I have read quite a bit about how many gifted children are great readers but many (especially boys?) often find great difficulty in writing.
My son (7) is assessed as gifted but considered to have a specific learning disability (SLD). With extra help he is now reading really well and reads alot for pleasure, so I am now happy enough with his reading. Not sure exactly what his "reading age" would be, but he seems to read all kinds of chapter books out of the library and loves reading. About 6 months ago he wasn't reading fluently at all so we have made big gains there.
However, his writing is still a problem. He seems to have quite a bit of anxiety around writing at school. He's always being told he's too slow and made to sit by the teacher with the "naughty boys" I think to minimise distractions although he says its actually more distracting sitting there! His spelling is not great but not too too atrocious and his handwriting is a bit awkward but has improved. His handwriting seems pretty variable-sometimes pretty neat, other times terrible. But the main problem is he seems to struggle with actually organising his thoughts and thinking what to write down. He has so many thoughts in there eg can tell you all about a big long book he's read so no problem with comprehension. He struggles with general organisation anyway.
I got him to write me a story at home last night and he wrote over a page of a writing notepad which was a lot for him. He had managed to spell some quite hard words correctly (but lots of words spelled wrong too). But the whole thing was like "stream of consciousness" no full stops or anything just "this happened, then this, then this etc etc....!!!
Does anyone have any tips? His teacher just seems to put it all down to "needs better work habits"....
My son's class have done writing where they have to write down 3 facts only and then expand each to 1 paragraph only. Having the limit seems to help them choose what's important.
Sounds like your son could benefit from some of the essay writing techniques taught at Intermediate level e.g. essay plan in bullet points, organise those then write. Many books available on this and if you know anyone with older children they may be able to share how it's taught these days.
Story boards may also be a good idea for him to organise his thoughts to present.
Running out door now....
We have the same thing happening in our house with regards to writing. And I know for our son that it has a lot to do with getting it right and also the fact that there is sooo much going on in his head that writing the bare bones of his thoughts seems almost pointless.
We are at a different stage as he is only five, but its his writing that is 'holding him back'. He's not behind, he just finds it frustrating that it limits him when it comes to expressing himself in his areas of stregths.
We are trying mind maps - map out the ideas using words, sentences, questions, or images and link them, then put them into a more sequential order such as bullet points. Then there is room to expand on each or one or two of the bullet points. There is software you can trial for free called 'kidspirational' which is fabulous fun for this and it turns your mind map into a bullet pointed sequence at the push of a button. Its a fabulous tool for reluctant writers and visual kids alike. Might be something you can encourage the school to purchase...
FREE and very good software you can download is Windows Photo Story.
This is really user friendly. You select images/photos from your computer and then go back to add written text and/or record verbally. You can then select music from either their selection or your own music file to play in the background. It then plays as a slideshow. I really recommend trying this. Potential plus for what it can be used for, i.e., research projects, trips, dairy, e-letter, class presentation, book reviews etc.
Another way is using lemon juice to make secret messages, or writing letters/postcards. Doesn't even have to be in english, could be another language to spcie it up as they still have to think about their ideas. We do this. My son thinks of his ideas and I type them out and print them, including a few extras. He then chooses which ones he wants to use, cuts them out and glues them into the sequence he wants and posts them off. While it doesn't encourage writing as per say it is about organising the thoughts.
Also their is no harm in dictating. It may help to blurb out and either write for him, or have him record his voice, to get out all his ideas first so he can process through them and get a bit more clarity about how to structure his written work.
Hope you find something useful. I look forward to hearing ideas from others as this topic continues.
I too have had the same problem with DS7.5. In year 1 at school he was a fantastic little writer (along with reading and spelling and maths etc). It wasn't until year 2 that we started having problems. It was later in year 2 that he was identified as gifted. He seemed to go backwards in lots of things (except reading and spelling), but particularly writing.
Anyway I used to stress about his writing soooo much. This year, in year 3 he is having a much better year all round (probably thanks to attendance at ODS). Everything has taken off and I haven't really taken too much interest in his writing, I am just letting it take its course. Take a look at the writing of doctors, scientists and the like; sometimes quite shocking, and these kids will use computers for evething in the future.
