Second Try...Can Anyone Help Me?? 6 Yr Old Can't Write...
February 11, 2008
Shaw AFB, SC
I need suggestions. My daughter is a very intelligent 6 year old first grader who loves reading but HATES writing. She reads like a champ, but cannot associate what she reads with writing it out. I'm not sure how to help her and I am beginning to feel like a failure to her. My husband and I have tried a reward system, we have tried to get her to practice her letters and words, and she has a quiet place to sit and work, etc.
She has been extremely stubborn since birth (Oh the things I could tell you!) and trying to make her do something is like pulling teeth! I am so worried about her; I just don't know what to do anymore. Please help. I'm curious if other Moms have had similar experiences? or advise? Fun projects? I'll take anything...
I can't tell you all enough how thankful I am for ALL of your advise! Dyslexia runs in my husband's family, so we are going to go ahead and have her tested. His Dad has it and he was telling us about it; he thinks it would be a good idea to test her as well. We never really thought that's what it could be as we really never knew much about it. I will let you all know how it goes. Also, for all of the thoughtful ideas to make writing fun at home...we are running out to get new "supplies" as soon as we can. I think that will help make practicing fun! Again, I am grateful for all of your advise and knowledge. Thank you. Look for a note in the future if you would like to see the results of her testing. I will post them. Sincerely, T.
Oh, boy, does that story sound familiar! My seven year old is in the same boat. Very bright, excellent reader, horrible writer. Aside from lessons at school, I have my daughter write out her own thank you notes for any gifts she may receive. Once she has completed the written part, I'll let her decorate it with stickers or glitter. It's like a reward for a job well done. And anytime I hear: "Mommy, you need to remember..." I tell her to write me a note. The key to improving writing skills is practice, practice, practice. I have also let her write out grocery store lists for me. Just try to find reasons for her to write that are rewarding to her. My daughter still doesn't enjoy writing, but her penmanship has greatly improved as well as her spelling. And when writing helps her accomplish something she wants, there's almost no complaining. Good luck!
T.... Have you considered that she may have a slight learning disability? Intelligent children CAN have learning disabilities in one area or another and with a little help succeed in their area of difficulty. Talk with the school counselor and ask if they will test her. The stubbornness may be a part of it all, as well! A learning disability isn't horrible, just another thing we parents get to address! Best of luck to you!
Does she like art? Maybe you can try an art project that will include letters. Or get some stencils and let her practice with those. Let her color them or put glue-glitter in them to make them attractive. Maybe even make signs to hang up around the house. It may give her a little incentive to learn how to write the words. Make a reward, like taking her to a movie she wants to see, or a favorite place to eat for every 25 words she learns to write. 6 year olds have a short attention span. The rewards have to be a little more frequent than they do when they get older.
Well, just to give you background on my experience... I am a 42 year old mother of 11 and we home school. I know you are concerned but this is what I have learned. They all learn at different paces and at different times and she will learn when she is ready. I used to get all up tight about when my children learned what but not more!! All it did was make things very unpleasant and stressful for all of us and it did not change the ability to learn the skill in question. I currently have a 5 yr old boy who reads his 7 year old sister under the table. I started to get all uptight about it and work so hard with her and well...she just isn't ready so we reinforce what she already knows and slowly plod away at learning to read. I think sometimes it does take a pivotal point where they want to know how to do something for some special reason. Could a relative far away begin writing her and asking her to write back after a letter or two? I know my little girls love receiving letters from their Nanny. Keep trying with whatever you can but please relax and enjoy her great reading skills. It is so okay to be good at one thing and not another. By the time she is a bit older you will never know she had a late start. If it were to keep up it could mean she just needs a different approach because of her learning style and the way her mind works. There are people trained to help with that but so often it truly is nothing other than they have strengths and weakness'. I understand about he stubborn thing too...trust me. I don't have answers for that even with all my experience! If you get any good answers on that let me know!! Hope something in this will be of help to you! I will say a little prayer for your family as well! Sometimes being in the middle of it is just the hardest thing and better times are just around the corner if we can hang in there.
