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DS (7, year 2) REALLY struggles with creative writing(18 Posts)
DS is 7 years old, in year 2. We are doing fine with home schooling in general and it is really helping me to understand his strengths and weaknesses. In common with myself and his father he is more into maths/science than English which is fine.
His handwriting is fairly poor but we are working on in, his phonics knowledge and spelling are quite good - he is in the top group and not struggling. His reading level is fine, Pearson Bug Club 'white' which seems to be the expected/slightly above the expected level for year two. But I've noticed how much he struggles with any form of creative writing - stories, poems etc. Even simple short stuff. His imagination is fine, he can design stuff from Lego/drawings etc.
Basically wondering if anyone has any tips to gently encourage this?
We play silly song making, rhyming and in conversation try to include imagery and adjectives. We play continue the story game when walking or driving abd change the lyrics on famous songs or tunes.
I read childrens poems at bedtime and talked about songs lyrics.
Is it the "creative" element or the "writing" element that's the issue?
If it's physically writing he dislikes, I'd suggest getting him to dictate while you write, or typing his work. or you can do things like you provide one line of a story and he has to come up with the next.
It's definitely the creative element. He is fine at copying/ writing out 'what I did today' type stuff.
We found these things helped
1. For kick- starting ideas in a way that made it not like extra homework www.storycubes.com.
2. Physically acting out an in-story character's actions - you just say what the character's doing. Graphic novels & comic strips are great resources - dc 'get' that the picture tells the story. If they can describe what's happening they can tell (ie write) the story - great confidence booster.
3. Short sentences & limiting yourself to one or two adjectives at a time . It makes for a clearer storyline and moves it on. Complicated isn't clever.
4. Use the old mantra of 'who, where, when, how,why?'
5.POSTURE. Check how he's moving his pen. From the wrist or the shoulder? Is it different with a pencil or a paintbrush? Check again using a writing slope (prop up a bread board or tray if necessary). Moving from the shoulder is more tiring and can be painful. Ideally, refer to a paediatric physio, to rule out specific issues, like dyspraxia.
It’s not unusual for boys to struggle with descriptive writing. It’s the reading that is key. Daily reading is invaluable and always having a book with him. Keep reading with him and find books that he is motivated to read. If it happens to be football, Greek myths or dinosaurs - anything.
Find a favourite author like Cressida Cowell. My ds loved the how to train the dragon series and David baddiel has some very funny children’s books and he might ask to read the next one and the next one. And the obvious like Roald Dahl and David Walliams.
My ds struggled at that age but now at 13 is much better and more creative with his writing. The handwriting goes downhill sadly. They can work more readily with hard subjects - maths and science with definitive answers.
It will get better as he gets older and he needs to have the breadth and knowledge of language, spelling and techniques and that comes with reading.
And if he doesn’t want to read - one trick to try is reading time per day = screen/iPad time. So that he gets the habit of reading for a reasonable chunk of time. And then gets a reasonable amount of screen time. For some reason even now my ds can only read for 10 mins at the most. He really has to be pushed to read for anything longer.
In time if you still feel it’s necessary you can look at a book “descriptorsaurus” it’s a bit of a required text if you are studying for 11+ or 13+ exams. It’s expensive. It was very useful for him and his school would use it to get the kids to be more imaginative. But it could be good if you find English not the easiest subject . I would wait first and see how it goes.
Rereading my post again I can see my book recommendations were for an slightly older child - the two books that my ds really enjoyed at yr 2 going into yr 3 were “captain underpants”and “the secret diary of pig”. They are different and have interesting illustrations which helps.
And for different reasons I quite enjoyed them too.
If he likes drawing it's often good to plan a story in a map. You can then encourage him to write a couple of sentences for each picture.
Thank you all. He does read, he is happy to do his daily school reading and enjoyed being read to at bedtime. He did go through a patch of reading for pleasure - mainly Roald Dahl - but sort of stopped and is less keen now. I didn't want to make it compulsory (in case it became a punishment) but linking it to screen time could help.
His school teach the story map method and this does seem to help so I will encourage him to use this more.
