Just Write, Dangnamit!


Have you got a non-writer? I have one of those. I have tried to be all zen about it, but it is tricky. It’s tricky due to all the usual societal factors, yes, but in our case it was even more tricky because Primus really wanted to write. It was keeping him from doing other things he wanted to do and it was making life more complicated for me because his required level of input wasn’t matching his output. Finding things that suited his learning style was really difficult.

A lot of soul-searching and observation later it dawned on me that there were two parts to this problem: his and mine.

Mine: a long sad story of handwriting-related hostility. There was a real culture of pulling children down at my school, and handwriting was the school’s weapon of choice for me. I wasn’t predisposed to like handwriting!

Then I studied teaching and I learned all about how children learn to write. It was really interesting and fun to see the stages when I was teaching. First it was random letters, then initial sounds, then initial and sounds, recognisable words, etc. I had preconceived ideas about what I was looking for to tell me a child was learning to write.

Oh yes, this is pretty predictable, isn’t it?

For his part, Primus, and his perfectionistic self wasn’t going to try to write when he knew his letters didn’t look exactly right. Nor was he going to try to write dog with just a ‘d’. So he didn’t try.

So I figured he wasn’t ready and didn’t try to provide opportunities.

So he figured I thought he couldn’t do it and didn’t try.

It was a dangerous situation! Luckily I worked out what was going on and we are slowly working on writing. Because of his personality, we are working on things in a backward way to how I was taught all children learn…

  1. I am giving him explicit instructions. Since he already sees a correct and incorrect way to do a letter, let’s teach him how to do the correct way, rather than allowing him to fail when he can’t reproduce what he sees in his head.
  2. We are also learning explicit spelling. Again, he already knows there is the way to write a word tha he always sees in books, and that is what he wants to reproduce. It would be unfair to withhold information from him and set him up to fail that too.
  3.  We are doing little and often. There is no need for sessions to be long and painful!
  4. We are practising and developing finger strength, fine motor skills and co-ordination in other activities too.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the child in front of you. What the books say – any book – is not going to be nearly as much useful information as you get from observing your child.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jen
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 23:39:59

    Glad you worked this out hon.


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