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Ideas for helping DS(8) write more quickly and easily

(12 Posts)
Lovage Mon 19-Jan-15 09:59:18

DS(8) is doing well at school and his teacher has no major concerns but he struggles with writing. He says it's too hard and it takes too long. He's quite upset about it - he's been in tears about it several times already this term. Both last year and this year his teachers have commented that his compositions are really interesting, use a wide vocabulary, are well punctuated etc. but that they are too short. He says he always tries to express himself as briefly as possible, so that he won't have to write so much. While this has given him excellent precis skills and a promising future as a sub-editor(!), I'm wondering if there's anything we can do to help him.

I mentioned it to his teacher the other day and she recognised it as an issue he has but didn't think it was a problem because he's still doing very well. She did say she'd have a word with the SENCO to see if she could think of anything, but I haven't heard anything back.

Some of the trouble, I think, is that he doesn't form all his letters correctly and he doesn't hold his pen how you are supposed to. But I don't know how you change habits like that when you've been writing for 5 years (he's in Y4). We've tried ever since he started writing and wasn't doing it right, but with very little success. He's beginning to do joined-up writing but he's still at the stage where it's much slower than printing, so he usually prints.

I thought keeping a diary might be a stealth way of getting him to just do more writing at home, but he didn't want to do it, exactly because it would involve more writing.

When I was learning to write in the mid 1970s we had these beautiful pattern books where you practised the strokes that made up the letters - he might go for those but I don't know what they were called or whether modern letter formation is the same.

So any suggestions for things that might help him very welcome. Sorry for long entry - writing lengthily is clearly not a problem he inherits from me (maybe I should get him to precis this post).

Artistic Mon 19-Jan-15 10:21:38

My DD is in y3 & we had this problem until very recently. I tried the diary too ..grin Worked for only 2 days!!

Unfortunately it's one of those hinge where only practise can help. I did use Handwriting Practise 2 from Schofields & Sims..which is nice & can be done couple of pages now & then. Allows me to supervise correct the pencil holding too!

yellowdaisies Mon 19-Jan-15 10:26:33

I would give him some serious help with the letter formation and pen holding - and put pressure on the school to do the same. They really shouldn't be letting him get away with doing it wrong at that age.

My DS was the same and I really wish I'd sorted it out in primary school. The problem didn't go away and continued to hold him back at secondary. Always writing too little (despite having lots to say) because writing was such a chore. He's now given up joined up writing, which has actually helped, but I feel he'd have been better off getting more support with the real mechanics of writing at an earlier age.

The other thing that used to help DS with homework was for him to dictate what he wanted to say to me, and I wrote it all down. Then I read it back to him and he wrote it down. It split the task of thinking what to say and thinking how to say it, which helped a lot.

Lovage Mon 19-Jan-15 15:32:24

Thanks both. He might be persuaded to practice at home if it was at least a bit fun - he does understand about the benefits of practice from learning guitar, so he might be persuadable. I might ask the school for the name of the writing scheme they use - I don't think the Schofields and Sims one is the same, although it's similar.

School has never seemed bothered about how he holds his pen and forms his letters. I am at least trying to get on DS2(6)'s case a bit more about it, so he doesn't get into his brother's bad habits! But it's hard to do it for either of them in a way that doesn't feel to them like nagging.

BlueChampagne Mon 19-Jan-15 16:16:19

Can he submit work he's done on a computer and printed out?

You might find an app that will help with letter formation and be a bit more fun than endless repetition, which was how I learned (all those years ago).

WillBeatJanuaryBlues Mon 19-Jan-15 16:31:44

www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Your-Storybook-Louie-Stowell/dp/1409523357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421685066&sr=1-1&keywords=Write+Your+Own+Storybook+Spiral-bound+%E2%80%93

this books s brilliant and has helped mine read reviews.

WillBeatJanuaryBlues Mon 19-Jan-15 16:32:36

www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Draw-Your-Own-Comics/dp/1409564258/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0HJQCRA05J4S7PN46PJM

not got this one but looks good too..might be smaller bite size for him to try

Ferguson Mon 19-Jan-15 18:25:06

When I had 'reluctant' writers in Yr2 when I was a TA, I used to encourage them to DICTATE their ideas to me, and I typed them on the computer as they went along. Seeing their text come up on screen almost immediately was a big encouragement to them.

So if you have a tape recorder, or a phone that can be used to record, see if he will DICTATE his ideas. He can then listen to them back, make amendments if necessary, and in due course either hand write the text, or type it on the computer.

[There is also 'speech recognition' software available, but I don't know how far that has progressed, beyond the experimental stage.]

Asleeponasunbeam Tue 20-Jan-15 06:43:18

I use a couple of iPad apps with my own DD and children at school. One is called 'Crazy cursive' and other is 'spooky letters'. There are a few handwriting styles to choose from within them.
I tend to practise a letter on a whiteboard, then on the app, then back to the whiteboard or paper.

Jaxx Tue 20-Jan-15 10:36:59

Have you seen the Speed Up! book? We didn't follow the programme to the letter, but my son's writing improved significantly. It was well worth the cover price.

BrieAndChilli Tue 20-Jan-15 10:42:40

Ds1 saw an occupational therapist and she gave us some hand exercises to strengthen his grip, he was also given a special pencil grip to use at school as well as a writing slope. He also has touch typing lessons at school
The occupational therapist told the school that for each piece of work they had to decide if they were looking for the content of the work or the quality of the writing as ds was unable to provide both at the same time. Once he started doing some assignments on the computer he came out with brilliant funny stories that had all the staff in stitches!

Lovage Thu 22-Jan-15 09:25:20

Thanks all, some really useful suggestions.

It does seem a bit stupid that in this day and age handwriting is still so important - I never handwrite anything these days except shopping lists and the odd note. But with the way education is going, with less course work and more exams, handwriting seems to be even more important. I don't think DS has enough trouble that he would qualify for doing exams on a computer instead of handwriting, although I guess that's something to bear in mind later if it does continue to be a problem and/or gets worse.

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