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Motivating to write

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I pulled my son out of public school after the first month of this year (1st grade year).

Well he had writing issues.

1. letter formation taking \3-4 strokes to make t, k, x, et Not getting b,p,q,d right

2. How he held the pencil made it diffucult

3. How he possition the paper.

Well we corrected these problems. Got him pencil grips, got him colored lined paper, worked on letter development.

He got pretty good. Can write nicely know if I prod him. I am flexiable to a point. He can type out "spelling" words (these are words he has had trouble reading or new words we work on developing) But if I ask him to write anything he refuses.

How can I motivate him? He can do it, he just does not want to. He wants to be lazy.

I know writing has not come easy and we have had to work on alot of fine motor skills but the time has come to put my foot down. He told my mil he could not write his name (because he did not want to) on his candy bag. It was not until my dh picked him up and she question dh did son do it. My dh gave son a dirty look and a pencil. All my mil could say is what lovely writing and it is better than my same aged nephew.

Now my 3 yr old happily wrote her name, it is only 2 letters so it is easy.
post #2 of 18
I'd be enclined to leave it for a year or 3! Any reason why this must be done by 1st grade?

You need for him to be self-motivated. You can not motivate him. That's like pushing with string!

I promise you, when he finds a need to do it, he will.

post #3 of 18
I agree with Alexander. You can possibly force him to write, but you cannot force him to be motivated to write.

I would provide lots of 'real' opportunities for writing. Write lists, write plans of what he wants to do, write letters to friends, recipes, etc etc. If he has good ideas but the physical aspect of writing puts him off, scribe for him. Let him read back what you have written. Play pretend shop or post office, and encourage him to write through imaginative play. Write notes for Daddy or Grandma to remind them of upcoming treats. Write down jokes and read them to one another.

Provide lots of different and interesting tools for writing - markers, whiteboards, chalks, crayons, paints etc. Let him type sometimes if the phsyical effort of writing is too much for him. I'd also separate out 'handwriting' - where you expect it to be neat - from writing - where he can get his ideas down quickly and messily if he likes. A good way to do this is to create fun rules, eg 'Green is for go!' meaning if you write on the green paper or in the green book, handwriting doesnt matter, but 'best' writing is on white/blue/yellow paper. Let him discover that there are different protocols for different situations - after all, adults rarely expect their shopping list to be as neatly written as a letter accompanying a job application or a letter to the village priest!

When the motivation to write is intrinsic, he will make meaningful progress. I'd find lots of ways to make it meaningful for him to need to write. Don't just wait for motivation to come, but be creative in finding ways to foster motivation.

Hope this helps!
post #4 of 18

Quite right. You made me realize something. We encourage children to read by reading to them. But few people encourage their children by writing to them, or writing something that the kids want written.

Why are we so lazy?

post #5 of 18
I don't have the time I need to post everything I want to say about this, but... I will say this.

It is common for first grade aged children to have difficulties with handwriting because it is a developmental fine motor skill. It is even more common for boys (at this age) to have this happen (the 3 strokes and confusing b,d, p, q (all those letters sure look a lot alike).


Please don't confuse handwriting with writing. They are not the same thing! If he is feeling pressured to get it "right", then of course he won't want to even try. Maybe you can try focusing less on how well things look (spelling and handwriting wise) and focus more on what he is "saying" in the piece.

Help him to recognize words that he might want to use in his own writing when you are reading to him.
Help him to find his own "voice" in writing.
Make writing fun, not painful. Conventions can come later.

Some ideas for fine motor development:
-clay (helps strengthen the muscles in the hands) - not playdough, but real clay
-sewing or sewing cards
-pegboards and other "toys" that require putting a small object in a "hole"

What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher is a great beginning point for anyone trying to learn how to teach writing.
post #6 of 18
Originally posted by zealsmom

Some ideas for fine motor development:
-clay (helps strengthen the muscles in the hands) - not playdough, but real clay
-sewing or sewing cards
-pegboards and other "toys" that require putting a small object in a "hole"

So long as the little man is not "made" to do this.

