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5yo boy doesn't like to write

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I have a 5yo ds who will be Kindergarten age this year.  I am struggling to figure out what to do with him.  He has an aversion to writing/drawing/coloring, etc. I had him go to preschool this year, partly because of this issue.  He was also very stubborn when it came to ME trying to help him learn anything.  This year has been amazing for him and he has learned to cooperate more and his teacher has really worked with the writing thing.  He will actually write his name now, but he never chooses to draw or write on his own and I'm afraid that if I try to encourage it as part of school he will go back to rejecting the idea and be turned off from it.  Part of me wants to just leave him alone and wait until it comes from him, but part of me doesn't want to lose any ground on the progress he made in preschool.  I don't think it is a fine motor issue, because he is an amazing lego builder!  He doesn't have trouble in any other area except that which involves holding a writing instrument.  It's just hard for him.  He is beginning to read and learning math from what I do with his brother, but all of this seems like it will be harder if he doesn't want to write/draw/color.

 

Part of the problem may be that his older brother who is just 17 months older is quite an artist.  I'm sure there is something there with not feeling like he can measure up.  Help!  What would you do?  Encourage, Insist, Lay off until he's ready? 

post #2 of 15

Yes let it go for now!!!!  Most likely it is totally normal!  And even if it isn't, 5 is really little little to be worrying about writing.  As an aside, look into movment  or sensory stimulating acitivites.  They always help but if he has any sensory issues, writing is a likely place to struggle.  The treatment can be dietary and fun OT/movement therapy.  Look at The out of sync Child Has Fun or Raising Sensory Smart Children (something like that)  There are seriously a TON of really fun activities that seem to have nothing to do with writing that might help in a big way. 

 

My son also loves building legos and didnt start writing until we dealt with his sensory issues at around 7.5-8.  BTW if he is a reluctant writer, look into Writing with Ease.  I wish someone would have told me about it when DS was younger.  But NOT at 5.  And NOT until you are sure that he either has no sensory issues or they have been addressed.

 

GL!

 

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Tassy!  I should also mention that part of my "issue" is that my older ds started writing letters on his magnadoodle at age 3 and had pretty good writing skills, writing words at age 4.  So, I know that my expectations are skewed, and I'm trying to let that go, but I also saw that alot of the kids in ds's preschool class are doing way more writing than he is.

 

 

post #4 of 15

I Really understand.  I have twins that are SOOOOOOO different.  They have basically opposite strengths.  It is hard not to think of something that isn't a strength as a 'deficiency'  (sorry for all the negatives but that is sort of the point).  One excels at music so where the other is is 'behind'  except they are 5 and it is totally normal.  One picks up new motor skills like she is breathing so the other is obviously 'behind'.  Except that she is NOT!  Anyhow, I would never tell anyone that nothing errant is going on.  But a boy not wanting to write at 5 is way more normal than one wanting to write at 3.  HTH  :)

post #5 of 15

The muscles for holding pencils are going to be different from those to build legos.  On a pencil the movement goes side to side, up down and around, not just picking up holding and placing even tiny legos.  Writing is continuous; using legos, the muscles are used briefly and then relaxed.  So while it might not be "fine motor skills issue" per se, mechanically it still has everything to do with the muscle tone of those small muscles in the hand.  

 

My 7yo had the exact same issues and at the same time your ds.  She drew just a little (and rarely), painted a lot and became completely discouraged with writing.  I chose not to push.  In the course of time I purchased a sparkle-covered composition book and pens that switch colors.  And she learned to read.  I never really connected how much the resistance to writing words was connected to her reading, but now I understand it.  I also placed a clipboard, paper and pencil on the end table, noticing that she fidgeted with things when I read to her.  I started it to save the table and realized that it could be useful helping build the muscles in her hand.  She just doodled.  Then, one day, she just started writing regularly.  I think it was a perfect storm of reading skills, maturity, doodling practice.

 

She still doesn't draw a whole lot.  One thing she did really love was watercolor pencils.  You really do need to use them on watercolor paper, but it was a nice change from the wet-on-wet Waldorf-style watercolors they usually do.

 

I do become mindful of my own writing.  There are days when I can go the entire day without writing a word.  Not exactly the best example for encouraging the girls to write.  Why would they want to write if I don't?  (Actually my 5yo does write simply for the sake of writing.  Like your first son, she writes easily.)  Some days I actually make up excuse to write--mainly a "to do" list.  Crossword puzzles etc.  DD liked those secret code puzzles, even when she didn't like writing at other times.  