Are you homeschooling her? If you are, I wouldn't sweat it. She will learn at her own pace and it will be easier if she is at home and is able to "write" about what she wants instead of what is forced upon her. You know her best so get her to think about things she really enjoys. I taught first grade, now I'm a stay at home mommy, and with the first graders I would usually write for them at first. Get a journal or just a notebook. First have her tell you stories or retell a story she already knows (this is the best really), but in her own words(sentence by sentence), or of something she really likes to talk about. You write it down and at the end you read it to her. It doesn't have to be long it can be where she would love to visit or her favorite color. Answer things like why, when, where, how, etc. to get her thinking (you don't even have to write it down at first). This age is usually all wrapped up in themselves so get her to talk about (write about) what SHE wants to. I wouldn't force her or she will just end up hating it more. It may take a while, but if she's at home she'll survive. If she's in school you'll get a lot of flack for it but I think all kids are different and learn at their own paces. However, if she's just blatantly disobeying that's a discipline issue. But I would go about it in a creative manner. Tell her she can write little books and share with the family or friends, have a tea party that celebrates the finishing of her book (something very small), or whatever she likes. Or write something together, a play or something. The possibilities are endless really. Just get very involved and try not to make it drudgery. I hope this helps. Best of luck!
My oldest son was like this! He could read anything in sight, but if you asked him to write the word, like cat, he could not do it. There is nothing stubborn about this, it is just that your daughter's brain hasn't switched on that part of her thinking yet. When I figured out that my son wasn't just trying to get out of doing school work (I homeschool my 9 children, two are adults, my youngest is 7), I backed off making him write for a while (about 9 months). What made it obvious to me that he wasn't making it up was when I had him write out a word, one letter at a time, and he could not tell what I was spelling until he finished the word. I just kept him busy doing other school subjects until he was able to do the writing. I exposed him to LOTS of books. I also had him copy poems and short stories to practice making his letters. Do not make this a big issue with your daughter, she will be fine. Not every child develops the same. BTW my son just turned 19 yesterday and is in the middle of writing his own fantasy/adventure book. Also this son had very poor fine motor skills diagnosed from the time he was an infant, and has had to work extra hard to make his handwriting clear & readable.
Hope this helps!
I went through the same thing with my daughter when she was about that age. She loved to read but it was harder for her to write and do Math than anything else. I got with her teacher and we pushed for her to get tested through the system. It took a while but they did test her. She had what you call numerical dyslexia. She reads numbers backwards and some words. She was put in a SST program which helps kids with learning disabilties, all this is extra support for you and your child. They will give her several tests to see what see can understand and what see can't.They will either put her in a cotaught class or take her out of class for about an hour a day. She will not be in a class that is considered special ed or anything like that. She will just be out with kids that are alot like her. By the way my daughter is now in 4th grade and she is doing great. She is able to understand everything that she couldnt before.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
I think there is an underlying issue with your daughter that needs to be discovered. It could be dyslexia. It is the number one reason intelligent children struggle in school. I suggest you start by going to www.brightsolutions.us. My nine year old is very intelligent and gets good grades but really suffers through school work. It turns out he is dyslexic, although the school won't acknowledge this. Dyslexia research has come so far, but unfortunately it is very misunderstood still in society and in schools. I am so relieved to know what my son's issues are now. (We also just found out...also through my own research...that my husband is dyslexic. He would have been much happier if he'd known that as a child). The school could also have an occupational therapist test your daughter. You really need to have a meeting with the counselor, vice principal, school psychiatrist, and teacher. Our school calls this an SST Meeting (student support team). Let me know if you have any questions about this that I can answer. Good luck.
I had a VERY similar experience except in reverse. My daughter could write but was having the most awful time reading. I homeschool and had worked with her for several YEARS and we just couldn't get to that next point. I felt like a failure too.(My first daughter was a whiz kid) Lydia was already diagnosed ADHD and I was terrified it was something like Autism. She was seven when I discovered the problem. I found it when I removed the chemicals from my house when my parents with dementia moved in with our family.
I immediately noticed she was calmer and more obedient. She paid more attention to me when we worked together and I had her on grade level reading within eight weeks. Her diagnosis of ADHD was also UN-diagnosed.
