Help with Sons Terrible Writting

Updated on April 02, 2010
C.S. asks from San Francisco, CA
30 answers

I have an 10 year old son, he tends to write really fast so his writing looks really bad and messy it seems lik he is very careless about his writing, his teacher is not longer interested in reading his work and she just check marked it, i tryed everything even i erase his work for him to do it over. He is going to middle school this fall and i know is going to be very difficult for him. please give any tips to help him.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions, I am checking on some of them already. I forgot to mention that my son is a lefty and his bad handwriting just started getting bad in the second quarter of 5th grade, and his teacher write the word MESSY in all his work. He is already a great reader and is on the top of his class, He is very good in all other areas, he types all his assignments when they need to be typed but in class he can not do that, he has to handwrite everything and that is when his problem starts.
thanks

Featured Answers

V.C.

answers from Dallas on

You might try to find one of the pens that vibrate. Sometimes it is a sensory integration issue and that might help. You might be able to get some other ideas from an occupational therapist.
Victoria

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Consider getting an occupational therapy evaluation to see if he has a muscular or coordination problem that can be remedied with therapy. Also, he should be strengthening his key boarding skills; if he has a problem that is not easily remedied, he can get an accommodation through a 504 plan that he can type everything, and even have a keyboard to use in class.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't really have any suggestions other than teaching him to use a keyboard so he can type. I will say this, however. The smartest people in the world have the worst handwriting in the world. It's because they're brain is working so much faster than they can write. So, I wouldn't worry too much about it and tell the teacher to do her job and read his work whether she wants to or not!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.H.

answers from Sacramento on

We took my son the The Neuro-Linguistic Learning Center In EDH. They taught him a new way to plan his writing so he could take more care when he wrote.My son was rushing to write so he wouldn't forget what was in his head. I know they also help kids with dysgraphia. Their web site is www.swish4fish.com.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hello,

I am a pediatric occupational therapist, or OT. We work with children all the time who have handwriting problems. Sometimes it just takes a trained professional to whip that writing into shape especially if there are any underlying strength or coordination issues contributing to the problem. Does your son struggle in any other areas? If you would like to talk more about what an OT could do for your son please feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com. I live in TX or I'd offer to assess him myself :) But I would be happy to at least answer any questions you may have.

Good luck,

Rebecca
Occupational Therapist, owner at Dynamic Therapy
www.dynamictherapy.net
Mommy of almost-2-year-old Benjamin

2 moms found this helpful

L.B.

answers from New York on

look up dysgraphia on the internet, it is actually a learning disability that is expressed as sloppy hand writing, it has nothing to do with intelligence. My son has this and school is mandated by law to make accommodations for him, he has received typing lessons and uses a wordprocessor and lap top for his written work. The school and teacher will not tell you this.

Dysgraphia has very specific characteristics so you could look it up on the internet and see if this might be what your son's problems are related to. Should this be something you feel you want to pursue, if you would like more information, I would be happy to share my son's experience with you. My son is 11 and will start junior high next fall.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

V.R.

answers from Redding on

Look into the "Handwriting Without Tears" program. Its great and the kids love it.

1 mom found this helpful

S.R.

answers from Chicago on

School has to meet his needs. My son types his work. He has weak muscles and writes terrible. He is in 6th grade.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.N.

answers from Chicago on

My son has the same issue. Try to read his writing. forget it. He does not have any strength issues or other problems in school with other subjects. he jsut wants to get it over with. However, he has kind of pulled himself away form interacting in class and at home so I am getting him counseling just to make sure there are no unlying issues to worry about like depression. One of the things things we are going to do is buy one of those handwriting tablets and have him work on his letters with correct form and size. He is not happy about it because he says that is for 1st graders but will try it.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Greetings C.,
We have made a habit of having terrible penmenship it seem with our boys. One has had to get past it as he writes reports each day for work. We have learned a simple trick from a special education therepist. Give your son a 6 inch ruler. Let him write his words down on that small area a bit at a time. This will help to slow down his brain,as his hands can't keep up with it. It will also hold the words in place for a child with dyslexia. This really has made a differance for our son. Beawarethat most students will e-mail homework to teachers in Jr. High and High School and in college. Our youngest son, had 3 teachers that kept track of all student work this way- the down side is that they type everything and seldom use penmenship. I hope that you have the same success that we have seen with it. Good Luck
I just saw your post== I am a left handed person. I was raised in the era of slapping hands for useing the left hand and would most likely hit the fan if anyone tried it with my child. My father, spent hours with me and taught me to write like a right handed person with my left hand. I am told that I have lovely penmenship. So consider giving that a try. When a left handed person does things for example dumping a pot of hot water from a pan- the natural way is towards themself, a right handed person does it away from them. So just the everyday actions one does will actually help in retraining how a child does things. Again, Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