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

This has been so helpful!

 

SweetSilver, I also have noticed that I haven't been doing much writing.  Even my grocery list is now done on the computer.  My older ds used to help me write a grocery list, now there is no occasion to do that.  I need to be more mindful of showing them how important writing really is!

 

Tassy, I get the twin thing!  Even though mine aren't twins, but because they are now at an age where they are so "even" in most areas as far as what they play with and how they play, I sometimes forget that they are not twins!  And since my older ds started writing at 3, I have been witness to him writing for THREE YEARS!  That is part of why I wonder when my littler guy will start.

 

 

I had a bit of a revelation today doing math with my older ds1.  He's the writer.  He has been struggling with his math work lately, feeling challenged and wanting to give up--alot.  This our last week of his K year and I am trying to get him to power through some of our final materials just so we can BE DONE.  Today, he wasn't feeling great, so I had him bring his math book to the couch and sit on my lap.  Alot of the work was review, but the stuff he's been challenged by.  I decided that I would just read the problems with him, have him answer and I would write the answers.  HE FLEW THROUGH THE MATH!   Even my writer boy was feeling stressed by having to do the math and then write it down.  I thought the math was the problem. The math is not the problem, it is the translation from brain to paper.  I am re-thinking my fears about delaying writing.

 

Thank you so much for talking me through this... so helpful!

post #7 of 15

I have a five-year-old non-writer, too. She is actually in the process of going through some OT evaluations so I may be dealing with something completely different than you. But, I did want to put in a plug for this book: The Write Start. There is also a blog of the same name if that's more your style. Anyway, it has been very helpful. There are a lot of good ideas, and it also helped me to remember just how much goes into writing. 

post #8 of 15
Quote:

Originally Posted by Grace and Granola View Post

 HE FLEW THROUGH THE MATH!   Even my writer boy was feeling stressed by having to do the math and then write it down.  I thought the math was the problem. The math is not the problem, it is the translation from brain to paper.  I am re-thinking my fears about delaying writing.

 

 

You had a wonderful insight that I'm sure other parents of math-averse youngsters would love to know.  I do find that both my girls like doing come puzzles in their head, and found that writing it down was just busywork.  

 

They loved Anno's Math Games, BTW.  I have come to like keeping the math in their heads at this age (5 and 7).  
 

 

post #9 of 15

Schools have to push the envelope on writing skills with young children because written work is the primary method of evaluation in schools. A teacher can't possibly sit with each child in her class and do math work orally. So there's tremendous pressure on kids in school to get busy writing from a young age. I'm convinced that it's not really developmentally appropriate to expect all 5, 6 and 7-year-olds to write copiously and well. Some of them just aren't ready for it. And in homeschooling it simply doesn't matter. Homeschooling parents don't need to exert all that pressure, because they can gauge their kids' learning orally and observationally in a way schoolteachers can't. 

 

None of my kids wrote much at all at age 5. An occasional word or phrase. A few numbers. Sometimes we used number stamps for math. Often I scribed for them. When they wanted to "make stories" they tended to use the computer. They mostly began writing more around age 8. In the meantime I made sure they had other avenues in which to develop their language learning, handwriting guidance if they wanted it, and other ways to exercise their fine motor skills.

 

One of my kids, it turns out, has moderate dysgraphia. There is something about the way his brain processes and integrates visual and physical things that makes it hard for him -- testing has borne this out. He does fine using a laptop; with pen and paper he is slow and awkward still.

 

But my other three kids have no dysgraphia, and have all become excellent at both handwriting and composition, even though they didn't start writing in any appreciable way until a full three years after their schooled counterparts. Within about a month of when they got motivated to start writing, their handwriting had become as neat and efficient as their agemates'.

 

There is no rush. I would tend to think your older ds is the more unusual child in that he apparently had a strong affinity for writing and drawing at a young age.

 

Miranda

post #10 of 15

A few thoughts:

 

1)  My 5yo daughter is a 'precocious' writer.  She spontaneously wrote 'mom' on an envelope for me when she was only 2!  She taught herself printed letters just from seeing them by the time she was 3.  She was reading at a near-first-grade level when she was 4.  She started writing whole sentences and then multi-chapter stories with 'invented spelling' last fall just before she turned 5 (she sits and sounds out every word and writes it out phonetically).  

