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Any KS1 teachers around? How to help DS with his writing?
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donkeysandzebras · 22/08/2018 21:16

DS is about to go into Yr2. He's a late May birthday, has had hearing problems, was late to talk, was read to every night but never showed much interest in books. He's expected" for writing but his teacher from Yr1 suggested we encouraged him to do some writing over the holidays as his writing is holding him back.
Having tried, I see exactly what she means! First, there's the whole prevarication of needing a wee/ a drink/ a snack/ an itch etc. Once that's out the way, I'm not sure he actually knows how to construct a tale. If I dictate some sentences, he will write those but thinking of his own words is ridiculously time consuming - and I think he is genuinely struggling rather than trying to waste time.
Today I asked for three sentences and suggested that he wrote about an activity we did yesterday, the book we finished last night or made up a story about one of his cuddly toys. I also said that he had to include some adjectives. The first sentence was fine as he did "once upon a time ..." but the next two were like getting blood out of a stone and 20 or so words took at least 20 minutes.
Any advice or encouragement? I've already thought of making up stories in the car.

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WinkyisbackontheButterBeer · 22/08/2018 21:22

Do lots of retellings of familiar stories.
Get him to draw his story first.
What is his handwriting like? Is he having to focus too hard on the mechanics of writing so missing the content of forgetting what he wanted to say?
It might be, that some fine motor activities would help.

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PippaPenny · 22/08/2018 21:34

Add purpose to his writing and remove the pressure.
Shopping lists, diaries, plans for a model building project, maps to follow. Use the writing once it is done. This gives a reason to write rather than 'I have to write a story because my teacher says!'

I have a teaching background but for my own boys I also added a writing box (plastic ikea box tray) which was kept in their bedrooms. As we visited different places we added postcards and leaflets. I also added any complimentary stationary (hotel pads/pens and any unused forms). They could write when they wanted using this.

The advice above is also great - story telling - could also be reporting verbally following a trip and turning this into a diary and fine motor activity if pencil control needs improving.

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Smurf123 · 22/08/2018 21:47

Caption writing for a photo - tale a photo of anything and get him to write a sentence or 2 about it.. His toys doing something silly elf on the shelf style or photo of him out on a trip you have done etc.. Means he has a visual to help

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donkeysandzebras · 22/08/2018 22:34

These are all helpful.
His hand writing is poor. He never picked up a pen until about a week before reception. "a" and "u" are often indistinguishable as are "n" and "h" for example. He will still muddle "p" and "q" and "b" and "d". As well as thinking about the mechanics of the letter shapes, I think he is also thinking about spelling. And then there's full stops and capital letters.
I like the suggestions of giving him more structure rather than a free rein. And we need to do more on his verbal stories, recollections etc.
Thank you!

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BackforGood · 22/08/2018 22:54

He is only 6!
Lots and lots of children struggle with story writing at that age.
There is no way in the world my ds (who later went on to do English, and History as 2 of his A Levels) would have sat and written a story at home at that age.

You need to separate out the 'mechanics' of writing, and the 'story telling'.
Decide if it is 'imagination' or 'recall' or what sort of writing you want him to do. Then let him do it verbally. He dictates, and you write. Potentially do it like 'consequences' game where you take turns to add a sentence (again, not writing it down). Get him to verbally recall events by telling someone who wasn't there, about things you do - his Dad, his Grandparents, whoever will feign interest. Or to dictate instructions to you - how to clean out the rabbits or ow to build a ? from lego, etc.
No-one can write until they can talk - you have to get him used to doing the thinking / talking as a precursor to him being able to write much.

