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Dreadful handwriting concern...

(41 Posts)
Feminine Thu 13-Oct-11 03:17:25

We are returning to the UK next year (in US)

My DS13 has really bad handwriting ,to the point that I can't understand 70% of it!

It has not always been this way, he started his school life in the UK and churned out reasonable 'starter' cursive. When we arrived here,he was instructed to revert back to printing...anyway this played havoc with his 'style'

I am actually getting concerned, he can't/won't see the problem, and seems to think computers should/will take care of it.

I am really looking for help in getting him focused, and maybe some advice as to how he can improve.

Its not helping that his typing skills are superb ,its only fulling his argument to not even bother to print clearly!

How much of his coursework will be on the computer?

Thanks all smile

MindtheGappp Thu 13-Oct-11 05:25:13

Coursework has been replaced by controlled assessments which take place during class time.

Unless the teacher books a computer room, these will generally be handwritten.

If he uses a laptop in lessons, the school will be able to apply for him to use a laptop in exams.

weevilswobble Thu 13-Oct-11 05:46:42

Could you buy an ink pen and a calligraphy book and take it to that extreme? So that he can see how beautiful and artistic handwriting can be?
Calligraphy was done by monks and also associated with meditation and a calm spirit. Could be good for the soul to have time away from bloody computers?

troisgarcons Thu 13-Oct-11 05:59:43

Final exams are hand written. Maths will always be hand written. (unless of course he is assessed and found to have a condition that requires use of an alpha smart - laziness won't be a reason!)

Ffew schools have the level of funding that allows swathes of PC suites. Some do, but they are few and far between.

BestisWest Thu 13-Oct-11 14:58:34

If you are really concerned contact the SENCO at your new school in the UK. My DCs both have handwriting problems and use Alphasmarts/laptops where possible in class, Final exams are NOT always handwritten. DD sat several GCSEs and ALL her A level papers on a laptop. If handwriting is extremely bad there is also potential for a scribe to be used.

Feminine Thu 13-Oct-11 15:39:25

Thanks for all the advicesmile

You know, when I watch him write , it is as if he has no strength in his hands...and thats not the case wink

Some letters he forms backwards even (the loop part of a lower case h for example) , so that the final letter looks 'off' IYSWIM?

But, he used to be able to write, and when he writes his name its lovely- the last evidence he once could ...sad

bestis thank you, what is the SENCO dep?

CustardCake Thu 13-Oct-11 15:57:19

SenCo - is special educational needs Coordinator.
They may investigate conditions such as dysgraphia (which is a child whose reading is fine but struggles with written work) and offer help and intervention

Feminine Thu 13-Oct-11 16:24:56

Thank you custard.

I will do that smile

His numbers are also badly formed ,I'm thinking that in Math ,showing his work will look dreadful... I am glad that there are departments like that, so I can at least have him checked.

smile

MindtheGappp Thu 13-Oct-11 17:42:01

It is very straightforward to be allowed to use a laptop in exams, as long as he usually uses it in lessons.

As has been mentioned, a scribe is a possibility, but, IME, reasonably clever kids do not make much use of their scribe.

I think a laptop can be great for exams with lots of writing, but hard for Science and Maths, where there are calculations. He really does have to try to tackle his handwriting. He should get to an acceptable standard if he puts his mind to it (ie legible and not too big as to overflow the space on the exam paper) - it doesn't have to be beautiful.

You could ask the school to make handwriting one of his targets when they are assessing his work, and reward him yourself now and again. I don't think you should make him practise handwriting as a stand alone, or use it as any kind of punishment. Low key and consistent is what you should aim for.

My DS (now 17) also suffers from poor handwriting which I feel originates from having spent 4 years in the US at a crucial time - moving from UK cursive to US cursive and then back again. It didn't look too bad when he was little but now it is awful. He doesn't use a laptop in school as it is legible but not pretty.

cricketballs Thu 13-Oct-11 18:04:09

hes a boy! The vast majority of boys have terrible handwriting (my own included!) Unless there is an underlying condition there will not be any allowance in external exams to allow the use of a laptop, therefore I would suggest a lot of practice....

MindtheGappp Thu 13-Oct-11 18:06:39

That's not true, cricket.

The major criterion for using a laptop in exams is using them in lessons for the year or two leading up to GCSEs.

It is very easy to be granted permission to use a laptop.

Feminine Thu 13-Oct-11 18:08:20

mindthegap interesting...your situation sounds just like mine smile

When we arrived in US (as I said) he did have handwriting ,now really it looks like collection of scribbles.

The US and UK cursive are so different, plus in the middle he then had to learn to American style print-I'd be worn out too... wink

I'll find ways to try your suggestions, I am hoping he is still young enough to fix it!

Thanks so much.

MindtheGappp Thu 13-Oct-11 20:04:18

Good luck with your uphill battle, feminine - I can't say it will be easy. Don't feel you have damaged him by living abroad - hopefully you will see that the advantages outweigh his poor handwriting. I know I do.

I will also say to keep up your interest. A lot of people will poo-poo handwriting and spelling in this computer age - but they still are really important.

Mico62 Sat 15-Oct-11 15:58:05

DS's handwriting was always a running joke at parents' evenings but because he was in the gifted & talented group no action was taken by his primary school.