P.M.

answers from Portland on

I encourage you to look up Dysgraphia, which is a learning disability, on the chance that your son is not just being careless about his writing. He could have this problems, which has nothing to do with how smart he is. Writing problems could eventually cause him to feel unworthy of respect, however. If this is his problem, drilling or punishment will not help.

Here's one of many websites on the subject: http://www.dyslexia-ca.org/dysgraphiadefinition.html

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Wow, I would suggest back to basics writing practice to help him improve hand writing. Have to motivate him to take time to form each letter correctly, have to motivate him to do his best each time he writes.

I would like to know what else have you tried so far?

I am in Fremont, have a business that providing educational services to children. Call me and we can discuss more @ ###-###-####

N.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.K.

answers from Mansfield on

my son is 11 and also has terrible hand writting. His 4th grade teacher used to make him re-write every assignment sometimes many times over- then realized that it always looked the same.
He even realizes his hand writting is bad because his little sister is in 1st grade and left handed (so she isn's supposed to write perfectly) has neater hand writting then he does. And cursive- you can forget it! His teacher no longer has him write in cursive when the rest of the class is required to do spelling tests, etc in cursive. If you find out what helps- let me know. Extra handwritting practice, etc never worked for me!
All his reports and projects, etc are typed. So if you can do that I would but understand you can't have him type out every gramma worksheet or vocab paper.
Sorry I know this doesn't help :)

1 mom found this helpful

P.W.

answers from Dallas on

Time for computer class! I still cannot read my husbands handwriting and he is doing just fine. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to address it, but with the world of computers...........I'd say direct him to a computer and teach him to type.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Is he having spelling and/or punctuation issues and not writing issues? The writing may be a way to disguise these issues. When he types his work he can use spell-check and grammar check. As far as the teacher is concerned her job is to read and correct your son’s papers not to fail your child. I do understand that she may be overworked but part of teaching is tackling the ruff stuff and help the kids who need the help the most. I would set up a conference with the teacher so the two of you can work together to find a solution to this problem. If it turns out to be an academic issue there should be intervention programs in the school that can help you, the teacher and your son get the help that is needed to insure his success in school. To find out about these programs talk to the principal and the education specialist at your child’s school.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

F.R.

answers from San Francisco on

When my son was in the 3rd & 4th grades he had the same issue. His teachers and I took a proactive approach, using sincere compliments, and patience. We stood united that we all knew he did his work & was very intelligent. He just needed to slow down, and take the time and pride to write "nicely" or legibly so that we could all read his answers, and understand him. We also worked to find out what his underlying issue really was. It was his fear of not completeling things on time, & his boredom with knowing the work, & having to take the time to write it out.
After about 6 months of working with him, & when his teachers held him accountable for his writing, there was success! He understands how important he is, and how important his penmanship is as a vital communication tool. He just started middle school this year, & his penmanship is neat, & most importantly legible. I do continue to look over his work, & help him see that when he rushes, his writing goes down the tubes. Now that he's more aware of this, he knows that he needs to slow down, and take time to write clearly. Hope this helps....F. R

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.B.