Anyway I think a lot of it is to do with their brain trying to process everything and get it all written down, and him being such a perfectionist that he wouldn't write unless he got it absolutely perfect. I looked into dictating, getting a keyboard etc etc, but none of this was taken too positively by the school. This year we have concentrated on boosting his self esteem about anything he writes, and making him see that nothing is perfect and that it is ok to make mistakes. I also think there was an element of boredom, you know having to write each week what he did on the weekend!!!! Boring, once he gets to write about what he loves (i.e transformers or gaming) and he can write 13 pages!!!!
He has gone from a kid who in year 1 loved writing and was great at it, to year 2 where he totally refused to write anything, to year 3 where he is so much more confident. I think for my ds it is just a matter of time.
But some great ideas are coming through. Take a look at bubbledome.co.nz. they have some great writing ideas too.
Thats interesting about your son going well with writing at the beginning and it then seeming to regress. I have been thinking about this, not so much about my son (his writing was never that great!) but I have a nephew who is HG and he was a good writer at the beginning of school but it all went to pot and then by age 7 his writing was basically pretty illegible. Also like your son he was a very advanced reader and this went from strength to strength.
Kind of interesting, I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on this, or if others have had kids who have had this happen with writing? I feel that part of it could be the high level of sensitivity that many of these kids have-that if they are happy and engaged in learning it all skyrockets, if not, it all goes to custard. I know my son now has it in his mind that he is a bad writer, as he is always being told he's too slow etc etc. I'm sure it affects how he performs as he gets a bit paralysed with the anxiety of it. As he has SLD I feel its a bit unfair on him to treat it as if he's just being distracted or lazy-I actually think he needs help to build up his confidence using strategies that help him order his ideas. Will definitely look at the websites and programs being suggested-thanks.
Really interesting thread for me as it is exactly what we are going through with Mstr # 2 in Y2.
He is young for his year and currently 6.5 yrs. He does extremely well in maths and reading, and spells exceptionally well but the writing just kills him. We have just been through reports and Teacher conference and it wasn't the best experience ever. But I know he has it all in his head with writing- he just can't get it out through his hand. Partly because he has so many ideas and so many thoughts he can't isolate them, also because he is a perfectionist and has to get it 100% right or there is no point. His teacher has maintained all year that it's a boy thing, but I thought there was more to it. She now has him writing in a special place in the class that is like a cave. It's quiet, he can't see the others and he has all his tools there. He wrote nearly a page for the first time this week. Maybe he has been too distracted or suffering from sensory overload up till now. I know big brother ( also GT) struggled with too much noise in the class, and rain on the roof etc so its possible there is an element of that.
I love Vanessa's ideas and will be trying the Windows Photo Story- it sounds ideal!
He actually sounds like he's doing really well for a 7 year old, whatever your teacher may be trying to suggest. I can only dream of my 9 year old doing what he's doing. That your son can write on occasion, no matter how it comes out, is the important thing. The moment he starts thinking that what he's doing isn't good enough, is when he stops trying at all. Incremental changes can be made to his work only as long as he is producing. Enthusiasm is the key. Applies not just to writing of course.
Some excellent ideas here. There is a power point presentation about reluctant writers that I did for a conference at http://www.georgeparkyncentre.org/documents/m_stgeorge_dodging_past_the_pen.pdf which may also be helpful.
Barbara Rinard's work is the most helpful that I have read on reluctant writers who are gifted. See http://nswagtc.org.au/info/articles/Rinard_Reluctant%20Writer.PDF
Linda Silverman has also done a presentation on gifted boys who are reluctant writers here in New Zealand, but I was unable to attend. She came at the invitation of Rosemary Cathcart. I can't see any noted from this session online at a quick search, but they may be there.
Lesley Ansell-Shepherd writes on her experiences of highly gifted sons who are reluctant writers here: http://www3.telus.net/giftedcanada/wrtout.PDF . She does draw on some of Linda Silverman's ideas.
