Helping Y3/4 with handwriting/presenta
tion - could something else be going on?
Ds1 will start Y4 in September. His handwriting has never been great but teachers have always said he is good at everything else so not to worry. He hates the act of writing so only writes at home if he really has to, so I have not done much about it, not wanting to get into conflict and put him off even more.
However, it now seems to be an 'issue' at school, particularly for his science teacher, as labelling etc is particularly difficult for him. His main teacher is less concerned and gave him 'secure plus' (the school's term for exceeding) in writing, but comments that in maths he has difficulty in setting things out correctly and writes some numbers the wrong way round.
He brought his books home last week and his extended writing is fabulous (sorry, unstealth boast , but I notice he makes spelling errors in fairly simple words - things like missing out letters or putting them the wrong way round. In longer but still easy to spell words, he may miss out entire syllables with key sounds in them. I am wondering if there could be a link between these and his presentation issues but have not got very far as, for example, with both dyslexia and dyspraxia symptoms are said to include being poorly organised or struggling to follow instructions, and I don't think that's him.
I am worried that this is going to affect his progress in science and maths - he was awarded secure plus and secure in them respectively this year, but they are the kinds of subjects in which if he cannot record his findings accurately, his scores will fall. I'm not being pushy, but he clearly has potential so I don't want presentation to stand in his way.
Any advice would be great - he is horribly stubborn at home about doing school work, so I struggle to come up with things he will do without a fight.
Perhaps he just has lots of other things going on in his mind during his creative writing and spelling therefore falls by the wayside.
In terms of his presentation 'Beat Dyslexia' has a brilliant handwriting scheme which uses entry strokes, which always means the child has to start forming each letter on the line. I have found that it had hugely improved my daughter's handwriting and in turn her spelling as muscle memory plays a part. I will try and find a link.
By the way my DD does not have a dyslexic diagnosis, but has several traits including the spelling style you mentioned in your OP.
I worked with a severely dyslexic youngster some time back, and it turned out he had a fabulous 3-D mental ability which was getting in the way of 2-D reading and writing. In particular he couldn't really tell the difference between b and d because, he said, the letters just flip-flopped both ways and whole words flipped over if he didn't know them (to see if he knew them from the other angle - amazing brain!). I trained him in visualisation skills both to stop his letters moving around and to learn spellings by 'seeing' the words written on his mental whiteboard (you know they can see it when they can read it off backwards).
Errors in labelling, arrangement, numbering etc could be part of the same thing, in that he isn't loading the info into his mental whiteboard before putting in on paper, which is what most of us do even if we don't realise it. If he can't copy info down from a whiteboard in the classroom, that could suggest that problem.
I think you need to be clear what issues there are with writing
Presentation - can he form letters correctly?
- are there motor problems causing him difficulty/slowing him down/making writing "painful"?
Composition - thinking what to write
Spelling- knowing how to spell the word v actually writing all letters in the correct order ( correct order but omitting some/ incorrect order but all letters)
I think I'd also look at whether he can do the things on mrz's list but isn't, or whether he can't do them even if he's trying.
The teachers saying not to worry because everything else is fine rings a slight alarm bell. Is there any chance handing in poorly presented work because expectations are low might play a small part?
I agree ...if he can get away with poor quality work what incentive is there to work harder
I think, for maths at least, good presentation needs to be taught. It won't come naturally for a lot of children.
I read research recently which suggested that more testosterone in boys means they often have poorer fine motor skills and thus poorer handwriting. Their fingers can actually be bigger and they find the act of writing painful.
To counteract this you can do lots of fine motor skills- Lego or nano blocks are good or any threading type activities.
Latest research suggests that testosterone levels in boys stabilise around the age of 4/5 when children start school.
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