Then, separately, work on his muscles in his hands and arms - get him to break up lego bricks that are stuck together / roll out play dough, or even better, plasticine / play games where he has to either post things into a slot (like coins into a money box), or pick up cards (playing cards, lotto cards, instruction cards from a board game) off a table or hard floor / use tweasers (games such as 'Operation' or 'Fleas') / use clothes pegs / stretch elastic bands (you can get little pegged boards and have to copy pattern with the bands) / get small objects such as 5p piece or a paperclip out of playdough.
Fill an empty squeezy bottle - like a washing up liquid bottle) with water and get him to squirt the water to make big patterns on a fence or a wall or on a patio / give him a (emulsion type) paintbrush and a bucket of water and get him to "paint" on a fence - if you like, stick lining paper up and give him actual children's paint but the shapes must be BIG / carry objects with arms extended - like garden chairs, or pour water from a jug / commando crawl or climb up netting (if you have the right sort in your local park) - it is the same action / use the monkey bars.

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PippaPenny · 23/08/2018 09:48

Some great support above. Writing is so very complex with many parts, our system expects a lot of children.
Could his phonics also need more practice. The more au fait he is with recalling his sounds and writing them down the better. One less skill to worry about in the many he needs to draw on. BBC's Alphablocks ( some on YouTube, website available with games too) is a great programme for showing how letters join together to make words. Watching could be a restful recap!

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MerryMarigold · 23/08/2018 09:54

OP, he sounds a lot like my ds1. In the summer between y1-y2 I made him a small diary to write what he'd done in every day. There was a hot wheels race track at stake! Then between y2-y3 we did a little bit if joined up handwriting practise. He formed most of his letters incorrectly but joining up he got it. (I think he was just that much older) and his writing was immaculate though slow. He was the first boy to get a pen license in y4 and all his teachers from y4-y6 commented on his presentation. He still struggles a lot (going to y8) but he's finally taken up reading. Oh, and he was a nov birthday so nothing to do with that.

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Malbecfan · 23/08/2018 20:49

Can he dictate a sentence and you write it in a highlighter pen that he can then go over? It worked for my kids.

@MerryMarigold, the dreaded pen licence - aargh! My kids always knew lots of words but their brains were faster than their hands and their writing was always "not neat enough" for the pen licence. I took great delight in telling the up-herself Dear Leader of the school who withhold this "privilege" from DD2 that nobody in secondary school gave a shit about pen licences and all that mattered was getting her ideas on the page in pen. Didn't endear me to the woman (like I cared..) but both have acceptable writing and a shed-load of excellent exam grades between them since they left her clutches.

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MerryMarigold · 24/08/2018 09:54

I know, malbec, but ds1 is unlikely to get good exam grades. This was probably the only thing that school ever did to make him feel really proud. He never got certificates or awards for other stuff. So I'm really grateful for it. My twins' school gave them out willy nilly in y2, so it didn't really mean much. All kids by y3 were on pens. Not sure what's better but I'm just glad for ds1 that he had one special moment!

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Malbecfan · 24/08/2018 10:36

Merry, that's really sad. I try so hard to recognise effort as well as achievement in my classes - the kids who has really persevered to master something that someone else has found very easy is most definitely deserving of recognition. My school has a very easy online system for this, otherwise I'd probably forget...

I got very cross that the people who wrote 2 words neatly in 30 minutes were given the "pen licence" whereas DD2 had written 2 pages with all sorts of features in that timebut it was not very neat. Ironically she always did homework in pen and it was always neater.

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MerryMarigold · 24/08/2018 12:44

True but I assume your dd got recognized for content or excellent use of expanded noun phrases/ fronted adverbials or excellent SATs or whatever. It's good to recognise all areas of achievement so if your achievement is to write 2 misspelt words beautifully and make sure everything is underlined with a ruler, let it be recognized.

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Pythonesque · 25/08/2018 17:03

There are some great suggestions here for separating the component skills for practice. One other thing I can still remember enjoying doing in school that could add something to the list was a "sentence maker". Basically it was a set of words on small cards that you could take out to make a sentence, then when you were happy with it you wrote it down. If you want a word that you don't have in your set already then it could be added on a spare card. GIven that you say he can write to dictation but stalls when you suggest he writes for himself, putting together sentences this way might help with that part of the process.

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PurpleFlower1983 · 01/10/2018 19:58

Retelling, writing about a picture, make a story map, get him lots of settings/character pictures to write about.

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