When I raised my concerns with a teacher in Y9 I was referred to the SENCO who arranged for him to be assessed. He was diagnosed with hypermobility but I was told because of his age there was little that could be done to improve his handwriting as his 'style' was already established.

Arrangements were made for him to have 25% extra time in exams and he wrote his answers on wider ruled paper. He ended up with 15 GCSEs and 4 A2s so the exam marker must've been able to decipher his scrawl and he's now in his 2nd year at uni. He did have to be reassessed for the extra time to be allowed for uni exams.

cricketballs Sat 15-Oct-11 16:19:55

but there must be an underlying SEN issue/condition to enable the laptop use to go through. If it was that easy, everyone will be pushing to use them in exams.

Also, you need to consider how the exam ethos is changing; I honestly believe that if this government continues with its changing of everything that they may try to withdraw support in exams (or at least curtail how much support/extra time is given)

LIZS Sat 15-Oct-11 16:29:53

cricketballs, it is not downto the government who uses a laptop in exams , it is the exam board and very unlikely it will change in time to affect a 13yr old.

Does your ds touchtype op, that would help establish his normal use and if he doesn't then a laptop may well not help his working to time anyway. ds did his 13+ entry exams on a laptop (with support of EP assessment) but now year 9 is back to writing in class for the time being and seems to be doing ok so far. Can you get him assessed by an OT in US on your health insurance as it will take a while if you leave it until you come back and he can improve his strength, grip and positionng in the meantime on their advice.

cricketballs Sat 15-Oct-11 16:50:47

Lizs; but it is down to the government about educational changes and they can put pressure on the exam boards.....

cricketballs Sat 15-Oct-11 16:52:36

sorry hit post too soon!

In terms of the time for changes, the GCSE/vocational changes are going to affect all year 9 students within 2 years of the change in policy

Feminine Sat 15-Oct-11 18:20:17

LIZS yes, DS can touch types accurately, and at break-neck speed!

This is where one of my concerns comes in really, he is a tech wizard ...no idea how do explain that without looking like I am bragging!

Computers are his thing.

that is why I am wondering if he is just being bloody lazy, or has a problem.

I tested him the other day ...his first few words start off reasonable but they get smaller and smaller and quite honestly odd confused

So, I am wondering if he started to feel more comfortable with typing as he can move fast? educationally, he was always ahead, not anymore ...its not unusual for him to bring home F grades.

Its a mess.

When we get back he will be in YR8 ,will he be the right age to start more vocational studies? I know he will stay till 18 ,which (for me) sounds a good idea for him.

I will ask the school here if he can be assessed, I am doubtful though as it is an old-fashioned school board.

DS can script and install programs, in his computer class he is only allowed to type text...confused this is one of the reasons we are coming home actually.

LIZS Sun 16-Oct-11 07:58:18

Can you find an private OT ? Are you sure he'd only be year 8, if he is already 13 then he'd be Year 9 next September, or even Year 10 if he turns 14 in the meantime. You choose GCSE options late in year 9 so can focus a little more and can drop weaker subjects but not sure what you mean about taking up more vocational studies. The curriculum hasn't really evolved that way yet until 16+ although plans are afoot for earlier, but he may be able to do DT, Art, ICT , Drama, Music, PE etc at GCSE depending what the school offers, alongside traditional English, Maths, Science (2 or 3). language etc. Cricketballs, I have a 13yo in Year 9 and very am doubtful he would be affected by any such changes.

Feminine Sun 16-Oct-11 12:20:24

Well yesterday , we decided that we need to find out if its him being lazy...or something he might need outside help with.

At first he started writing with the same sloppy outcome,then I noticed that somehow he has started to hold his pen strangely ( only a subtle difference though)

I reminded him how he used to hold his pen, and he tried again ...as you can imagine this was not a ball of fun grin after adjusting his grip, it did improve slightly

We have told him that he will need to practice each day, just to see if we can overcome/fix this at home.

Although I said he was 13, he will have his 13th Birthday in November...smile

I am guessing he will be able to take vocational subjects at 16?

tabulahrasa Sun 16-Oct-11 12:30:33

It's nowhere near as straightforward as - they use a laptop in lessons so they can use one in the exam. There needs to be a reason they're using a laptop.

If you think it might be partly because of his grip, try putting a pencil grip on his pen, or a shaped pen

LIZS Sun 16-Oct-11 12:36:30

Then he's currently Year 8 age, entering Year 9 next September. They start to drop subjects in year 9 ime.

MindtheGappp Sun 16-Oct-11 13:07:26

The reasons for using a laptop in lessons will be the same as for exams.

The access arrangements have changed in the last year where to show a need for extra time, scribe/reader, and laptop in exams, you have to have evidence of their use in lessons and in school exams.

Illegible handwriting is something that will impede a student from reaching their full potential, so it is not a case of demonstrating a medical need, or whatever. If the examiner can't read their scripts, then they need an alternative method of completing them.

tabulahrasa Sun 16-Oct-11 13:12:16

Yes but to have evidence of their use in school, they need to be using one in school and to get access to one in school you have to have an actual need for one.

That's not impossible, but it's not a case of - my DS has terrible writing, can he have a laptop please?

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