I'm not saying that that is definitely your daughter's problem, but I am willing to bet it is exacerbating it if your home contains normal store bought bath and body and cleaning supplies. (They out-gas and contraindicate with each other just like pharmaceuticals do.) If you have detoxed your home already then there may be something deeper, but in my case I helped my little girl out, protected my parents, got myself and my family healthier and saved money in the process.
I hope this helps. If you'd like to know more, please let me know. I'd be glad to help.
Hi we homeschool, and we have a very bright 7 year old son who has also given us a lot of trouble with writing. He reads wonderfully, he is actually reading at a 4th grade reading level. But writing... oh I would almost rather have my teeth pulled. If you are homeschooling try backing off a bit and let her come to it on her own. Sometimes the brain just isn't ready for certian skills. If you have ruled out disability it could just be timing. With that said...
Here are somethings we have used with some success. Use fill in the blank sentences where she only needs to write a few words. Have her orally tell you about what she is reading about. That will at least help you gauge how well she is comprehending what she is reading. Let her start a diary or journal. My son loves his own journal and we only ask him to write 2 to 3 sentences. You could have her just write one or two or even a few favorite words. Something we found recently that has help tremedously with writing assignments is a race. I write the same thing he is writing and the one to get to the end with it written neatly (with in reason) and without major errors wins. Something about a race seems to get my son in the mood to do better. Of course the races are fixed since I can write faster so I obviously go slower as long as he doesn't stop.
All in all you need to look at your child for what she is ready for. Not all children are ready for everything at the same time. We have used handwriting with out tears and did enjoy it. It got us over a hump. Good Luck.
two ideas for you. I was a special education teacher in ohio and we used a program called handwriting without tears and it is great. we used it for special and regular ed kids that struggled with writing. I am sure you could type it in online and find more info.
Also if you do think there is a delay or dyslexia or soemthing, you have the right as a parent to ask for an evaluation. the school must provide this in 90 days (it may be shorter or even 120 days in sc) but you have the right to ask and recieve an evaluation. then if a delay or problem is found the can not deny services.
I wish you luck and remember to stay posistive, she needs to see that.
Something that may make it more fun for your daughter to begin writing is to buy her some different colored gel pens, fine tip sharpie markers, colored pencils and colored paper. I have spiral notebooks of lined paper in both purple and black, made especially for gel pens. One warning, gel pens can be a bit cantankerous and need shaking sometimes to make them work. You will be able to find a large affordable selection of sharpies and colored pencils at an office store or Walmart. Gel pens should be available at a hobby store like Michaels, Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's Fabrics. Do you ever sit down with her to write or doodle? Maybe writing or doodling together would be encouraging to her. You could try scrapbooking together too, she can write a short caption about the picture underneath it. Do you think it might be related to a vision problem or dyslexia?
Is she writing to show that she understands what she reads? If so, have her retell orally. If she can't retell, she may not understand the story. Some children are great at saying the words but aren't really paying attention to the story. Also try having her make a story web---put the main idea of the story in the middle circle, then put ideas that contribute to the main idea on the lines that radiate from the circle.
Hi T., I've raised 7 children and worked in daycare and I've never heard another example of what you describe. I wish I could help, but I haven't the knowledge. It almost sounds as if there is some kind of disconnect in the brain between the motor skill of writing and everything else. My advice, as pitiful as it may sound is to ask your doctor as it sounds a little more serious than just a little girl who refuses to do what you ask of her. Hope this helps. Have a great day.
I'm a parent of two "Teenagers" in all sense of the word. (Smile) I can't speak for all, but I can say that when each of mine started writing I would call it a "fun" day and take just the one child to the parent teacher store. Pick out the green paper and pencils along with other cool items. Then go to lunch. This makes it seem like arts & craft time and not school work. Sit down with your child and find his or her favorite words in their favorite book and start practicing those words first, then you can move on to home work. Also, be sure to buy the stars in the parent/teacher store to out on her paper and hang those on the refrigerator too. I hope this helps!