answers from Redding on

My daughter is a lefty too.
She does everything with her right hand except for write.
I am exactly the opposite.
My family is pretty evenly divided between righties and lefties.
Once your son realizes that slowing down a bit will help, it will get better. I would be temped to say that typically men/boys don't have the best writing, but I'd love to share some of the handwritten letters my father wrote. He had such beautiful writing.
My daughter's writing is so beautiful too. She gets compliments on it all the time.
At 10, it's kind of hard for a boy to think of his handwriting as an expression of himself, but it is and if no one can read it....he might have something really profound to say that will be lost.
In many ways, penmanship is becoming a lost art and you just need to stick with him about it.
When I was a kid (back in the dinosaur age), no one had computers and we were lucky if our parents had an old manual typewriter to plunk on. Trust me, just writing things out was easier!
Your son is obviously very intelligent so he just needs to practice writing in such a way that is legible for others to read.
I always told my kids..."If I can't read it, you're not turning it in until you fix it."
If he's doing messy work in class, and that's the worst of his problems, it's a simple thing....he just needs to take time to put in a little more effort so the teacher can read it. It's way easier to take a few extra minutes the first time around than to have to do it all over again.

I think he'll be okay if you just work with him and he might surprise you, (and himself) with how good his penmanship can be.

All the best....

1 mom found this helpful

C.S.

answers from Charlotte on

My son writes messy too. I've started making him write daily. When he starts getting sloppy and rushing, I throw it away and make him start over. At first I was throwing it away 4 or 5 times a night until he got it write. That was several months ago, and I haven't thrown one away in a while

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.H.

answers from Chico on

ahh, yes. well, I had TERRIBLE handwriting as a child, and i tried EVERYTHING. my parents made me sit and fill pages with neatly written rows of letters, i practiced writing to friends, i was shamed and punished. As a solid A-B student, i received my only report card D (ever-to this day and have just about completed my Masters Degree) in 3rd grade handwriting. My two recommendations, a drafting/writing class, or calligraphy class, which will connect writing to drawing, and incorporate more parts of the brain into the writing process. also, what i do as an adult that has never overcome her messy handwriting is print. I print every written communication with all capitol letters. it is now my 'style' to print in all caps all the time. This is the only way it is legible. i don't know what causes my messy writing. if i could overcome it with will, it would be done by now. also, Jr. High is a great time to start typing reports. most teachers will accept and appreciate typed or word processed material. Seriously, he is not willfully messy, so don't make him feel dejected about it. Experiment with the all caps print. it is different, but it makes a difference in legibility. Maybe he'll grow up to be a doctor- ha-ha.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't know if this will be helpful - I'm not a Mom yet, but I was a kid with TERRIBLE handwriting. My teachers complained, neither of my parents could read my writing, and on top of that my Dad has BEAUTIFUL penmanship, as he had a brain injury in a car accident and had to re-learn to write in his 30's. One of the techniques he used to re-learn, he used with me to help me simply write better...and it was literally a back to basics. I had to practice every week night (weekends off, just like school) and I had to write 5 lines of words, letters, sentences. So my Mom would use one of those books that showed to to construct letters, or my Dad would write something himself, and I would have to copy it (not trace it) for 5 lines. I could write as slow or fast as I wanted, so it could take me 5 minutes or 60 minutes, but it had to LOOK the same. I started with the letters or letter combos that were known problems and looked the worst (M vs. N, J's, ER's, etc...) and other stuff started to naturally fall into place. I'm sure there were times I didn't want to do it, but I don't remember hating. I actually have fond memories of me and Dad practicing my writing at the coffee table, and having a sense of pride when I compared work from my teachers that said "MESSY" at the top to what I had completed - I could see the progress, which I think is often lost with kids; I could see the difference and the progess and how my hard work paid off. Anyway, I'm 30 now and to this day I get compliments on my penmanship, and still take pride in having really nice writing.

Hope that helps. Good luck to you and your young one!

