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tips to encourage writing?(18 Posts)
DS is 6 and young for his year. He really enjoys maths, reads well and has a vivid imagination. The only thing he doesn't enjoy is writing. He finds it hard work to get his ideas down on paper. Therefore the quantity of what he produces is low and his handwriting is not the greatest. His teacher doesnt seem particularly worried but he lacks confidence in his ability to write and says 'I'm no good'.
We loves craft and has excellent pincer grip, is good with scissors etc.
Does anyone have any hints or tips for helping him to enjoy writing such that he may do more of it and then it would improve? I spoke to his teacher and my impression is he does everything he can to avoid writing. We have practised handwriting at home but havent done it for a couple of months as I dont want to ram it down his throat as it may be counter productive?
Are there any tips on what we could do at home to help him and boost his confidence?
I should have said he is year 2.
Some suggestions that have worked for our 6 year old.
1. Encourage him to read more. My DD will sometimes transpose plots and descriptions from books she has recently read into the stories she writes
2. If he likes art, you could ask him to either think of visual story boards, or even sketch out a few pictures to help him think through the plot. Obviously discouraging over-reliance since he will not have time to do this when his story writing is timed
3. We did get a dictionary from Mrs. Wordsmith. Not sure if this helped a lot but it does have some good descriptions and visuals that may aid the addition of adjectives and adverbs to stories.
4. I also helped her think through plots and suggested some amendments. You can also try storyboarding eg summarising plot in bubbles before writing the story
5. Eventually, once he feels more confident, and if he is preparing for assessments of some sort, keeping to time can be hard. But you will gradually progress to having him write to the time limit set
Oops - sorry. I may have misinterpreted your question entirely. I thought it was more to do with creative writing rather than handwriting per se! Does he write cursive?
He loves reading and so already does plenty of that. We are not working towards an assessment and he does not do cursive writing. His handwriting is ok but nothing special. Its the act of getting things down on paper which seems to be hard.
I think I'd be curious whether it's the physical act of writing he finds difficult or organising his thoughts? Obviously the easier he finds it to physically write the less of his mental capacity will be absorbed with this and the more attention he'll have for deciding what it is he wants to write. What happens if you ask him to for example summarise a story he's read and enjoyed? Is he able to do this verbally? Conversely if you ask him to write down a shopping list as you dictate it is he able to do this with ease?
This would somewhat determine which skills he needs to focus on to make him more keen to write. If he's having trouble organising his thoughts you could sit with him when writing decide exactly what he's going to say first (probably only a sentence or two at a time then write it out only once he's clear what needs to be written.
With my eldest (who sounds like a similar boy great at maths, good reader but very reluctant writer - although in DS's case his handwriting was bloody awful) we really focused on it over the summer and went with little and often. We bought a big collection of postcards off amazon and wrote one a day to lots of family members (it helped DS if I drew on lines on the postcard). It was quite a small bit of writing so not intimidating. We also did things like having him choose a recipe he wanted to make (always ended up being a cake or cookies) and I'd have him write a shopping list of things we need and also sometimes summarise the recipe from a video onto paper so we could follow it later. We kept it informal and didn't stress that we were practising handwriting just that Cousin Fred LOVES getting your postcards etc.
Ahh thankyou CripsSandwiches. It sounds a similar situation to ours. He has no trouble summarising what he has read or making up albeit brief stories. So I think its more the labour of getting it down on paper. As you say perhaps practising handwriting little and often so it easier and less effort frees up more time for thinking about the story.
I've started with some of those tracing exercises and then we can move onto practising writing... the postcards sound a good idea. I have tried this before but it was painful. Maybe one for the summer holidays?
Physically writing is slow and his writing is still unreliable with how tall the letters are etc. We have practised before but perhaps it was not enough. I have seen his school english books and at most he is writing 4 lines a day so perhaps this is not enough?
DD2 is this age and has a dyspraxia diagnosis. Her writing is slow, painful and still looks a lot like an early reception child if she's having a bad day. She's desperate to achieve and please as well and a very intelligent kid - just can't get it down on paper.
