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Illegible handwriting Y9 DS

(17 Posts)
gardeningmama Thu 13-Jan-11 11:33:44

My Y9 DS has appalling handwriting and terrible spelling. This has been the case for some time. In Y5 and Y6 I was told not to worry about the spelling because the SAT's only accord a tiny percentage of marks to it, so best to concentrate on other areas!! shock

In Y7 at a new secondary school I flagged the issue up with head of English and felt placated for a while. However, Y9 has seen a new level to his scruffy presentation. DS's work appears to reflect a real disorganisation and lack of care, but even his teachers say that the content is actually there, it's just deciphering it is the problem. DS has always struggled as a left-hander - smudging work, not being able to watch what he is writing, but I feel progress should be possible by now. Also, taking the 'well, he's a 13yr old boy, what do you expect?' line is also not acceptable.

He is doing himself such a disservice by not attending to care with his writing. At home, DH and I have attempted in the past to give DS help with handwriting but I'm the first to admit we are not consistent and therefore have not made any impact.

I contacted head of English yesterday and voiced my renewed concern, saying that I was willing to give my son handwriting 'lessons' at home and that I would get a list of y9 spellings off the internet, (willing to give it another go!) but what could the school offer? I was told that the issue had been passed on to pupil support who are at this time making a list of pupils for assessment to see who will need a scribe for GCSE's. I think this was meant to make me feel reassured. However that to me is shutting the door after the horse has bolted and is not really supporting my son in TEACHING HIM HOW TO WRITE!! grin

Any ideas as to what I could do? And how much can I demand of the school? Ideally, I would like him to have some one to one handwriting sessions after school, AT school. I guess lack of funding will be the excuse for not offering me that.

Wish I was one of these people who managed to cover this sort of thing at home - filling in the gaps that the school doesn't address - but I also feel strongly that the basics of writing is what the education system should be in charge of. I'm furious with the primary school to be honest (and myself for not getting it sorted years ago).

CrosswordAddict Thu 13-Jan-11 16:17:28

He has to WANT to improve his handwriting before there can be any real progress I think.
Having said that, the school should be more pro-active.
As far as your anxiety goes, there may be a case for using a word-processor for his GCSE Exams. Lots of candidates do and can do really well if the content is good. All is not lost but you need to be a little more pro-active and not give up I feel.
Good luck with this one.

Kez100 Thu 13-Jan-11 17:21:39

My son is similar (plus he has reading issues) - he is severely dyslexic and mildly dyspraxic.

PonceyMcPonce Thu 13-Jan-11 17:32:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheVisitor Thu 13-Jan-11 17:37:35

All of my children have terrible handwriting, including my 18 year old. What has helped massively is going back to printing, rather than joining the letters, plus with my eldest, he's found a fountain pen really good. The other three use a rollerball so they don't have to press down. This helps too. With his spelling, get him to read as much as you can, as that's the way to good spelling and grammar in a child with no problems with dyslexia/dyspraxia.

Naoko Thu 13-Jan-11 18:01:07

I'm 25, was yelled at all the way through school for the illegibility of my handwriting, and no amount of support helped. It's not that I don't want to write legibly, I just can't do it. That's why word processors were invented. I'd not stress too much about the legibility of writing. Spelling is a problem though, and that I would try and push for school support on.

gardeningmama Thu 13-Jan-11 21:39:38

Thanks all. The return to printing his letters rather than joining them up sounds a good starting point, and I'm certainly not completely opposed to him being offered a scribe or use of word-processor. DS has always been a fantastically good and enthusiastic reader and fine with comprehension, so discounted dyslexia. However, we are a rather chaotic household at times, with strong, noisy personalities and I do wonder if this all contributes to how he expresses himself on the page!

I'm going to ask the school about one to one support for a 'crash course' and see what they say.

PonceyMcPonce Thu 13-Jan-11 22:24:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gardeningmama Thu 13-Jan-11 23:12:52

That's really interesting PMcP. May I ask, what were the circumstances behind your DD getting a diagnosis for dyslexia in the end? And what have been the advantages (if any) of the diagnosis?

gardeningmama Thu 13-Jan-11 23:15:41

Just to add, I don't know what the official differences in his levels are between reading and writing/spelling, I will look that information up. It appears to be huge! His reading age has always been a few years above his actual age.

madhattershouse Thu 13-Jan-11 23:20:02

He sounds like he has Dysgraphia...same as my son! Did he used to not leave fingerspaces when he was younger, took longer to learn to tie shoe laces... Dysgraphia is the sister of dyslexia and basically means difficulty with writing. My son (y6) has had this for the entire of primary but as his reading and comprehension were fine they said there was no problem..till last year. He is now under senco and has had hospital appointments for simple exercises to aid the hand eye co-ordination that can be the simple reason for much of the problem.

Supersunnyday Thu 13-Jan-11 23:21:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gardeningmama Fri 14-Jan-11 12:15:50

Thank you all. This is extremely helpful and I have been inspired into action. DS's school have contacted me with details of support they can offer him for a term after Easter. I have specified that I would like the broader issues of poor presentation and chaotic handwriting looked at, not just spelling. The suggestion above (thanks madhatter) about Dysgraphia is particularly interesting and I will look further into this. He seemed to reach his milestones ok, haven't noticed problems with hand/eye co-ordination, but he has trouble keeping his writing on a line, letters vary in size (often very small) and often not completely formed. Spaces in-between words are erratic .....

DS has had hospital appointments in the past in the Eye clinic as he complained of 'seeing double', though it did not seem to disadvantage him in the classroom or trouble him when reading. He has some glasses which he can wear for reading, tv etc, but he never does - doesn't feel the advantage, but it makes me wonder whether it's a Dysgraphia symptom?

Maberry Fri 14-Jan-11 13:51:13

Try this page They are fantastic as they offer a handwriting crash course for teenagers who have missed out on crucial handwriting skills. They are amazing, and because they actually work (we saw a huge improvement in 2 weeks) you start to see results immediately and your confidence grows. They are completely different to anything I've tried before; they're written to help you stay on the line, form letters and joins correctly and space words evenly. They also help you with spelling patterns and to write great sentences and stories and they have plenty of space to practise. I know that the Learning Support teacher and Occupational Therapist at our school rave about these books.

PonceyMcPonce Fri 14-Jan-11 15:55:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lazymumofteenagesons Fri 14-Jan-11 17:34:38

Don't disregard being assessed for using a laptop for GCSEs. If your son moves back to printing rather than joined up it will be very slow. My son has writing as you describe - all squashed up, not on the line, different size letters and not formed properly. His writing stamina is also bad and lower than average words per minute. he now uses a laptop in lessons and exams. In fact he just told me he has done his Spanish writing gcse coursework on laptap and then added various accents by hand after!

If you decide on laptop route he needs to learn to touch type.

It does not really matter what the reasons for the messy handwriting are as long as the school recognise the problem and are helping.

camptownraces Fri 14-Jan-11 17:36:02

A left hander (with a hooked grip) is unlikely to be helped by using a fountain pen, ever, because of smudging. Fountain pens tend to slow down fast writers who need to pay more attention to the formation of letters.

It's not easy to secure a change in handwriting in a child of secondary age. One of the difficulties is that a new way of writing takes quite a while to become automatic, and therefore detracts from the effort which should be put into thinking about the content of the writing. It can also slow down the handwriting.

It would be quite surprising, imho, if there was a significant improvement after the intervention proposed. But do let us know.

When does he have his first "public" exams? Can he type?

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