1 mom found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

He may have a future as a doctor! As the grades get higher, they allow more assignments to be typed up on the computer. As for hand writing, practice make perfect. My son's writing is very good - at times better than mine. When he was in 1st and 2nd grade, they had every child write (at first printing, then in cursive) in a journal every day. It would also include hand drawn pictures. Find a way for him to write a bit every day. It will improve over time.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.D.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi, I didn't read everything either but I was wondering if he likes to work with clay? My daughter started making things out of clay a couple of months ago, she just loves working with it and since I homeschool and follow her interests I let her make things out of clay for weeks at a time. When I asked her to do some writing for me I was amazed at how her writing had improved without practice. Then it came back to me what her first grade teacher had told me about fine motor skills.... that fine motor skills improve penmanship so cutting or coloring or even drawing, modeling etc... I think it's terrible that the teacher would write messy, it's just not a good way to help someone. But with the fine motor skills approach he wouldn't even have to think about his writing. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.F.

answers from San Francisco on

You might consider a professional evaluation by the school's Occupational Therapist. He may have disgraphia or this may just be a challenging skill for him. Consider talking to teachers about allowing all assignments and reports to be typed. There is also some good software called Dragon Naturally speaking where children speak into a computer and have the computer write what they say, if he has difficulty typing. Hopefully his self-esteem can be maintained and he can meet with success in different ways.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.G.

answers from Stockton on

I am a teacher and I also had a son that had terrible writing. I tried everything and even his 7th grade teacher gave him work to do over the summer. He just continued writing the way he wrote. Some teachers are OK with it and some are not. I accept most student's work unless it is just totally unreadable.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I suggest you focus on finding books your son loves and get him addicted to reading. I know that sounds illogical, but if he reads more he will become a much better writer.

My daughter was at the absolute bottom of her class, and then she got addicted to reading and eventually her writing transformed. Good readers become good writers. Gaby Chapman writes about it in her new book here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/28819510/Let-Them-Have-Books-Ho...

Here are some books your son might enjoy:
The Lightening Thief series (great read it before you see it incentive)
Peter and the Star Catchers series
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (great read it before you see it incentive)
Artemis Fowl series
Hunger Games series
Wolf Brother series
Anything by Will Hobbs
Maximum Ride

These are all contemporary popular books that kids are loving these days. You may be tempted to push some books on him that are classics that you loved. Don't do it. Let him choose his books, and eventually he will get into reading enough to come around to more classic literature.

You can find these books at the local library or at bookpig.com which is a new service that is a netflix for kids books.

I would not worry about the handwriting too much, he will start typing soon and that will not be as important.

Thanks, J.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.K.

answers from Phoenix on

I homeschool and have the same issue. I have my children practice their handwriting separately and show them exactly what I expect their handwriting should look like. It really helps. Good luck!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.O.

answers from Chicago on

I can only answer as the mother of a 1st grader and pre-K student. My first grader is doing the same thing, she just scribbles her name on her paper. We now sit down and do homework with her, constantly reminding her to "do her best work". If her printing is not acceptable to us, we make her erase it and redo it. Also, we have begun using "writing" as a punishment. Partially to help her "get it" that we are serious about her doing her best work all the time. So for doing something wrong, she gets one warning, then she gets a writing assignment like writing, "I will not lie anymore" 5 times on lined paper. The next time she does, it's 10 times. Basically she HATES writing, so it's teaching her to 'do her best' all the time or she gets a home writing assignment. And in this too, if it's not her best work, she has to redo any ones where she didn't use proper letter form. (We bought the lined paper that has the dotted line through the middle at Office Max.)

I also think the best thing you can do is explain to your son that what he hands in is a reflection of HIM. He needs to take pride in his work - whatever he does.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.R.

answers from Sacramento on

I'm not checking out other peoples answers so don't know if this has been suggested. I would have him type whatever assignments he can. Then the assignments that must be handwritten won't be so much stress on him and perhaps he'll do a better job of writing on those.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Get the Mavis Beacon (learn how to type) software, buy it or borrow from the library so that by the time schhool rolls around he will be able to type fast enough to do his homework and projects on. My sister-in-law has done this for her son.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.G.

answers from Sacramento on

It seems I have come upon this late, however will interject my 2 cents. I have a ss (stepson) that is 16. I have been in his life for 14.5 yrs and have seen his terrible writing get worse. The crazy part is that when I asked about it at school they said that they do not teach this anymore (I asked in the 4th or 5th grade) as most of the kids and classes are teaching typing. My thought is what about when he gets into college or a job... He isn't going to type his friend, professor or boss a note; he will need to write it. I truly believe they need to continue teaching writing skills in schools. But I did love the idea about doing it at home in a separate book.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions