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What should handwriting look like for a child at the start of yr 3?

(13 Posts)
Tigercake Tue 11-Nov-14 19:54:10

I'd be really grateful if any teachers could give me a steer on the following:

How neat would you expect handwriting of your average recently turned seven yr old yr3 child to be? Is very irregular, erratic and at times bordering on illegible normal? Child tries very hard, especially with joining up. Sometimes they seem to manage it, but often it just looks an utter mess, including number formation. Often resembles squashed flies!!

Should a yr3 child remember to use capital letters and full stops in the correct places the vast majority of the time? What about inappropriate initial letter capitalisation mid sentence? Are these common mistakes that all children make and eventually stop?

Is it normal for them still to struggle to write on the lines and start at the correct place on the left hand side of the page consistently?

Is it normal for a child of this age who has learned and practised their spellings to then only get 6-8/10 correct? Eldest consistently got full marks after one quick practise. Number 2 can diligently learn them and will still not get them right. I don't see any difference in innate intelligence between the two of them at home.

Is it usual at this age for a child to be unable to spell well words that they read regularly and understand without difficulty, instead using (vaguely) plausible phonetic spellings?

My child is one of the best readers in their class, with good comprehension and a wide vocab. They spoke and read rapidly and early. My eldest was too... only they didn't do any of these things and picked all the stuff above up far far easier, in yr2 or earlier. I feel like I don't know what the benchmark should be. Was my eldest just bizarrely ahead? Will number 2 click with this stuff eventually?

Perhaps most importantly, how can we help?

TheBitterBoy Tue 11-Nov-14 22:55:50

I'm not a teacher, but My DS is in year 2 and has many of the traits you describe and his teacher has said they suspect he is dyslexic. Maybe have a chat with the class teacher if you are concerned?

Tigercake Tue 11-Nov-14 23:17:38

Thanks for replying. I'm just trying to work out if there's anything to be worried about really, or needs further investigation, or if she's just a little slower with these aspects and with more time will get there. Either way, as a non teacher and someone who picked these things up easily at school myself, it is hard to know how to help.

Fanjango Tue 11-Nov-14 23:21:49

Get a refferal to a children's OT bus your schools SENCO. My two sons are both dysgraphic, younger also possibly dyspraxic, the SENCO should get the ball rolling if there are concerns. Always best to ask, if there is no problem then fine but the earlier a problem can be identified the quicker they can get the extra support they may need smile

mrz Wed 12-Nov-14 07:10:14

In Y3 I would expect most children's handwriting to be regular, letter size consistent, letters correctly formed and mainly fully joined.

Tigercake Wed 12-Nov-14 07:48:09

Thanks Mrsz, that is what I was wondering.

RefuseToWorry Wed 12-Nov-14 22:18:02

I agree with mrz regarding what we're looking for in a Year 3 child's handwriting.

Perhaps most importantly, how can we help?

Your child sounds willing to put the effort in, which is good news!

1. I'd start by checking letter formation - are the correct starting points being used, is the pen moving in the right direction for each letter? (bad habits can be ingrained by Y3, if this is the case do what you can to get along with unusually formed letters - legibility is more important)

2. Then I'd move on to ensuring the letters sit on the line with clear ascenders ('giraffe' letters with long necks: t,f,h,,k,l,b) and descenders ('monkey' letters with tails which go under the line: q,y,p,g,j). This would include working on uniformity of letter size.

3. Next I'd look at those joins, checking there is a clear, visible diagonal or horizontal join between letters.

We also want the child to develop good habits of reading through their work as they write, in order to check and correct errors by themselves (e.g. missing punctuation). Actively encourage this and praise any signs that show you this is happening.

At this age, when a child is writing a word they don't know how to spell, I want the child to articulate the word slowly and attempt to record every sound as accurately as possible. However, when learning to spell a word I encourage most Y3 children to use letter names - saying each letter aloud as they write the new word, then reading the word. This helps to secure the word in their visual, auditory and muscle memory - the muscle memory is even more engaged if the child is joining up their writing.

I hope I haven't bombarded you with too much information, and I hope there's something here that helps.

PastSellByDate Thu 13-Nov-14 10:24:19

Hi Tigercake:

A lot of what you say sounds similar to experiences of DDs (DD1 now Y7/ DD2 now Y5).

One thing we had a problem with was that the school both DDs were at didn't actually have a handwriting policy or any substantive time for practicing/ learning 'cursive' (sometimes joined up writing) skills (DD2 is at a different school now where 'writing' time is allocated for precisely this - improving penmanship).

We found that in fact the move from print to 'joine-up-writing' (formerly cursive) was not formally taught - so children kind of had to find their way themselves. In both cases their handwriting went completely to pot at this stage (early Y3).

Our solution with DD1 was to buy a nice notebook and let her practice writing in it _ which seemed to work well for her. DD2 got really muddled - she naturally writes in small-size letters beautifully but the teacher kept insisting it was 'too small' so DD2 was forced to write large letters and kind of went to pieces.

In her case we opted for Collins handwriting workbooks (available from most large newsagents/ books shops) & I'm sure there are other brands as well. We went for these because they had the old fashioned hatched line in the middle of two solid lines to help guide letter height and showed DD2 how to form letters. This seemed to really help.


Tigercake Thu 13-Nov-14 18:27:57

Thanks all. There are some really helpful suggestions here that we will try. We are already in contact with the SENCO over a few behavioural issues. We're considering pursuing an Ed Psych assessment. As someone up thread said, we'd rather be told it's nothing than wait and wish we'd checked sooner. My only concern is that if you ask someone to look for something they're likely to find something, lol.

Tigercake Thu 13-Nov-14 18:28:45

I am also less concerned ultimately by what the handwriting ends up looking like (as long as it ends up legible). It's more whether these things together add up to a bigger picture.

mrz Thu 13-Nov-14 18:32:39

I would ask your GP for a paediatric occupational therapy assessment rather than an Ed Psych

Tigercake Thu 13-Nov-14 18:46:46

Can you say a bit more about what paed occ therapy is and why it might be relevant here pleas? I'm not sure how I would start that convo with the GP smile

mrz Thu 13-Nov-14 18:57:43

It isn't unusual for children to have undiagnosed physical difficulties and a paed OT can advise and provide a programme
Word - Handwriting.pdf

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