 

All that being said, we don't do a LOT of writing with her 'schoolwork'!  We are using Writing With Ease so she does that copywork, which is maybe twice a week when we're really on the ball.  We're doing a handwriting program (more on that later) which is really just a few letters at a time, and some colouring.  Even that we don't do every day.  Her math and science stuff, it varies whether she wants to try to write her own answers, or whether she wants to dictate them to me.  I'll go with her flow.  Even being 'precocious' with writing, sometimes what she wants to say is just too big and complex for her to write by herself, so it's perfectly acceptable for her to dictate for me to write.  In fact, that's fantastic, because then I'm *modelling* writing for her, and she can see how HER words translate onto paper, an important step along the way to her actually putting those words on paper herself. 

 

The point I'm trying to make here is -- she's not a 'delayed' writer by any means, she's ahead of the curve, and at age 5 I still do NOT put a lot of emphasis on her learning proper writing any time soon!  We work on it when she's interested in working on it, and that's it.  And I do NOT expect her to produce written answers for her other work, either.  Sometimes she wants to, but I don't *expect* it.  It's a *bonus* when she wants to, and not a foundational expectation.

 

2)  My 13yo son is a 'delayed' writer.  Night and day between them!  And I can tell you, when he was younger I tried every trick in the book.  I cajoled, I pressured, I demanded.  I used different methods, different workbooks, made games out of it.  Even when he would actually DO it, he would HATE it.  

 

As it turns out, he did and does have sensory issues, in fact he has Asperger's (which we didn't know at the time).  That doesn't mean yours does -- but it's certainly a possibility.  It's also just plain normal for 5yo's, especially boys, to not be ready to write yet -- and especially if it's something they've been pressured about already.

 

Eventually I gave up on the pressure tactics.  And hindsight being 20/20, I would of course do it completely differently if I could go back and do it again.  "If I knew then what I know now" and all that.

 

His writing was 'behind' grade level for years.  In handwriting quality... sloppy, random capitals (though he understood the rules properly), bizarre spellings, letter sizing and spacing issues.  In text quality... short, choppy fragments of sentences, although he could speak answers perfectly well.  

 

I had a 'eureka' moment one day, when I realized that the skill of writing was SEPARATE from the knowledge in other subject areas.  Maybe his history curriculum is asking to write a brief essay or a paragraph on a certain topic, and he's not able to do it.  But that doesn't mean he didn't understand the history lesson.  It means he can't write about it.  That's a problem, but not a problem related at all to his HISTORY learning.  So I realized that I could IGNORE the writing components of curricula when there was conflict and find other alternative ways to express things.  In his case, it was drawing -- he could draw fantastic representations of the stories he'd learned, which beautifully showed that he had absorbed and understood the material.  If yours doesn't like to draw,, there are other options, like narrating into a recorder, or typing, or acting out a play -- or making Lego models!

 

We took up writing as a wholly separate study area, when he was READY for it.  We did a different handwriting course when he was 10, and his penmanship improved enough to be (usually) legible.  There were no fights this time, he was mostly happy to do it.  And this past summer, having turned 13, he's starting to mature a bit... he's realizing he needs to be able to write essays pretty soon, we're getting into material where he can no longer just draw his responses all the time.  We chose the IEW SWI-B course and he loved that.  Now we're working through "Writing With Skill" and he's doing really, really well with it.  I think I can honestly say that while his composition skill is not yet "on grade level", it is catching up VERY fast and by the time he's "in grade 9" I think he will be perfectly in line with his peers.

 

The secret is -- we waited until he wanted to do it.  And now he's doing fine!

 

3) If and when your son is ready to properly tackle writing, might I suggest you go for cursive right away instead of print?  That's what we're doing with my daughter.  Of course she went and taught herself print letters before we'd ever started learning cursive, the little stinker...  But interestingly, when she prints, she reverses "S" and "C" constantly, she does "r" and "i" as lower case and just about every other letter upper case, and the spacing and sizing is pretty random -- typical for a 5yo.  But when she writes in cursive, her formation is correct and consistent!

 

The main thing about cursive, IMO, is that it is continuous.  In typical ball and stick printing, a child has to lift his pencil sometimes several times per letter, each time having to find the right place to put it down again.  This is very fine coordination for a young child, a real challenge.  With cursive, once the pencil is down, it stays down.  The letter is uninterrupted and so the formation is more consistent.  Word spacing is also automatic!  Letters within a word are connected, between words are not.  And reversals are virtually unknown.  In print, b and d are identical.  If a picture of a person's face is looking left, or looking right, it's still the same person.  To a young child just learning letters, that's exactly the same as b and d.  And in printing, both are taught as 'a ball and a stick' and the trick is remembering which faces which way.  With cursive, though, the letters are formed COMPLETELY differently!

