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5yo refuses to write (Reception)(44 Posts)
DS (5) is in Reception.
He's doing really well and hitting his targets. But one thing that he hates is writing. Even his teacher told us that she struggles to get him to write; once he starts he does it, but initially refuses.
We've been trying to do writing exercises at home but now, as soon as I say writing, he goes into meltdown!
How do I change this? I don't want him to write pages obviously, but I think he gets annoyed because if he can't do a letter properly he immediately goes "Oh Mummy, I CANT!!!"... I encourage him and say Don't worry let's try again...
I think to improve and gain confidence he has to practise and he doesn't want to practise... I've bought writing books, we have magazines, pen control books...
What else can I try?
No advice but I am really worried that this will be my son next year. Watching with interest.
oh dear, 5 , hitting targets. Its so sad. Leave him alone.
My son doesn't do writing as his hands need strengthening with his fine motor skills. He has excercises which do not include any writing at all!
emergent writing? pretend shopping lists , story books
As a primary teacher I would suggest: Leave him alone until September. Let him grow and mature a bit over the summer. Make sure to do some fun drawing or fingerpainting but no preasure to write. He's 5.
Leave him alone til he’s 7. Boys get it at 7
I would avoid putting undue pressure on him and wait. It took 3 years of gentle coaxing followed in Y2 by gentle insisting before ds1 was happy to produce more than the occasional reluctant sentance. School did the coaxing and insisting, I kept out of it.
One theory is that it is the permanence of writing that some children find troubling. The fact that once they have written it and it is wrong then it cannot be undone.
Things to try to encourage writing at home without it looking like writing practice.
Coloured chalk on a blackboard or pavement.
Wet brushes on dry paving
Making marks in trays of sand or slime
Whiteboards with dry wipe marker
Writing in the condensation on a window, mirror or shower screen.
Magnetic doodle pads
By making it a game and just doodling without pressure, he can try out shapes and letters without worrying about getting it wrong.
Play with play dough. Do colouring in. Finger paint. Draw with chalk. Tell him writing is banned until September.
My 4yo is similar - also reception. His teacher thinks he needs some help strengthening his hand muscles. One thing he LOVES to do is put teeny tiny little beads into those hobby jars you can buy. You know the tiny little ones with a cork on top. We pretend we're making magic potions 😁
I also encourage him to play with clothes pegs and painting the fence with water. All fun things that don't scream LEARNING at him.
Apparently his writing is improving.
Yep loads of finger strengthening games, play with clay/play dough , hide things he likes (Lego minifigs?) in screw top jars for him to undo, buy cheap little padlocks from a supermarket and get him to lock them to things (keep spare keys somewhere!) , Threading stuff, hamma beads... Loads of ideas online, Google finger gym. Don't tell him it's to help him learn to write if he's really resistant!
Make it non permanent as pp said, also try using his finger in sand, shaving foam. There's free apps for a tablet where they can draw on screen. Start with doodling and work up to tracing shapes and then letters when he's feeling more confident.
I've used a toy car to go over each letter to get the idea of the right formation, then with a finger on paper so it doesn't leave a mark. You could write the letter in chalk and he could wash it off with water, going over the shape from the right starting point
He might find it easier to do it big to start with, air writing with his whole arm or with water on a big wall.
You could also do it wrong (really wrong!) And get him to show you how to do it, takes away some of the pressure to be right and he might find it funny
try to relax
my ds was the same - only every wanted to draw (whales specifically and he was damn good at it) - he's now sitting gcses and in top set English and got top marks in his year in recent English creative writing test.
I read books to him, made sure he saw me writing lists and we bought all those learning to write books too but he did it in his own time.
Don't stress, is the answer. He's only in reception. Find other things that he actually likes to help him with fine motor skills (drawing, colouring in, Lego, painting models). Keep him interested in stories by reading to him. Encourage him to make up stories verbally. If he wants them to be more permanent, he tells them to you, you write them down and he does the pictures (I've got quite a few of these joint efforts from when DS was 5 or 6). Above all, don't turn learning and school into a chore.
