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9 year old struggling with literacy

(20 Posts)
MalloryScowls Wed 12-Apr-17 11:45:22

My DS has struggled with literacy from reception onwards. Learning to read was a long gradual slog and for a long time he hated reading and resisted it. But almost overnight he's now discovered a love of reading and has become a book worm. He's not a free reader yet and still does not enjoy the school reading books but I feel we've turned the corner now with it.

Writing however is a different matter. His teacher feels that now his reading has improved his writing will now develop but is not sure that DS will reach the required level by the end of year 4. DS continues to find writing hard and avoids it as much as possible. He struggles to write joined up and his writing is very messy. He also struggles to structure a sentence, use basic punctuation and grammar.

Any advice?
I don't know whether to continue doing low key practice in the background (eg writing funny notes to each other, shopping lists etc) and hope it clicks into place like the reading or think about a tutor or some more formal writing programmes.

Will lack of writing ability mean that he'll struggle in year 5 or am I being over-anxious/over-thinking things?

I want to try and support him without him feeling pressured. He's a lovely boy but he lacks confidence. He's blossomed since realising he can read after all.

Many thanks

Ginmummy1 Wed 12-Apr-17 12:33:46

How great that your DS has discovered a love of reading!

Is he using phonics effectively in his reading? How is his spelling?

How is his maths? Other subjects? How is his movement/co-ordination?

How concerned is the teacher? Has he met expectations in previous years?

Sorry it's all questions!

irvineoneohone Wed 12-Apr-17 13:03:22

I would definitely carry on doing low key practice everyday, it will pay off one day. Continuity is the key.

How is his fine/gross motor skills development? It might worth searching past threads about them if you think it may help.

MalloryScowls Wed 12-Apr-17 13:07:55

He seems ok-ish with phonics - he passed the year 1 check by 2 points, his spelling is pretty terrible, he's solid but nothing exceptional with maths and pretty good with general movement - he has good hand to eye coordination eg can hit a tennis ball well.

School seem unconcerned - they have put him in a small group for extra literacy work. But I think they have just decided he belongs in Hufflepuff - kind, quiet and well-behaved. DS dreams of Gryfindor or Ravenclaw though!

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 12-Apr-17 13:13:59

I can recommend Apples and Pears if you want to do something at home. It's cheap compared to tutoring and has very clear instructions so it is easy for a parent to deliver. It is rather dull, but it gets results.

misscph1973 Wed 12-Apr-17 13:28:47

My DS is the same, he's in year 5 now. He does really well in all subject, apart from spelling and hand writing. He reads a lot, and he reads well, he has read all the Harry Potter books twice.

I'm a former teacher (not in this country), ad TBH, some children, especially boys, are just quite slow to learn reading and writing, and they are not very interested. And it doesn't matter what the expected age level is, that's just how it is.

Some things you could try is drawing "lazy 8s" (look on youtube), it's really good for helping with letter formation and it also helps put the brain into writing mode, so to speak. Also my DS has a spelling app, Squeegles, I think, it costs £4, I think. It enables him to concentrate on spelling without having to worry about the writing. His teacher lets him use a laptop in school for writing, and I load the spelling words for the week into the app, and it appears to help, his results are much better now, 1 month into using the app.

Personally I try not to worry about it. I do not understand why my DS does not assimilate the spelling of words via reading, that's how I learned to write, and my DD is the same. But I guess my DS is different. I try to focus on the things that he is good at, and he loves maths and science. The trouble is that his poor writing skills are beginning to affect the other subjects, as he can't do a written presentation. So that's why I got the spelling app.

MalloryScowls Wed 12-Apr-17 13:45:59

Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'll check them out.

Onwards and upwards - gradually 🙂. I'm playing the long game.

SaltyMyDear Wed 12-Apr-17 21:58:52

Of course school is unconcerned. He's not their child!

You really, really can't judge how concerned you should be by how concerned school are.

Teachers ALWAYS tell you everything's fine. He's making progress etc. Etc. But those statements mean something different to a teacher than they do to you.

Clearly your child has dyslexia. It's up to you what you want to do about it. School won't give you the guidance you're looking for.

Patriciathestripper1 Wed 12-Apr-17 22:06:49

My heart goes out to your dc as he is exactly like my Dd ( age 10 ) it has just been a hard slog going over and over spellings and reading. What makes it worse is we live abroad so she not only has English spelling go but Irish spellings too. I went inyo school for help and she now has a learning support teacher ( Her class only has 11 pupils anyway) but she got one and has come on fantastically.
Another thing that helped was she got two pen freinds and writes to them regularly.

wheresthel1ght Wed 12-Apr-17 22:11:35

I tutor with kids in their teens who have failed to grasp these skills in primary - can I start by saying you are doing an amazing job already by encouraging the reading! As a child I HATED school reading books, they are boring, mundane and utterly pointless! At your DS's age I had read Alice in Wonderland, Alice through the Looking Glass, The Railway Children etc and I loved them but I was on the 'non reader' list at school because they were frankly crap. I now have a degree in Eng Lit with Creative Writing & Media.

