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Lack of motivation in a 5/6 year old - how to address it?(20 Posts)
My son has only just turned 6 and is in Y1. He has never liked school - resistant to it from day 1 of reception. The problem is that he is not doing his written work in school. He is daydreaming/ staring into space/messing around, more so than his peers. The teacher says that he is clearly very capable of doing the work, because he can answer the questions verbally. This is for writing and maths - anything that involves putting pen or pencil to paper. For reading he is in the top set, and reading short chapter books on his own at home. I know she is not requiring an unreasonable amount of work from him. It is the same at home - for example, if I ask him to write a thank-you note for a present. He is perfectly able to do this, and he's actually enthusiastic about it right up until the second of having to start writing. Then he seems to zone out - he stares out of the window, stares at the ceiling light, is distracted by everything, does literally anything other than write. He will only do it if I threaten to take away a toy or a nice experience, and then he does it without any problem - so he CAN do it. It's some kind of psychological block as far as I can see.
I have arranged an approach with the teacher which we will try, and she suggested speaking to the SEN coordinator about his concentration, but I don't think either of us are very sure about this. He has no problem concentrating in any other situation and there are no other indications of SEN that I can see. His power of concentration simply seems to magically disappear when he is asked to do anything involving pen and paper. On the advice of the teacher, we are not doing anything other than the (really minimal) homework with him at home, and we even stopped his clubs for the same reason, so i don't think he's overloaded. Just wondering if anyone else has experience of this, and if so what you did about it?
I would say he sounds pretty much exactly the same as DS when he was in Y1 and most of his boys in his class...I had to see the SENCO etc for concentration issues.
Now in Y4 and apart from a bit of daydreaming is perfectly capable of doing anything he puts his mind to.
No advice other than it generally gets better! (DH reckoned he was bored half the time but the teacher wasn't happy with that suggestion...)
My ds was very similar in ks1. He can concentrate well if interested, not at all if he isn't. I didn't really think of ADHD until someone suggested hyperfocus.
Other possibility is poor motor skills? Does he have physical difficulty writing?
My ds's daydreaming has become a lot better with age. Especially he will be made to finish work during breaks, if he doesn't finish during lessons in ks2.
Anyways, 6 years old is still very young, it could just be simple immaturity.
Does he willingly write when it is something he wants to write- like his birthday list or something that is part of a game with a friend- or is he avoiding any and every writing situation?
Does he draw or colour?
He might find writing difficult hence switching off at that point. My dd hates writing but will just completely do anything other than write. His teacher thought he was distracted, ds told me he was bored/found it hard etc - the teacher didn’t believe him.
We’ve not really got anywhere beyond I now do his writing for him with his homework (he’s in year 3). His behaviour is better now in class and he’s writing a bit better. He did complain that pens hurt his hand so I’ve got him pencil grips now.
BTW my gut instinct would be that he needs to be allowed to write about things that he is really enthusiastic about and maybe writing has far too quickly become 'write three sentences with expanded noun phrases about this picture of a beautiful meadow'.
If he was allowed to write expanded noun phrases about the pokemon he caught at the weekend (for example- fill in whatever he loves) it might go better.
Teachers often fluffy stuff up too much.
However, I would also try some physical supports (writing slope, pencil grip, letter formation chart in front of him, pastel paper etc). One thing worth a try is writing on a grid (like graph paper) instead of lines- some find that easier.
Sorry for the multiple posts.
There seems to be an awful lot of negativity surrounding him writing.
Taking away after school activities, toys, days out just to get him to put pen to paper.
What happens when there is nothing left to take.
I was like that, still am. Never use a pen.
Try looking at dyslexia and ADHD
Just to add I hated writing thank you cards. It put me off celebrating my birthday as people would bring me cards and presents and all I could think of was the amount of writing I would have to do.
My DS hated writing in Y1. He still hates writing in Y9.