He's only 5, I'd forget the pencil on paper writing.
Play to improves fine motor skills. Play dough (look up dough disco on YouTube!), beads, pegs, threading, colouring, drawing, painting, cutting, sticking, paint outside pavement/patio/wall with water.
My 6 yr old writing hating boy will voluntarily write things on our kitchen whiteboard that he wants me to buy in the grocery shopping! Biskits, jakt poteto etc
Based on our experience, I would say do nothing. Just ignore it and stop pushing it.
My son was very similar. He still dislikes writing, but now towards the end of year 1 it is starting to click without us having pushed it at all. He was an advanced reader and good at maths, and even happy to type things out on a computer, he just dislikes and struggles with the physical process of writing. Because he was otherwise bright, engaged and interested in things, I had no concerns about the lack of writing.
Similarly, assuming you have no other major concerns about your son's development (and it doesn't sound like you do), it is reasonable to assume that he won't remain unable to write forever. He simply needs a bit more time. But if you push him, you run the very real risk of turning him off the idea of school and learning forever.
I do also second much of what vintagegoth says - a small whiteboard and markers has been really useful for us and my son has really enjoyed writing and drawing on this. The smooth surface means there is very little resistance, so the actual process of moving the pen is easier, and it is very easy to wipe away in the way that even pencil on paper is not.
What stage is he at with his writing? I'm assuming we are talking letter formation, if so it's more fine motor control than anything else.
I agree with PP, back off, add in fun activities that use fine motor. Disco dough is great for strengthening hands. Gross motor movements also helpful in the long run. So many ideas already listed.
Just try to turn everything into a game or fun or let him lead.
I've worked in reception classes and in other classes with 'reluctant' learners. They have had the fun of education sucked out of them, it's much easier to keep it going than it is to reignite that enjoyment.
My son refused to write in yr r & did the absolute minimum in ks1. He just didn’t like writing and being a perfectionist didn’t try. He is now 15 & is a really fluent, quick writer. His writing improved in yr 3 when he was a bit more mature & his teacher put her foot down and stopped accepting 1 sentence & demanded paragraphs instead.
What vintage said.
I'd also add foam letters into the bath, playing with sounds and building cvc words too as it may be his phonic knowledge worrying him.
Keep it fun
If he likes a word or letter he's done on a whiteboard copy/take a picture so you have something to share with people.
Have you tried rainbow writing? You do a large letter in the middle of a piece of paper, child then goes over it with another colour, then another colour etc. You've practised motor skills and have a piece of work to share, you're not trying to exactly go over the letter if you see what I mean
My dd was a bit like this and continued into year 1 - she didn’t refuse to write altogether but when faced with a task that was a bit more challenging like ‘write about your weekend’ she would refuse to even make a start, what we did come to realise was that she was sitting next to a couple of girls who had beautiful handwriting that did it effortlessly and we think it knocked her confidence because she knew hers wouldn’t look like that made me feel so upset to think that she must have felt like that as she is confident chatty girl! And made me feel even worse that it took us so long to realise! Anyway now by the end of yr 1 she is writing some lovely sentences independently and and really tries hard, and likes doing shopping lists, letters for granny etc at home. I think it comes eventually, I didn’t push too hard as attempts at homework ended in frustrations all round!
Theraputty is good for strengthening, you can get it from Amazon and then look at rolling/snapping bits off/pinching it and manipulating it.
I laminated some printed out exercises and my 5-year-old enjoyed drawing over those. We try and do some writing every day and now he is doing really well, he will be just short of exceeding by the end of the year from a point of refusing.
He'll be fine. It's just classic for a boy, usually their other skills are much more advanced than their fine motor. I wouldn't wish the writing too much. Just do activities (find the coin in the playdoh etc) that encourage fine motor skills. Maybe try to sneak in some writing during the long summer holiday (e.g. help you write a shopping list - he can write biscuits at the end or something). Sign a birthday card for grandma etc.