With regard to his writing, can I suggest magnetic letters on the fridge or the foam ones that stick to the bath. My DSS also struggled at the same age with spelling and sentence structure so we took to spelling out random notes/words on the fridge/bathroom tiles - funnier the better. You can also buy packs of words I think they are called Fridge Poetry or something where you can write poems on the fridge. I would also try some games like building a story by writing a sentence on a piece of paper and then passing it to the next person and they then write a sentence and so on, find any old book, open it up randomly then close your eyes and point to a line, use that sentence as the opening line to a poem/story and run with it. If you can gear it around things he is interested in...minecraft or pokemon go for example then you might start to rouse his interest.

If his handwriting is bad then silly practice like your shopping list, daft notes etc will work wonders, but for stories etc at home let him use a PC.

And Salty you cannot say that clearly her DS has dyslexia as there is no where near enough info here to draw that conclusion. He may have it or he may just be a typical 9 year old boy. They are renowned for being slower to pick up reading and writing than girls of the same age.

Misplacedcell Wed 12-Apr-17 22:49:18

Well done to him on turning the corner. I love your funny notes to each other approach. You might try Creative Writing Magic Money Cards which have a game like feel to them and helped our DS1. Whatever you do keep up with the support, the extra help at home will bring dividends.

irvineoneohone Thu 13-Apr-17 08:22:52

My ds was/is real reluctant writer. We used these at first to prompt him creating/writing sentences.
www.happypuzzle.co.uk/products/SILLY-STORY-LABORATORY.aspx
learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/games/story-maker

www.happypuzzle.co.uk/products/STORYCUBESORIGINALSET.aspx

Now we use this site for inspiration.

www.pobble365.com/

Also writing diary helped him writing regularly.

Anyways, your ds seems to be doing great, keep up the good work, persistence always pays off in the end.

MalloryScowls Thu 13-Apr-17 08:50:07

Some more great suggestions and helpful resources. Thank you so much and also for the supportive comments - very much appreciated. It feels hard to get the balance right, this parenting malarkey is darned difficult.

I like the idea of separating handwriting practice and doing some other creative writing activities on the pc. DS will like that (although he'd still prefer to be climbing a tree).

Today we will spend 10 minutes making up some silly potion ingredients then writing them on strips of paper to make an imaginary spell. Then back to football/tree climbing.

Salty - I don't think he is 'obviously' dyslexic but I will continue to bear that in mind and I'll look into it.

mrz Thu 13-Apr-17 09:24:57

*"*^*He struggles to write joined up and his writing is very messy.*^*"* My first step would be to investigate why ...is there a physical barrier or something else.

ilovesushi Fri 14-Apr-17 19:06:06

My DS sounds very similar. He is in Y4 and we are still plugging away at handwriting but he is also doing a programme called Keyboarding Without Tears which was recommended by his OT, so that he can move on to writing on a laptop in school asap. I am also trying to get him used to using a dictaphone so in the (near) future he can use voice to text software. There is such a focus on handwriting in primary, it is easy to forget or not realise that there are lots of other options.

irvineoneohone Fri 14-Apr-17 19:14:02

There are options for the ones with proper diagnosis of problems, but not for everybody, isn't it?

mrz Fri 14-Apr-17 19:16:10

I'd avoid using a keyboard unless he is physically unable to write as in the long term it can be detrimental. Handwriting creates a motor memory (useful for spelling) which doesn't happen when using a keyboard.

MalloryScowls Fri 14-Apr-17 22:01:55

Thanks All

I'm still listening and absorbing all the info.

mrz - thanks for the insight. I'll keep the handwriting practice on paper going. I'm not sure why he finds the physical writing so hard. He's started to write longer pieces, rather than the bare minimum, but it remains messy and he's adamant he struggles with joined up compared with writing each letter separately (his writing is messy regardless).

I'm going to stick with my current approach for now (whilst checking out all the resources suggested) but I'll contact his teacher again after the holiday to raise my concerns about his progress. I've tried to have a relaxed approach so far but I'm starting to worry that it's going to start impacting him across other areas of his schoolwork. I don't want to look back in a couple of years and wish I'd been a bit more proactive at this point.

We'll be away for the next few days so I won't be able to respond for a while but any further tips/insights would be welcome.

Easter Greetings to All!

irvineoneohone Fri 14-Apr-17 23:06:45

In my ds' s case, he had no fine motor problems. But doing some upper body strengthening(gross motor skills?) as suggested by mrz, made a difference.

mrz Sat 15-Apr-17 06:36:22

You could try Speed Up! Lois Addy handwriting programme and if his fine motor skills are good I'd follow Irvine suggestion of strengthening core body /shoulder girdle.

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