Allowing everything to be optional and fun is the best way to keep his mind open.

post #7 of 18
My cousin who is in the 2nd grade and lives 1200 miles away from us is "penpals" with ds. They both enjoy the mail!!
post #8 of 18
"Please don't confuse handwriting with writing. "
Excellent point, Zealsmom, THANK YOU!

The best way to kill the desire to write is to insist that the child put pen to paper before he is physically ready. Lots of kids come up with very imaginative, complex and wonderful stories waaaay before they have the skills to write them down.

If your child WANTS to tell stories or compose letters, let him dictate them to you. You could write them or type them for him--it is still HIS work. If he likes to draw, he could make illustrations and you could write the captions that he dictates to you. If he likes to work on the computer, a program like "Storybook Weaver Deluxe" is WONDERFUL. It's full of clip art and backgrounds and other art options and is set up as a template with title page, place for the author's name, etc. The child's book can be printed out and bound together.

If he is not interested in any of this, then definately give him time--he's so young yet--when he feels a need to write, and wants to, you won't be able to stop him.
post #9 of 18
I'm glad to hear you took DS out of school, where I feel way too much pressure is put on children to perform at or above a certain level. I agree with Alexander and Britishmum - try to find out how to make writing fun and exciting so that he will WANT to do it.

Maybe you could pack a brown bag lunch for Dad, ask DS to write his name on the bag and compose a secret message to put inside. Perhaps you could let him write a list for you of what he would like to do for the day and then let him cross out the items as he completes them.

I also like the idea of dictation. He WILL learn just as well if you write for him some of the time. Remember how children are the ultimate imitators. It wouldn't concern me that he isn't showing an interest in writing just yet. Maybe focus on what does interest him, such as science, nature, arts & crafts, math, etc. Let him lead and follow him with the faith that he WILL eventually, with your help and guidance, learn everything he needs in life!

Best of luck to you,
post #10 of 18
Some fabulous ideas and wise advice here!

You may want to look on the Early Childhood Education section for the thread 'Early Reading' where there is then some discussion about early writing. I tried there to describe the natural development of writing for young children - too long to repeat here. It's in the last part of the thread at the moment.

Zealsomom made a great point also about developing the fine motor skills through other activities. This is so important yet most people don't view it as worthwhile as there isn't a neatly written end product.
post #11 of 18
I agree. I know from a waldorfian perspective knitting and sewing are excellent ways to work the small muscles of the hands and fingers and get them ready for writing.

Also, I totally agree with zealsmom about not confusing handwriting and writing. My dd has been very interested in writing as a form of communication since she was about 3. However, her letters often were made from many more strokes than what is normally used. The "A" in her name looked more like an "H" with a top and her "R" was more like an "O" with two legs. I just let it go. As she practiced more and more she realized that it was quicker to use less strokes and learned to write those letters that same way we would normally "teach" them to be written, only I never actually sat down and showed her the "right" way to make them. Some of her letters still have extra strokes, especially the lower case ones. I've learned from the past and don't worry about it. Correcting her would only have diminished her love for writing. I think children will learn to write the "correct" way with practice. Besides, handwriting is a very personal thing as we get older and there is no reason it can't be when we are young as well.
post #12 of 18
On developing motor skills:

Particularly with boys...Lego. The fine movement required to fit the pieces together, hand / eye co-ordination. It's all there, and it is something that the boys themselves want to do. They will not see it as "training".

Model railways too, fitting those fine track links together, and getting the rolling stock on the track.

Painting the rolling stock with AAA brushes, something that dads just love to get involved with.

Hope this helps

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I think I was unclear. HE can write now. But won't. Not even on a bag of candy that is his.

