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6 year olds - standard of writing

15 replies

sphil · 08/01/2008 21:09

DS1 is 6.5 and in Year 2. I've been increasingly worried about his writing. It's partly a motor skills problem (he has some dyspraxic traits) but also a question of output and the ability to get ideas down on paper. I have no idea of the standard he 'should' be achieving at his age.

To give an example- tonight he wrote a letter to the tooth fairy (he woke up this morning with a tooth missing - we think he swallowed it!)This is what he wrote:

Dey toof ferey
My toof has fell awt.
Love DS1

It took him about 15 minutes, most of which was spent squirming, fidgetting, dropping his pencil etc. I deliberately didn't help him at all - I wanted to see what he could do unaided, as I normally have to prompt him for almost every word.

OP posts:
Clary · 09/01/2008 00:03

sphil my DS1 is a very unwilling writer and we have tried all kinds of things to get him to write. A note to the tooth fairy is just the sort of thing (also shopping lists, thank you letters, diary etc).

DD is 6.5 and her writing is lovely, but I think she is above average in that area. Certainly to judge by Christmas cards plenty of her peers are a) not v neat and b) spelling like yr DS.

Have you spoken to his teacher about it? For motor skills, try things like lego, knex, playmobil, even play dough etc.

Clary · 09/01/2008 00:05

Sorry what I meant to say (but I see my post doesn't) is that I wouldn't say that was so so terrible.

You do need to find ways to encourage him tho. what is he interested in? Can you get him a Dr Who puzzle book (or whatever it is) to inspire him?

partsky · 09/01/2008 00:26

My Son is 12 and has motor problems; writing was always a nightmare but we were lucky to get a wonderful O.T. when he was 6; she gave me a very thick booklet called "Write from the Start". It was produced by an OT and an educational therapist (I think). It does not use writing but dot to dot, swirly patterns and pictures which require children to colour in dots, complete the petals on a flower, draw a wiggly line along a dragons tail, etc. The idea is the keep the childs interest and keep their pencil on the paper to encourage their writing skills. Its very clever as there is no actual writing but as an adult you can see that your child is actually forming letters (such as letter O when colouring in dots etc) but does not know this. Some of the patterns require the child to keep the pencil on the paper in a continuous way so encourages joined up writing. We found it excellent. Our Son enjoyed it and did we only asked him to do about 15 minutes a night. If kids dont like writing or know their writing is bad they will avoid it. Ask if someone in the School knows about this book. If not, an OT should be able to help or refer you on. I used to
make my own up.

maggiems · 09/01/2008 10:02


DT1 wrote a letter to the tooth fairy a few weeks ago . His tooth also went missing.

His letter went something like this

Dear tooth Fairy,

My tooth fell out but I lost it. Could you please still bring me some money. I was a very good boy

Love DT1

According to his teacher DT1 is ahead of where he needs to be for his year and he is really good at spellings and reading. His actual handwriting isn?t great although his pencil grasp is excellent. He tends write very light on the page.

Now Dt2 is a different story. Getting him to write the letter that your Ds wrote would have taken about 15 mins amid the fidgeting , needing a wee , drink etc. I think he would have written it a little different but with probably the same number of mistakes . His teacher says however that his spellings are quite good

I was actually coming in on the train to work this morning with a mother of a boy in DT2s class. He is in a composite class and this child is a year older albeit the youngest in his year(7 in yr4) . She was saying that she had to work hard to remind him of all the 2 letter sounds again at the start of the year and that in November it all seemed to click and he is doing very well now. I have heard of a lot of ?clicking ? stories about boys between 7 and 8 so I am living in hope.

Happy new year BTW

maggiems · 09/01/2008 10:10

That should have read (7- yr3)

You probably know but my Dts are also 6.5yrs and in yr 2

Buda · 09/01/2008 10:19

I seem to remember hearing somewhere that with boys something in the hands doesn't develop properly till they are about 7 - that is what I am hoping for anyway!

DS is 6.5 and his writing is pretty bad. He is also a bit lazy (gets it from me!).

I bought that Write from the Start programme from Amazon but we haven't used it yet - I must dig it out. The teacher keeps giving him lines of letters to practice but as he just gets through them as fast as possible I am not sure they help much.

ingles2 · 09/01/2008 20:55

DS2 6.5 yr 2 writing is also pretty poor! Not along the line, varying size, spelling erratic. Spoke to his teacher, who seems to think this is average and is more concerned with getting his (very imaginative) ideas down on paper. I wouldn't worry too much tbh.

Bink · 09/01/2008 22:05

sphil - lots of people responding about the spelling and the motor skills and age-appropriate-ness, so lots on input on that ... but sounds like you are also concerned at how difficult ds1 finds it to produce content in meaningful sequence, is that right?

