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How can I improve DS's handwriting?

(26 Posts)
DrNortherner Fri 24-Aug-07 21:21:26

He is 5 and about to start year 1. His handwriting is terrible. He can write his first name, sometimes beautifuly, sometimes it looks terrible. His pen control is very poor, he struggles with difficult letters such as f and s and gives up because he thinks he's rubbish.

I've also noticed he starts his letters in the wrong place which makes it more difficult.

Also, his attention span of writing is ooh, all of about 3.5 miniutes.

Any tips much appreciated.

PS. Where is Cod?

mckenzie Fri 24-Aug-07 21:29:57

please please don't worry. There are quite a few threads about this topic although i'm not sure how many i'll be able to find you. Boys are much slower at pen control etc than girls and apparently it is genuinely harder for them. Don't stress about it and try not to stress your DS. Get him to do toher things that require hand control and strength (these ideas were on a leaflet given to me by the school - playdough, lego, writing in the sand, painting the garage door with water etc).

I am in exactly the same position as you except DS is about to start year 2. It's hard not to worry I know.
How is his reading?

dogbert Fri 24-Aug-07 21:31:03

I want to know this too!

There are always the Phonics books for practising letter formation and spacing and keeping the letters on lines. But my DD1 (also 5 and going into Year 1) hates 'em!

She likes giving titles to her art work though and with a little encouragement she is writing more and trying to make it as neat as her pictures. But if I suggest anything else she thinks it's 'work' and won't do it. sad

UCM Fri 24-Aug-07 21:31:45

France and it's normal, niece the same and if I recall correctly I was like that then as well. Now I have beautiful handwriting if I chose and can do caligraphy.

DrNortherner Fri 24-Aug-07 21:33:23

As he is my only child it's difficult to say where he is at with his reading. I reckon about average. He loves books, knows all his letter sounds and can sound out all basic words like cat/mat etc, struggles with said etc but we are getting there! He enjoys reading and always tries to read signs and labels but just seems to detest writing.

mckenzie Fri 24-Aug-07 21:35:09

another tip I remember - get the DC to write the things they would like on your shopping list.
or to write the details of an activity that they really enjoy on the calendar.
and buy a thicker pen with free flowing ink (roller ball type I guess) to make it easier for them to grip and write.

seeker Fri 24-Aug-07 21:35:30

He's 5 - don't worry!!! He'll get there. Lots of children can't write at all at 5. And 3.5 minutes is quite good. My ds is 6.5 and I would cheer 3.5 minutes concentration on anything that wasn't football! Leave "work"to school, and practice other things that help with gross and fine motor skills at home. Modelling, drawing, dancing lego, Knex, anything like that will help. And apparantly crawling under a cargo net type thing is very good for writing! Honest!

mckenzie Fri 24-Aug-07 21:38:12

I only asked as I use reading as my 'thing' to make myself chill out about the writing. DS loves reading and so i tell myself it would be unfair on his peers if he was good at both things grin and so as his reading is so good he needs to be really bad at writing to level it out. Daft i know but sometimes I really need to focus on this to stop me getting in a panic.
His teacher last year was very encouraging and he did come on quite a bit but is still leaps and bounds behind most of his class. Has your DS's school talked to you about this? Are they concerned too?

DrNortherner Fri 24-Aug-07 21:41:16

School aer not concerned no but his report in this area was pretty low.

He loves lego and knex and strangely enough can spend hours building something or other. We have those bead things and he hates them but then so do I!

Reallytired Fri 24-Aug-07 21:42:36

See my thread

"Write from the start" is a brilliant book. It is not about learning letters as such as so much learning the skills of controlling a pencil. I have been using it for almost two months with my son and the results have been staggering.

seeker Fri 24-Aug-07 21:44:19

What sort of "low"? If the school hasn't flagged a concern, I wouldn't worry. They change a lot in year 1, I promise

coppertop Fri 24-Aug-07 21:46:50

Ds1 had a lot of help to improve his writing. The things that really worked for him were:

- playdough - every day at school he did about 5 minutes of rolling and squeezing a piece of playdough.

- Making letters in sand, flour etc to encourage fine motor skills and also to help letter formation (Ds1 is right-handed but always formed his letters as though left-handed IYSWIM)

- Writing on the interactive board thingy (can't remember the proper name).

- 1:1 help for a few minutes at a time to go through letter formation with the Teaching Assistant.

I agree though that 5 is still fairly young. Ds1 only really started writing properly a few months before his 7th birthday.

Reallytired Fri 24-Aug-07 21:49:21


Does your son have an IEP for fine motor skills? My son has been getting 5 minutes a day to work on his fine motor skills.

Clary Fri 24-Aug-07 23:25:19

Yes don't worry too much at this stage.

Loads of the kids in the FS2 class I help in can barely write thei rnames, FWIW.

Help him with ideas suggested here for fine motor.

Also Playmobil and any fiddly toys.