He's just done an 'interview a Grandparent' exercise for school which he managed cheerfully and with no particular issues so it is definitely the descriptive/creative side that needs work.
We have/had the same issue with DS1 - he's just not very imaginative, but loves reading.
I find the following things worked.
The Who, what, where, when, why method works well.
We have a book too called a descriptosaurus which is very useful.
Linking things to stuff he's read already.
Perhaps try Pobble with him. It gives a different resource every day and questions/activities to accompany. You could start off with just saying the story aloud (you could record it and send to his grandparents? Would be a nice motivator) and keeping it short.
When mine were that age the teacher would suggest a template
Eg 2 sentences describing a character, 2 sentences where something happens to the character then 2 sentences where the situation is resolved
Then she would get the kids to brainstorm some good words to use and they'd write a first draft.
With creative writing there are some classic starters like "once upon a time" or "a long time ago" which might be the easiest way to start.
Has he got a favourite book/ computer game? DS is the same age and dislikes writing (the standard is great but it’s like pulling teeth)! I’ve had great success with letting him write about his interests e.g. his school work was to write a report about an animal, but I let him write a report about a Minecraft creature (it was excellent). He did a piece of narrative based on an adventure he’d had in Minecraft as well, which really helped with a beginning, middle and end. TBH I’m happy if he is engaged in what he’s writing so I’ll try and ‘hook’ him with anything I can. He’s also written an extra chapter for a book he really loves and a different version of a classic story eg Goldilocks and the three wolves.
I find lack of planning skills can have an impact on the ability to write creatively. DD believes she's 'bad at writing stories' but she just picks up the pen and starts writing with no sense of what is going to happen next.
I've been encouraging her to jot down the 'beginning, middle and end' on post it's before she starts writing. It's definitely helping.
Creative doesn't have to mean just bog standard fictional stories, it can be an advert for a supercar he has designed or police report describing an alien landing in the back garden and stealing something unexpected from eg the rubbish bin, or a wanted poster for a notorious supervillain. It could be, making up a recipe fit for a superhero's breakfast (list the ingredients, write a method). Or maybe it is a finish the story kind of exercise. Or the other way around - you give him an ending and he has to imagine what happened to lead up to it.
My DD at age 9 struggles enormously with stories. Her ideas are too big for the story, and she gets muddled. Also she writes too slowly and trips up on spelling.
I've found that she works better with support for her writing - so, I make sure she has a resource page printed out with a number of useful adjectives, fronted adverbials, words to use that are better than "said". And then she can incorporate these, and doesnt have to think of everything herself.
In time, I think she will automatically get some of the resource-page contents embedded in her brain and won't need fo refer to it.
Buying a good children's thesaurus also a must.
In the meantime make sure the basic skills are there - handwriting speed, spelling and grammar and punctuation.
Have you seen those Story Cubes? My son really struggles with creative writing ideas (age 6 1/2) but these really help him. He rolled three dice to design a character then another 6 to set the scene and story.
I'm not too bothered about what he's writing at the moment, more general handwriting practice, but they do tend to give him a starter on some wacky story ideas.
I can’t give you any advice because I had exactly the same problem with my eldest. His creative writing and handwriting was truly appalling, and I’m not joking, until about the end of year 9. He had a tutor since year 4 and even they, there were a few said to me “he’s just not getting it” I used to have him lying on the floor howling every Wednesday which was English homework night. I remember a homework in year 6 which was to describe a market scene. He wrote something along the lines of “there is a market, there is a chicken, there is a man with a hat. It is busy” he was 11 with no additional needs.
Suddenly in year 10 (and with a tutor) he started to produce better work and I breathed a sigh of relief that he might get the 6 for GCSE he needed to get into 6th form. He still hated English, he still huffed and puffed about it “I’m never going to be a writer, what’s the pooiiiiint?” And somehow, he got 8,8 for his English gcse. To this day I don’t know how but my message is, take it slowly and if he had no additional needs, just doesn’t like it, be fairly confident that it will eventually come together
Watch some of the kids stuff from the Hay festival - they’ve got a online schools programme. The Cressida Cowell one seemed to inspire my similarly uncreative 8 year old DS (y3) and he’s asked to watch some from other authors!