That latter content-and-sequencing problem is our (that is to say, ds's) problem (much more than letter-formation or spelling). It's been quite stark this holidays, as dd (7) sits down to her thank-you letters, sticks her tongue out and murmuringly dictates herself through "... thank you for ... the lovely, no, I'll say ... beau - ti - ful ... book, I really wanted it. We had a ... lovely ... Christmas ...", whereas ds straightens the blank page, twists the pencil about, catches my eye and hurriedly writes the capital "D" of Dear ... and then stares out the window, shifts around the chair, scratches his neck - exactly like one of those twitchy tennis players. All the time with the blank page balefully glaring at him.

So, having read somewhere that "lack of self-talk" - as in, not having instinctively developed the skill (or strategy, not sure what it is) of talking yourself through a process - is something quite characteristic of boys like ours, I am trying to get ds to copy dd's dictating technique. So although he's quite capable left to himself (given 10 minutes ) of writing "Dear Auntie Flo", I get him to tell me what he is going to write, just a phrase or short sentence at a time, & then think it word by word in his head as he writes. It is a slow process but we end up with quite nice characterful lively nearly-coherent letters & FAR less trauma than if I expected him to generate the whole thing on his own. There is also usually a point in the letter when the logjam seems to ease & the later sentences run on much more easily than the first ones.

PS - letters to the tooth fairy are rather good practice. Unfortunately the TF round here has got into the trap of replying with Tolkienish depth - latest letter had to consider the plausibility of doing a Fairy Census, & what sort of graph you might use to present the findings. So, if your TF is tempted to do anything similar, be forewarned.

[Sorry this is a typically wordy post. But we know each other by now )

purpleturtle · 09/01/2008 22:13

Oh yes. The trap of the letter-writing tooth fairy! Was in its grips myself yesterday!

Today we have received a report after dh's dyslexia assessment - undertaken just before Christmas, at the grand age of 35. He apparently has a dyspraxic profile, including dyslexia, and the thing that made we think this might be relevant was that among the plethora of results was that dh has a visual processing speed on the 0.4 percentile. He now gets 100% extra time for exams! Maybe your ds, like my dh, requires loads of extra time.

purpleturtle · 09/01/2008 22:14

Oh dear. The fact that I should actually be asleep in bed really shows in that post, doesn't it?! Sorry. Hope you can decipher it.

dramaqueen · 09/01/2008 22:15

Oh blimey, your ds are exactly like mine, also 6 and in year 2. His 4.8 yr old sister's writing is better than his, though his spelling is good. I am not sure about his idea formation as we never get through the bum shuffling falling off the chair phase of trying to write something like a letter .

Bink · 09/01/2008 22:24

Purpleturtle, yes, it was perfectly clear - and indeed my ds has been found to have a very disproportionately slow visual processing time - in fact it's one of the "issues" on his IEP.

(I usually remember that the TF hasn't done its letter at about, oh, 1.35 am.)

purpleturtle · 09/01/2008 22:31

I'm currently quite baffled at how dh got through school at all, let alone the fact that he's got an Arts degree and a PhD!

I don't let him drive though. He's dangerous.

sphil · 09/01/2008 23:07

Thank you all for your lovely, reassuring and helpful responses - you've given me lots to think about.

DS1 does lots of Lego and construction toy stuff. I notice he often uses his teeth to get pieces apart though, rather than his hands! He's also quite keen on puzzle books - mazes and the like.

We have Write From The Start but I'm not very good at doing it regularly. He gets quite a bit of homework + reading, which I'm keen to keep up with as it's the one school thing he's really good at.

Bink - I think what you say has hit the nail on the head. Your description of your DS1 writing his thank you letters made me lol - EXACTLY the same as DS1, especially the 'catching my eye' bit! I'll definitely try the 'self talk' strategy - I have real problems getting DS1 to tell me what he's going to write - he just launches in with no idea where he's going.

I was tempted last night to write a reply from the Toof Ferey - I even considered glitter - before giving myself a quick slap round the face and heading for bed .

This visual processing stuff is VERY interesting. I've been considering taking DS1 to a behavioural optometrist for some time - think they can help with this. Any experience anyone?

OP posts:
ingles2 · 10/01/2008 09:44

my 2 ds's are completely different and their brains obviously work in very different ways.
ds1 is extremely good at maths, always been brilliant at lego, knex etc and yes he uses his teeth too. His writing is very nice, but his content is not so good, he's the one who stares around trying to think of something to say.
ds2 the 6.5, has never been interested in Lego, not very good at maths,writing pretty poor, but his ideas, speech and comprehension are fantastic. Your Ds1 sounds very like my ds1. We have a private tutor and she gave us lots of words recently, nouns,verbs connectives but most importantly adjectives and adverbs and has asked DS1 to make 1 interesting sentence every night. I can't believe how much this is helping ds1 find something to say, even his teacher has commented on it this week. I would definitely give it a go...HTH

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