Today we ran into the problem again. He was at a friends birthday party. She passed out a few pencils/pens for the kids to just write their name on there party favor bags. He did not. When it was time to go he told her just grab the bag with no name. He is not dumb he just figured that since everyone else wrote their name why should he? LOL

Boy did his bubble got burst when he found out that the bags with no names were for the toddlers(brothers and sisters). And since he was not a toddler he did not get a bag.

I hope that helps. LOL I backed my friend up.
post #14 of 18
The perfect learning experience!

This is precisly the kind of thing that kids must go through in order to have the self motivation to do anything. And it may save you a lot of grief too.

At the end of the day, kids learn how to get by, by figuring out what is really necessary.

post #15 of 18
It sounds to me as if writing has become a major 'issue' for your son, if he won't write his name on a bag with the other children.

Although I can see that he created a situation with a natural consequence, I think I"d take a different approach and ignore the behaviour, and completely play it down. I think I'd have just written his name, whilst chatting to another adult about something else, so that it wasn't an issue.

If he senses that writing is a big deal to you, he is likely to want to do it less. If it is inconsequential, he will see the need to write and not get attention for either doing it or not. My instinct is that his 'issue' is with the 'neatness' aspect of writing, in which case I'd also ignore the neatness for a while until he gets writing through self-motivation. While he thinks there is big attention surrounding putting pencil to paper (or bag!) he will probably continue to refuse to do it. He must also have felt the attention, one way or another, from not having the bag at the end of the party, which would have an emotional impact of some sort - either anger, frustration, or pleasure that he'd somehow 'won' the day by being different.

Although he's clearly very smart to know that one person doesn't need to write his name on! Or alternatively, he could have thought, "I'll put my bag in this place here, then I'll know it's mine" or "I'll mark the corner" or "I'll tear the edge", all of whcih would be intelligent solutions. I think I'd have tended to focus on the positive problem solving aspect rather than the fact that he didnt follow the general strategy - although I know what hard work such alternative thinkers can be!

Without knowing the child, it's hard to advise, but I always found that alternative thinking can get you around a problem when meeting it head on can get you further into repeated behaviours. Just an alternative suggestion!
post #16 of 18
Upon first reading the "party bag" story I thought it was sad--my first response was, "Wasn't there any other way to determine which bag was his?" The reason I found it sad is because loosing the bag sounded very much like a punishment for not writing his name. Perhaps I am mistaken and he did not view it that way at all. It's possible that he did not feel that the bag was worth the trouble of having to write his name, I don't know. There is probably a fine line here as far as motivation goes. I really believe that motivation has to come from within--we adults sometimes attempt to motivate children by using punishments and rewards but I think there is a real danger in setting up artificial consequences because they can easily lead to resentment. The "natural" consequence to not writing his name on the bag was that his bag would simply not have his name on it. He might then have had to look inside to determine which one was his, or wait until all the other children had theirs in order to identify his as the last, unclaimed bag. Not allowing him to have the bag was not a "natural" consequence, it was a consequence imposed by the adults.
post #17 of 18
I agree with Joan. This is why I have a real hard time accepting "natural consequences" as a viable solution because it seems that so often the adults are really imposing their own form of punishment and giving it this misnomer. Often we don't truly know what the consequence of making a mistake might be until we are actually faced with the situation.
post #18 of 18
I don't think that it is asking much of a child to write their own name on request when they are 6 or 7. As far as this being some sort of discipline issue, I just don't get it. He was asked (by an adult other than a parent) to do something he can easily do. He didn't bother. He missed out on something.

Oh well. It is a valuable lesson to learn that one ought to write one's name on things.

I just don't feel sorry for this kid. I agree that he is being lazy and I think you handled it well.

The adult in charge had a bunch of kids in her home, which is a lot of work. She had gone to the trouble of making bags for sibs, which was very nice of here. The little boy needs to learn to behave and do simple things he is asked to do when he is a guest.

(I don't think you should force him to do any writing as part of homeschooling though, it isn't worth the power struggle.)
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