You are over the big hurdle (in my opinion) and that is you have a daughter who loves to read! Congrats! This will serve her years in many, many areas including writing. Here are the things that come to mind when I read your post. 1) We really cannot MAKE anyone do anything and with kids who have a stubborn nature, trying to do so will often just cause them to dig their heels in more. 2) Talk to her teacher and see if testing for learning disabilities are in order. Talk to her pediatrician as well. These are the years when some of these issues become apparent and if she needs some assistance it's better to find out early than late. 3) Keep in mind that she is 6. It is easy to compare your child's progress to others in her class, to siblings, friend's children and maybe even yourself at her age. But she is just her. She will do everything at her own pace and in her own time. Again, she loves reading and this is a huge hurdle. 4) Perhaps you and dh can come up with a reward system for you dh that will promote her attempts and attitudes towards writing rather than what she actually produces.
My dd is now 18. She was just accepted to the college of her choice. She did not read til she was 8! Writing was a struggle and so was math in a big way. So I am telling you, there is hope. Be patient. Enjoy the positives and keep watch but don't stress to much about the negatives. Hope this helps, S.
Your daughter probably has trouble with hand-eye coordination. I had the same problem as a kid-still do to some degree. There are exercises that she can do, presented as a game, to improve her hand-eye coordination, and then she will likely be able to write. She maybe knows she isn't good at it, so she avoids it. I was the same. I can't give you any specific exercises to do, but you can probably find some online. I have also heard that video games help with that. There are some really good educational ones that are fun and can help her, too. I hope this helps. Grandma
My 4 1/2 year old has also had trouble with writing. He learned to read early and fully understands what he reads, but found learning to write extremely difficult. It turned out that he needed occupational therapy to help him overcome some muscle weaknesses that made it truly difficult (and no fun) to write. He has made incredible progress in less than 3 months. He goes once a week for 45 minutes and we also have things we try to work on at home. He looks forward to OT every week, so it's been a great experience. He just didn't have the strength and coordination to write and needed some extra help. Our pediatrician refered us to the OT. His teacher at school has noticed big improvements, and at home we've seen that he no longer avoids writing.
I have a 7yr boy who dislikes to write very much and reading what he writes is very hard. We use writing time as time outs. If he is in trouble he has to write so many times what he did wronge. It has improved hand writing a little. Another thing is his teacher said teaching them cursiv (spelling?)My 5 yr doesn't like to write at all. Sunday school has got him to do some. Good luck. N. M
Sounds like you got lots of good advice already. My response is similar: 1)talk to her teacher and see what she thinks. See if the teacher can work with her and get some progress. Don't try to push it yourself. The pressure from you might make it worse. 2) Observe within this year and if no progress is made, get her tested. I know several kids who read at an early age, but have a hard time connecting their ability to write. There might be otehr underlying issues and this next couple year is when you find out and get a good jump on intervention. Good luck!
maybe you could try writing a letter to a friend , let her see you and know how much fun it will be for the friend who receives the letter . write the shopping list or have her feel she is helping by writing the shopping list.
can't hurt, hang in there.
I have a friend with a son with similar sounding problems. The mom is a school teacher and she was able to recognize that it could be a learning problem. Perhaps your daughter isn't being stubborn, but actually has a difficulty with numbers. Most people with learning problems are very bright. Many famous people have learning problems and have learned to overcome them. Perhaps your child's school has a testing program, if you talk to her teacher. Caught early enough, children can learn new ways of looking at their specific area of difficulty and can do wonderful turn-arounds.
My brother had learning problems, but very bright. My mother was in total denial and wouldn't address the problem at all. I think he paid the price in the long run, with poor self-esteem and under-achievement.
Best of luck as you search for answers. I'm sure you will do the right thing.
My beautiful Daughter had the very same problem. Read great for a six year old, but we had the writing problem. I took her to the Dr. We had her tested and she has ADD. Not ADHD, there is a difference. Because she wasn't bouncing off the walls and could sit quietly for hours, we never considered it. She was also found to have a very mild learning dissability. With medication for the ADD and special classes in school three times a week, she is soaring again. Please don't wait to have her tested. If nothing is wrong, you've lost nothing, but if there is something you can catch now, you will save yourself and your daughter years of suffering! The school will test her, but you have to go to them and insist. Check with the Dr. first if you feel better there. Hope it helps. V., Mother of three ages 31, 25 and 10.
