-11 20:54:37

Any hints of Dyspraxia? How are his fine motor skills generally?

Hassled Fri 26-Aug-11 20:56:15

I had this gap between verbal and written with Dyspraxic DS2. By Yr6 we threw in the towel pretty much completely with handwriting and he now completes all written work on the (county-provided) laptop. It has made the world of difference to him - going into Yr9 now and absolutely thriving.

sarahfreck Fri 26-Aug-11 20:58:36

" I know he will loose marks in his maths paper because he won't be able to write small enough to fit the answers in the printed box..."
Actually as I understand it, as long as the answer is clear, you can give then the marks whether or not they actually put the answer in the box or not.

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 20:59:09

Oh yeah, he's probably dyspraxic. Very bad fine and motor skills.

But he can write. And he'd prefer to write in class rather than type.

At home he mostly types.

DS is fine and confident and happy and thriving.
He is just not writing to what I know to be his ability. Nowhere near.

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 21:01:18

Sarah - his answer isn't clear. And he won't have room in the box to show his working out. So I think he will lose some marks.

But maybe not. And certainly they'll be able to decipher the majority of his scribbles.

When writing a word you can guess what they wrote - but in maths you can't do that.

Takver Fri 26-Aug-11 21:15:26

DD is exactly like this (going into yr 5). No answers for you - she has been using a touch typing programme on wet/boring this summer to try to learn some keyboard skills, but still v e r y s l o w at typing too.

I was hoping that she might find it easier, especially as my mother who has always had spectacularly poor spelling finds it much much easier to work with a screen (to the extent that its hard to believe her emails come from her, IYKWIM).

Every one always says 'oh, your little girl's so bright, so clever at reading, and so confident when she talks' - well yes, but unfortunately in school/life you need to be able to put more than 2 sentences at a time on paper . . .

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 21:40:12

Every one always says 'oh, your little girl's so bright, so clever at reading, and so confident when she talks' - well yes, but unfortunately in school/life you need to be able to put more than 2 sentences at a time on paper . . .

Exactly! I don't care how bright and confident and clever DS is. I do care how well he does at school - and in school you need to be able to write.

mrz Sat 27-Aug-11 07:49:48

Indigo I know you have explored many things for your children and you are miles away but my school is working with www.treetopsoccupationaltherapy.co.uk/ and seeing positive results. (It's great I can do direct referrals so can get quick access) www.treetopsoccupationaltherapy.co.uk/treatment-evaluation/

You can contact them by email and I've always found them very helpful.

IndigoBell Sat 27-Aug-11 09:35:49

mrz - you are right he does need to be seen by a children's OT.

He had 4 sessions with an NHS OT - but that's all they'll do without taking them to tribunal etc. And 4 sessions of course is not nearly enough.

The reason I haven't yet started on more OT with him is:

* He's currently doing Osteopath and Retained Reflex therapy - and that really is enough to be doing at one time. (And they've both been excellent and helped his an awful lot - helped him to the point where we can now be concerned about his writing and not about getting him into class.)

* I promised him once we'd finished those therapies he wouldn't have to do any more therapies blush

* He hates driving and I can't find anyone local.

So I think I'll try and find a private OT who will come and work with him at school. Then he won't be able to blame me for it - and he won't have to drive anywhere.

Not sure if I can find someone - but I'll start looking

(I'm in NW London if anybody knows any children's OT who would visit school)

mrz Sat 27-Aug-11 09:42:58

Julie and Rosie are lovely and they may be able to give you some ideas if you drop them an email

IndigoBell Mon 29-Aug-11 09:46:04

So just been playing round with some verbal and non verbal reasoning papers (DS isn't doing the 11+ because we don't live in a grammar area, but some of his friends are....)

And I noticed there is a huge discrepancy between his non verbal reasoning and his verbal reasoning.

He is getting 90%+ in non verbal reasoning tests. (I know he sat one at school and got 100%)

But he can't do verbal reasoning at all. He wouldn't finish a 10 minute paper with me (because it was too hard) - and the half he did do he got more than half wrong.

Does this explains his huge gap between verbal and written ability?

And if so - would improving his verbal reasoning improve his written ability? Or is it just a party trick to get kids into grammar schools?

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