 

We've been using the A Beka K4 cursive books... we're almost finished and will start K5 soon.  They're very gently and age appropriate, with lots of tracing and gradually doing more and more independent letters and short words.  She really loves it.

 

Historically, kids always learned cursive first.  The 'tradition' of printing first only came about in the latter half of the 20th century with the ubiquity of the new "Dick and Jane" readers... it was felt that having the children write the same letter style they were reading would accelerate reading.  It was all about helping with READING and nothing to do with WRITING.  (And no, I don't believe it helped anything with the reading, either!)  Many countries around the world still teach cursive first in kindergarten.

 

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.  Oh wait, we're giving up the penny so I have to round... nearest nickel would be 0 cents!  Hey I'm giving a freebie.  :)


Edited by tankgirl73 - 3/31/12 at 3:06pm
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

A few thoughts:

 

1)  My 5yo daughter is a 'precocious' writer.  She spontaneously wrote 'mom' on an envelope for me when she was only 2!  She taught herself printed letters just from seeing them by the time she was 3.  She was reading at a near-first-grade level when she was 4.  She started writing whole sentences and then multi-chapter stories with 'invented spelling' last fall just before she turned 5 (she sits and sounds out every word and writes it out phonetically).  

 

All that being said, we don't do a LOT of writing with her 'schoolwork'!  We are using Writing With Ease so she does that copywork, which is maybe twice a week when we're really on the ball.  We're doing a handwriting program (more on that later) which is really just a few letters at a time, and some colouring.  Even that we don't do every day.  Her math and science stuff, it varies whether she wants to try to write her own answers, or whether she wants to dictate them to me.  I'll go with her flow.  Even being 'precocious' with writing, sometimes what she wants to say is just too big and complex for her to write by herself, so it's perfectly acceptable for her to dictate for me to write.  In fact, that's fantastic, because then I'm *modelling* writing for her, and she can see how HER words translate onto paper, an important step along the way to her actually putting those words on paper herself. 

 

The point I'm trying to make here is -- she's not a 'delayed' writer by any means, she's ahead of the curve, and at age 5 I still do NOT put a lot of emphasis on her learning proper writing any time soon!  We work on it when she's interested in working on it, and that's it.  And I do NOT expect her to produce written answers for her other work, either.  Sometimes she wants to, but I don't *expect* it.  It's a *bonus* when she wants to, and not a foundational expectation.

 

2)  My 13yo son is a 'delayed' writer.  Night and day between them!  And I can tell you, when he was younger I tried every trick in the book.  I cajoled, I pressured, I demanded.  I used different methods, different workbooks, made games out of it.  Even when he would actually DO it, he would HATE it.  

 

As it turns out, he did and does have sensory issues, in fact he has Asperger's (which we didn't know at the time).  That doesn't mean yours does -- but it's certainly a possibility.  It's also just plain normal for 5yo's, especially boys, to not be ready to write yet -- and especially if it's something they've been pressured about already.

 

Eventually I gave up on the pressure tactics.  And hindsight being 20/20, I would of course do it completely differently if I could go back and do it again.  "If I knew then what I know now" and all that.

 

His writing was 'behind' grade level for years.  In handwriting quality... sloppy, random capitals (though he understood the rules properly), bizarre spellings, letter sizing and spacing issues.  In text quality... short, choppy fragments of sentences, although he could speak answers perfectly well.  

 

I had a 'eureka' moment one day, when I realized that the skill of writing was SEPARATE from the knowledge in other subject areas.  Maybe his history curriculum is asking to write a brief essay or a paragraph on a certain topic, and he's not able to do it.  But that doesn't mean he didn't understand the history lesson.  It means he can't write about it.  That's a problem, but not a problem related at all to his HISTORY learning.  So I realized that I could IGNORE the writing components of curricula when there was conflict and find other alternative ways to express things.  In his case, it was drawing -- he could draw fantastic representations of the stories he'd learned, which beautifully showed that he had absorbed and understood the material.  If yours doesn't like to draw,, there are other options, like narrating into a recorder, or typing, or acting out a play -- or making Lego models!