I'm going to mention something no one wants to hear but it might help you. there are many reasons your daughter might be experiencing problems with writing. One is lack of fine and/or gross motor control---it is fairly common and just means that she possibly needs some occupational therapy to increase the strength and motor control in her hands. There is a term for children with problems such as this---it is called dysgraphia (hard or difficult writing). A call to your peditrician should be all you need to get her evaluated. my 11 yr. old son just learned to write his cursive letters this year due to a similiar problem. if I can be on any further help, please drop a note. A.
First you need to try and identify what it is about writing that she doesn't like or cannot do. Is it a fine motor control thing and she just isn't forming the letters? Or is it a thinking and linking thing and she she is not wanting to spell the words out? Either way, the Montessori method or learning to write will help. First, you want to purchase what is known as the "Movable Alphabet" from a Montessori supplies website...just google it. The movable alphabet are wooden cut out letters that are large. You hold the letter up and use your finger to trace the letter, when that motion is smooth then you move onto tracing it holding a pencil. This exercise is just to train the fine motors to make the letter effortlessly. When she is comfortable with this then you move onto doing it on paper. do a search for the Montessori Method and pick up a copy...there are many things you can make at home and do with her out of this book. In Montessori, the guide the child to write before they focus on reading...actuall they never do focus on reading, the children just happen to learn to read while they are exploring the sounds of the letters and the motions to draw them. Check it out and I am positive it will help.
My daughter is only 4 at this time and is stubborn also. I am not looking forward to the first grade, but I was thinking after I read your reply ..."What would I do if I was in this situation?" Does your child have friends her own age that can write their letters? I have play dates every once in a while with the children from Pre-K and let them do arts and crafts that they get to do there. My daughter's best friend is a little older than my daughter even if they are the same age, so the maturity helps a great deal. Maybe you could get one of the children in her class at school (or a Tutor) to come over and make it a fun event as well as an educational time. Am I making sense? I have no idea what to tell you to do. Maybe take the books she loves to read and have her rewrite the book? I use a "my first leap frog" with my daughter and although I am having some problems explaining the difference between the small i and the small l...she is trying. You are NOT a failure, so do not even think about that. Some children just learn in different phases. Good Luck and Keep us informed on what happens. ~G.
I am a 44 year old First Time mother of a daughter who is now 4.
you can try a pediatric occupational therapist. I would discuss it with your MD and get a prescription. many use a handwriting program called handwriting without tears. It can be a lot of issues behind this besides just stubbornness!
Is your daughter by any chance left-handed? My 14 year old is, and I had a very hard time with her because she would get teased at school when she wrote left handed - but she is VERy left-handed, so she would get fussed at by the teachers when she tried to use her right hand because of how bad her writing would be. As a result, she developed a hatred of writing and refused to do anything that involved picking up a pencil. We finally got around it by talking to her teachers and her, but because of how long it took to figure out what the problem was, at 14 her handwriting still looks almost as bad as her 7 year old cousins.
Just a quick thought...she may benefit from an evaluation by an occupational therapist to make sure that her visual perceptual skills and her fine motor skills are where they should be and if not they can recommend specific exercises to address them. Let me know if you need help pursuing this. I'm a PT so have some insight into how to refer.
Have you tried putting her in front of a computer and teaching her to type. It might be more interesting to her and if she falls in love with letters on the screen, she might have more interest in making them. Also, try showing her different large fonts, like the letter A in several different fonts and have her copy them, once you have printed them off. If she thinks it is a game, she might like to play.
I am sure that she already owns plastic magnet letters that stick to the refrigerator, sometimes it is fun to push their shapes into play dough. Get an etch-a-scetch and have her play with that and attempt to write letters, or those small boards that you write on and then lift the paper and erase everything so you can start over.
I hope some of these ideas help.
Have you talked with her teacher? Is there a chance she might have some type of learning disability? There are many very intelligent and bright children who have different challenges, such as writing.
If it were me, I would talk to the teacher and possibly have her evaluated by an occupational therapist. My son has an amazing OT who helps him with handwriting. Her name is Mary Blaesing and she is at Therapy Works, on Sugarloaf - near Discover Mills.