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What to do about a poor writer, YR1? Worksheets, tutor or just leave it?

(12 Posts)
Missstickinthemud Thu 12-Oct-17 10:48:25

Hi all, I'm hoping someone can help me with this and share their perspective of how they've dealt with similar issues.

My son is in Y1 and he has really bad hand writing. He starts letters in the wrong places, they are massive and hard to read, and he doesn't leave appropriate spaces despite being told. The school are aware of this as it was flagged up as his weakest link, so to speak, in his report at the end of reception last year and he was below the level he was expected to be at.

I'm trying to support him with this through extra work at home with a Collins work book, but it's proving to be a real struggle and he is resistant to doing it. Partly because he is tired out by the end of the school day and doesn't want to do it. Partly because he gets frustrated with himself not managing it and wants to give up.

I have slightly malformed hands and I can't actually hold a pen properly myself. I've learnt my own way of doing it, but this means I can't demonstrate how to do it properly to him. When I hold a pen the proper way my writing is awful, so it's not a great example to follow! (His hands are fine so that doesn't seem to be the issue).

My husband could help him with this instead as he doesn't have the problems I do, but it would only be on weekends which I feel isn't enough.

I'm contemplating seeking out a tutor, because I feel that he might work better for someone else, plus it would be useful to have him supported by someone who can actually hold a pen properly. But then I'm not sure if that's too extreme, whether it will be too expensive. I also don't want him to feel under pressure.

Another option is to persevere with the workbook or get a different one. I've seen this course advertised by 'The School Run' and it seems good but I've not seen any reviews so who know?

Another option is to just leave it and hope that the school can bring him up to speed.

I'd be grateful if you could share your thoughts and experiences. Thank you

irvineoneohone Thu 12-Oct-17 10:59:58

Imo, first thing for you to do is speak to his teacher and ask for advice.

Ginmummy1 Thu 12-Oct-17 11:00:28

I’m sure others will be along with great advice, but firstly to say he’s young! I don’t think it’s uncommon for a child (particularly a boy) not to be quite ready to get to grips with writing. Making him do lots of extra writing at home could be counter-productive if it puts him off writing altogether.

How are his gross motor skills? Is he generally well co-ordinated? How are his fine motor skills other than writing? Does he use cutlery appropriately? Do up buttons? Is he good with Lego, Playdoh etc? There are lots of things you could do at home that aren’t anything directly to do with writing, that would help him to develop his fine motor skills if these are a bit weak. Someone (possibly Mrz) has a great list of activities to try at home.

Missstickinthemud Thu 12-Oct-17 11:12:34

Ginmummy1 Thanks, It's hard to judge impartially but I think his motor skills are fine. He usually isn't clumsy unless he's had a growth spurt. He makes great Lego models with small pieces, like those little one blob circles. He does spill his dinner down himself sometimes, but then don't we all.

Who is Mrz?

irvineoneohone I will do that, thanks.

irvineoneohone Thu 12-Oct-17 11:20:40

Mrz goes by Norestformrz now. She is one of the best primary teacher who has vast knowledge on MN.
I'm sure she will give you some great advice later.

muttleydosomething Thu 12-Oct-17 11:28:09

I'm tempted to suggest it'll come without the need for a tutor, but you need to make sure his letter formation is ok. My DS (good with tiny lego, etc) was like this for most of last year, although he was starting letters in the right place. The letters were all different sizes and were all over the page, with rarely any finger spaces between words. We had so many other issues I didn't want to tackle this one till we had some nice free time ahead of us, but I bought my DS some pencil grips and it helped because his hand had been hurting when writing. This led to his enjoying drawing more, which I'm sure was good for his pen control. Then in the summer at the end of Y1 we worked our way through about seven or eight pages of activity/handwriting books, basic ones focusing on letter formation, and I didn't push too hard. Suddenly we're in Y2 and he has nice neat writing - except when he's tired.

brilliotic Thu 12-Oct-17 11:39:05

I think I would mostly leave it, however make sure that when he DOES write, that he uses correct letter formation. I found that lined paper helps, where you have the main line (on which the letters sit - and where every letter starts (depending on your writing style)), two lines above it (that show how high the letters/ascenders should be) and one line below (that shows how far down the descenders should go). This helped my DS write neatly, though he had letter formation down pat already, was just all over the place with sizing.

In Y1 DS was a reluctant writer so we got him to write things that he could feel enthusiastic about - mainly wish lists for Christmas! Or to add things (treats) onto shopping lists. If you did that, you could say 'we'll only actually buy that treat you write on the list if you write your letters right' (not spelling, just letter formation) - so he has an incentive to focus on his letter formation.

greyfriarskitty Thu 12-Oct-17 11:44:14

DD has some weird letter formations which I really wish we had tackled at this stage because they do slow down her writing now.

First I'd try to make sure that his hand is as comfortable as possible - DD found pencil grips uncomfortable and much preferred the stabile pencils with the grips cut into them. Also might be worth trying a writing slope (a ring binder will do as a trial and if it works the school might get you one).

You could try working on the letter formation without the pen - there are a few apps which do this and which are more fun! Is your school using cursive or print?

greyfriarskitty Thu 12-Oct-17 11:44:27


Kokeshi123 Thu 12-Oct-17 12:25:52

I would get a tutor for a few months. I know it sounds hot-house-y, but just think of it as "paying another adult to do something instead of me." Kids often respond better to a non-parent when learning a particular skill is becoming a source of tension between parent and child.

Drinaballerina Thu 12-Oct-17 12:28:11

Our school did extra work with those who weren't the best writers - I think that was closer to the end of Y1 though. I'd have a chat with teacher - it may be they do too?

Valeriemalorie Thu 12-Oct-17 12:36:15

Talk to the teacher first of all. My DD got work sheets to do at home and triangular shaped pencils which are easier to grip.

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