In collaboration with the SENCO mid-last year - we took the pressure off completely - used an iPad to record most of her written work (combination of Clicker Docs and Snaptype Pro for worksheets), moving onto a laptop as we got a class teacher prepared to actually go and GET one of those. Removed the combination of having to compose the content PLUS the motor movements and act of physically writing - and it's bearing fruit now. She still does handwriting practice daily in school, and they're gradually moving to where she does a first draft on computer and then redrafts handwritten if there are not many corrections to do... and she's got over this total fear of writing and avoidance and is actually willingly doing lots at home too. Much better evidence of the level of content she can actually generate as well taking the physical part away for a while.
It absolutely wipes her out though - it's that hard for her - bless her!
Kuponut I dont think he has any issues with writing its just laborious. He has good pincer grip with scrissors, lego, jigsaws etc so I dont think that is an issue.
How is his spelling?
Might he be worried about making spelling mistakes?
Many young children, especially if they are good at maths, hate writing, because they know they are likely to misspell.
Should that be the case with him, try do get him to concentrate on what he wants to say and not to worry about spelling. Many English words contain STUPID spellings (e.g. mAny English wOrds havE - compare: men, in, birds, had-). Bright kids all learn to spell reasonably well eventually, even dyslexic ones, but it takes effort and isn't much fun, if you have a logical brain. Even worse if you are dyslexic.
His spelling is very good as a point of view of learning them for a spelling test but I think when he is writing the spelling only slows him down.
If it's to do with fine motor skills, I wonder if you could engage him in things like dot-to-dots, or find your way through the maze type of things, where he has to hold and manoeuvre the pen but it seems more like a game?
I would second the mazes and dot to dots suggestion. You can get super tricky dot to dots & mazes online (things like this.
Raspberry123 - Lots of children do well in spelling tests, but not when they are trying to concentrate on what they want to say. (I have even had adults tell me that they avoid jobs that involve writing because they know they are liable to misspellings.) You could just ask him if that worries him.
He might also just find it difficult to think of what to write about. You can help him with that in various ways. One is by asking him to tell you about any outing you have recently been on, or a film you saw and what he thought of it. Anything. Then suggest that he tries to write down what he told you, with your help.
I would get him mark making and writing in ways that don’t feel like practising handwriting. Take the pressure off, as pp said above. We had a reluctant writer - wouldn’t use lower case at all until y1 and still not keen although much improved, also in y2 now but old for the year - and things that helped him were: doing quizzes/treasure hunts etc where he has to write down the answers to clues. (Then inventing treasure hunts where he wrote the clues for us!). Lots of mazes and puzzles like that. Playing hangman and other games with chalk on the patio (probably more a summer occupation but he did it for hours). One of his teachers said that children sometimes worry less about making mistakes in chalk because it feels less permanent than pencil on paper 🤷🏻♀️ Actually she also suggested doing letters with his finger in sand/flour etc in a tray as feeling the letter can help - the physicality of it somehow.
Also I would say that giving it time will probably work. They can’t get good at everything at the same time, and if he’s happy reading and doing maths you’re doing pretty well for this age even though it feels frustrating!
Iirc when my kids were in y2 they had a topic called fairy tales. The teacher would recap a story that they all knew like 3 Little Pigs then the kids would write it in their own words. As they knew the order that the story happened, they could focus on stuff like making interesting sentences. (By interesting I mean more colourful words, using connectives to make sentences longer- whatever the current writing targets are)
On a different week, the writing task might be creating their own different ending. As the story is familiar, most kids would only have to worry about the end being different.
I also remember my child telling me about a lesson where it was explained that stories were like a mountain. The beginning of the story would be at the bottom of the mountain, the middle of the story was at the top of the mountain and the end of the story is the bottom of the other side of the mountain. His goal was to write a paragraph for each at the time )might have been end of y2)
In my kids school, they did Big Write. There would be a topic announced by the teacher one lesson, a lesson where they planned their writing and a lesson where they wrote their piece. They did Big Write until y6
Can he retell a story verbally? It might be worth practicing that skill if he finds that hard.
Come to think about it, I remember my kids doing a cookery lesson in y2 and they had to write the recipe later. I suspect this is to help with developing a proper beginning/middle/end mentality
Oh the other thing we were told when he was doing sentences was to think-say-write, so that he’s really clear what he’s going to write before he even starts trying to do so.