Don't make it work but why not try things like:
shopping lists
note to grandma/pals
birthday cards
Holiday diary with lots of piccies/photos/drawings

And make it fun with special sparkly gel pens, stickers or whatever appeals to him.

admylin Sat 25-Aug-07 20:12:49

I would also say don't worry - my ds used to have terrible writing, his sister was the opposite, she is now 7 and writes as neatly as me. Ds however is now 9 and has only just started writing anywhere near neatly within the last half year.
I did quite alot of work with him, got him handwriting sheets to do, got him to write an extra page a day. One thing that worked (because he was quite lazy) was that he had to write so and so many pages to get to choose a treat.

DrNortherner Mon 27-Aug-07 10:03:51

Thanks for the kind comments.

What is IEP btw?

filthymindedvixen Mon 27-Aug-07 10:18:55

my boy has horrendous writing (aged 9) and I have been told it's common. Though dyspraxia has been mentioned I don't think he is.
There are exercises they can do with them to aid flexibility, talk to school. (We now encourage him to type as much school work as possible...)

filthymindedvixen Mon 27-Aug-07 10:19:58

IEP is an individual Education Plan (i Think. DS has one but it's crap. )

LIZS Mon 27-Aug-07 10:25:06

He sounds very normal for his age tbh so try not to worry. dd's writing suddenly clicked into place in the last term of year 1 , she has s in her name and only mastered not reversing it towards the end of Reception but even now struggles with 8. ds who has motor coordination problems still struggles at 9 but it has improved vastly over the last 2 years with one to one or small group work, in short sessions, focussing on groups of letters at a time ie "one o clock letters " , those which start at one o' clock position like c , a . He also has used a pencil grip and had OT to try to relax his wrist, improve his posture and press less hard, as that made him tired and tense.

Practice is the key but if he is reluctant to do that find other activities to improve his fine motor control, Hama beads , modelling in playdoh ( rolling sausages/snakes , squeezing, pinching etc), writing in wet sand and flour with fingers, painting or chalking on a board, or a stick,copying patterns with coloured pegs to time, Lego and K'nex

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 27-Aug-07 10:25:10

At 5 I think he's a bit young to worry about it, tbh.

With ds1 who had very untidy writing I just got brutal, because I knew he could do better (I'd seen it!) - I think when he was about 7. I got a lined pad and drew a horizontal line halfway between the marked lines, and then drew some letters/wrote some words and got him to copy them. This is a bit like the way I was taught to form letters, except we had much bigger line spaces. Using a conventional pad makes the space available much smaller and meant that he had to write smaller and keep it tighter.

He hated doing it, but I insisted. No treats either blush because it was something he just had to learn to do. <Bad mother, obviously>

samanthar Tue 28-Aug-07 17:12:29
have some things called help with homwork ..i posted about them a few mins ago but have only just read yr post. fwiw the whole motor control thing is much later in boys..cerebral cortex or sthing being laid down later or some such. ds and dd twin are about 9 months apartat least and im guessing this gap will widen not close at school. she will spend ages colouring stuff, drawing cards etc while he will do about two lines and be off with lego or whatever

Reallytired Tue 28-Aug-07 17:42:01

"IEP is an individual Education Plan "

Its an individual education plan. My son spends 5 to 10 minutes doing one to one work with an LSA. His target is to cut along a straight line using sissors.

I am at a lost to why learning to use a pair of sissors is such an important skill. I would have thought that learning to control a pencil was a more vital skill.

It has to be remembered that an LSAs do not always have an extensive level of training. A determined mum can be just as effective. We have had outstanding results with "Write from the Start".

EmsMum Tue 28-Aug-07 18:05:20

My DD was like this. Didn't matter how often I showed her how to write an "a" properly it was always done as a circle with a big stick added after... till one day came home from school proudly showing how her teacher had told her to do it ... exactly the same as how I had [theres a reason why we have teachers you know. Authority!]

Anyhow, continued messy, inversions, too big etc till this year - year 3. Suddenly joined up writing kicked in and she won 2nd prize in her class in handwriting competition!

So there is hope...

Dandi Wed 29-Aug-07 12:57:59

We had the same problem with ds (6). He struggled through reception with writing and his reception teacher advised practising at home doing shopping lists etc. We didn't have a lot of success, though - he's a bit of a perfectionist and if he thinks he's not very good he's unwilling to try. But at the start of Yr 1 he had a very determined teacher and we went 'back to basics'. Every week he concentrated on a different letter, did a bit of practice and school and came home with a practice sheet every weekend. We had a big sticker chart with a small treat every time he'd mastered a few letters and a big treat at the end. His writing has improved loads and he was very proud of himself.

anniebear Wed 29-Aug-07 17:22:25

I posted a while ago about this, My DD is 6 on Friday and going into yr 2

She is doing really wlel at school and working higher than average but cannot write neatly (she does tend to rush to 'win'!!)

Teacher mentions Sats and how she will be marked down if they cant read her answers!

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