We spent many fruitless hours "forcing" him to write. It really wasn't worth the pain and the battles.
the well meaning advice to get him to write about something he was interested in was not helpful as it was the act of actually writing that he disliked.
We (slightly) got round it by getting him to dictate what he thought then I would write it down and he (sometimes) would copy it. This helped his creative skills but obviously not his spag or physically writing but I left this to school where he as a bit (not a lot) more amenable).
The best advice I would give you is not to make writing a battle. he is very young yet. Let him write if he wants to or if he realises he has to (which probably won't happen in Y1).
Depending on how things are financially you could consider an EdPysch report. He sounds similar to DS (although DS also had social issues which was the main reason we got the EdPysch done). The report basically came out that he had a very high IQ was very gifted in maths but average in fine motor and it was the disparity that causes issues. I think to be honest this is true of a lot of bright boys to a greater or lesser extent. They have to work a lot harder at their fine motor skills (i.e. writing) than anything else and it puts them off.
I’d wonder if writing was painful and if that was why he was switching off.
Ds6 is similar in profile. Very able but has dcd (dyspraxia), sensory issues and suspected ASD.
If asked to write he will write three or four words max but now uses a laptop in school if expected to write and he does three to four sentences plus.
Maybe he just doesn't like writing? I'd be trying to find strategies that make it fun. The more pressure there is the more he might switch off. A messy tray full of shaving foam and getting him to play with that making shapes and stuff to start building up the muscles and fine motor skills that writing needs might be a good place to start?
Sounds similar to my Ds . Look up Dysgraphia and Add. He may be inattentive and might find it hard.
I also would reinstate after school activities . Take a step back at home , play doh, painting walls with water anything he enjoys that encourages him to use the grip . He is still very young in terms of school years . Don’t punish at home for school.
... has never liked school ... homework ... stopped his clubs ...
It's the school's job to make sure he produces work in school, don't punish him outside for their inability to get him to deliver - that's not to say you should ignore it, but simply talk about why it's good to produce etc. Dropping activities and extra homework are not going to force him to like school and are most likely going to make him resent it even more.
He's only five!!
Where I live, DC haven't started formal education yet, which they do at six years old.
Until that time they are having fun running around making the shapes of vowels with their arms and legs, singing vowel sounds, forming letters with play doh, pricking the shapes of letters through tracing paper etc.
How how you go back to basics with your son and adopt some similar "informed play" techniques!
Alternatively, writing might just not grab his interest or be his strength; in which case he might benefit from taking the pressure off and running around in a forest school type scenario for a year or two until he's ready for more formal learning.
Agree about not stopping his clubs too; if he enjoys them that is!
Thanks for the thoughts. Teacher reported a much better day today so hopefully there will be a change. I suspect it's a mix of being young/ immature (I agree it is v young to have this kind of formal school experience, but nothing I can do about it) and bored. We'll see how it goes.
About the club's - he wanted to stop them. Said he preferred to be at home with mummy and daddy. That has always been his objection to school - home is just preferable apparently.
I think his fine motor skills are good, really - he loves building with small Lego and can use knife and fork very well. Active, well coordinated etc.
He does just have strong ideas about what he is interested in and I think following the group direction is not how he likes to learn. Unfortunately that's just school, though.
I'm not sure what sort of writing aids he is getting at school. For reading bi suggested a ruler to him because he sometimes misses a line (he is not keen), and occasionally he will misread a word (,eg strain for stain or vice versa). But I think this is just lack of concentration or guessing, no other signs of dyslexia. As said up thread, he is only just turned 6 so seems normal? No complaints of pain when writing either.
He has just very occasionally written something (a thank you note or a card) completely of his own accord, unasked. He is generally uninterested in drawing or colouring - he will if he is really encouraged to, but will always choose playing with cars or Lego or swingball / whatever over anything pen-based. I wonder if they just do a lot of it at school and that's why.
Oh and he's never been interested in the shaving foam letters thing. Even at nursery, he would only do it if he had to. Would much rather play cars or run around outside.