 

We took up writing as a wholly separate study area, when he was READY for it.  We did a different handwriting course when he was 10, and his penmanship improved enough to be (usually) legible.  There were no fights this time, he was mostly happy to do it.  And this past summer, having turned 13, he's starting to mature a bit... he's realizing he needs to be able to write essays pretty soon, we're getting into material where he can no longer just draw his responses all the time.  We chose the IEW SWI-B course and he loved that.  Now we're working through "Writing With Skill" and he's doing really, really well with it.  I think I can honestly say that while his composition skill is not yet "on grade level", it is catching up VERY fast and by the time he's "in grade 9" I think he will be perfectly in line with his peers.

 

The secret is -- we waited until he wanted to do it.  And now he's doing fine!

 

3) If and when your son is ready to properly tackle writing, might I suggest you go for cursive right away instead of print?  That's what we're doing with my daughter.  Of course she went and taught herself print letters before we'd ever started learning cursive, the little stinker...  But interestingly, when she prints, she reverses "S" and "C" constantly, she does "r" and "i" as lower case and just about every other letter upper case, and the spacing and sizing is pretty random -- typical for a 5yo.  But when she writes in cursive, her formation is correct and consistent!

 

The main thing about cursive, IMO, is that it is continuous.  In typical ball and stick printing, a child has to lift his pencil sometimes several times per letter, each time having to find the right place to put it down again.  This is very fine coordination for a young child, a real challenge.  With cursive, once the pencil is down, it stays down.  The letter is uninterrupted and so the formation is more consistent.  Word spacing is also automatic!  Letters within a word are connected, between words are not.  And reversals are virtually unknown.  In print, b and d are identical.  If a picture of a person's face is looking left, or looking right, it's still the same person.  To a young child just learning letters, that's exactly the same as b and d.  And in printing, both are taught as 'a ball and a stick' and the trick is remembering which faces which way.  With cursive, though, the letters are formed COMPLETELY differently!

 

We've been using the A Beka K4 cursive books... we're almost finished and will start K5 soon.  They're very gently and age appropriate, with lots of tracing and gradually doing more and more independent letters and short words.  She really loves it.

 

Historically, kids always learned cursive first.  The 'tradition' of printing first only came about in the latter half of the 20th century with the ubiquity of the new "Dick and Jane" readers... it was felt that having the children write the same letter style they were reading would accelerate reading.  It was all about helping with READING and nothing to do with WRITING.  (And no, I don't believe it helped anything with the reading, either!)  Many countries around the world still teach cursive first in kindergarten.

 

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.  Oh wait, we're giving up the penny so I have to round... nearest nickel would be 0 cents!  Hey I'm giving a freebie.  :)


thank you, thank you, thank you!

Each of your points is so enlightening!  Both of my boys are precocious in different areas, and I worry about my younger ds being held back by his lack of interest in writing or drawing.  I have been torn between different curricula this past week strictly because of the writing element.  I now see that I can teach to my sons' intellect without being hindered by the writing "situation." 

 

I have to admit that I'm terrified by teaching cursive, but thanks for the lead on the curriculum, I will check it out!

 

post #12 of 15
I've appreciated this thread! My dd is close to 5, and has always seemed to lag a bit fine-motor-wise. But I've seem consistent development, so I haven't worried too much. I tried to do very short HWT lessons with her, but could tell even that felt forced. So I backed off... This morning with a birthday party ahead, DD spontaneously got to work on a card, copying her name, HAPPY from a friend's holiday greeting we had hanging on the wall, and JONES from the title of the book we planned to gift. I worry a little at times, but little shows of internal motivation like that are so reassuring!
post #13 of 15
My 6 yo hares writing and coloring as well...so we've backed way off. He has plenty of time to get it

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk
post #14 of 15

It's quite common for a child this age - especially boys - to not be ready to write. It's awfully young. There's really no pressing reason for him to write at this time - or anytime soon, though.

 

I remember dropping my son off at a cub scout meeting when he was about 9, and there was going to be a project that day involving writing. I was feeling embarrassed about his writing skills, but when I dropped in to pick him up at the end, the other moms laughed and showed me their own sons' writing - no better than his, and they all attended school, so they had to write a lot.

 

The fact that one child in a family writes especially early doesn't mean another has a problem of some kind if he doesn't - siblings can be very different from one another in many ways. I think it would be helpful to note the things he does really well and not be concerned about writing at such a very young age.

 

There have been generations of successful people who were never introduced to writing at all until they were 6 and in 1st grade, and some private schools still operate that way.   - Lillian

post #15 of 15

I have also appreciated this post. Although my ds is younger, he is very precocious and at a 1st or 2nd grade level in everything except language. He has no interest in reading or writing. I figure he's a lot like me in that. I really didn't like reading until 6th grade and by the end o the year was reading on a college level.

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