Your post came at just the right time for me! I homeschool my 9 3/4 daughter and 7 3/4 son - both whom are VERY VS, my daughter slightly dyslexic although my son an excellent reader.
Both used to attend school.
Yesterday I had a huge argument with my son who did NOT want to do the writing I had asked them to do. Essentially it was answering questions in a book I'd made up about living at Scott Base. Very little writing really! It took about an hour to get a couple of sentences (if that) out of him - in between tantrums, yelling, tears and much door banging.
Yesterday I could've easily sent them back to school! However I know that if they were in school writing would be a reason to hold them back in all other areas - so they really are best outside of school. I have quickly read through the websites you provided and have printed much of them out to read properly later. However most seemed to be about fictional writing rather than necessary boring writing! Any ideas for an amateur??
As you know I homeschool my 11 yr old son with similar issues. I'm working on taking the path of least resistance and trusting that things will happen when he is ready. I don't require any physical writing of him except one word fill in the blanks which he is happy to do. He'll also happily draw and label things by hand and make odd notes if he needs them.
In a completely different context he is writing a play on the computer - entirely his own idea, based on his favourite video game. At first I had to give him lots of help, doing all the typing and helping him organise ideas. However he thought to 'borrow' the plot summary from Wikipedia and then to further summarise and amend it. This was a lot easier and less daunting than starting with a blank screen!
Last year he wrote a play and got the kids at one day school to perform it. Then he edited it, put music on (using windows movie maker) and burnt it to dvd. All his own idea - no one asked him to.
This year he's planning the sequel. As he had something to work with and experience he is doing a lot more typing etc. Wants me to sit with him while he does it but I busy myself with paperwork and am just there for consultation.
That old chestnut about doing if for a purpose. Your son probably can't see any purpose to what you're asking. Is the purpose to practise handwriting or writing skills? Probably help to seperate them.Hope this helps.
HI Anita -
So funny that your son is into making movies! So's mine! He's already made about 4-5! Most with photos he's taken or other pictures he's found. He adds the background music, does the spin offs etc and always adds the occasional words including names to complete. I'll look at getting him into a Bubbledome school hol course either this year or next and he is very interested in animation. He borrowed a book on computer animation from the library last week - although it is an adult book, he is fascinated.
He has 'written' a book on the computer. We have the software - Knowledge Adventure, Books by you. This is presented by John Lithgow and has a range of ready made books that the individual has to add the finishing touches to. He's loved that!
I do agree that much of both children's dilemma is that neither can understand why I want them to write when they know the stuff already - and they can't write how they would speak it. Both are talk-a-holics!!!
I'm going to have a look at that writing without tears. I'm sure I've come across it before but maybe discarded it as it didn't seem so important at that time...
I was wondering if any parents of reluctant writers got better results if the child was allowed to type on the computer rather than having to handwrite? A typing course has been recommended for my child as she is dyspraxic and the future use of a computer at school is seen as a way forward for her. Can anyone on the forum recommend a touch-typing program or course that their child has used or attended?
Aparently there are touch type programs on the internet for kids, but the other option is a new Leapfrog hand held called Text & Write or similar.
They type in txts but the point is it teaches them a querty keyboard.
I haven't bought it because wondering if its a bit babyish but I think it would be great.
Not having much luck finding much support for Dyspraxia - trying to get reccomended occupational therapists though the Dyspraxia association but not having much luck at the moment.
A paediatrician recommended Tux typing to us, we never actually tried it as my daughter (gifted and dyspraxic) was very resistant and felt that she was doing just fine on the laptop when she eventually got it, but yes yes yes to letting them use a keyboard instead of writing. R was miserable whenever she was made to write in school and was constantly marked wrong in maths because her 2s and 5s looked pretty much the same. We don't understand (because we can all do it), what a complex fine motor task writing is, never mind the cognitive side of it. The laptop made a Huge difference to R's output and to her self esteem. Imagine the frustration of being as good or better than everyone else in the class in terms of understanding and not being able to express it. She had trouble making friends too as the other children thought she was stupid or weird and she cried a lot. She's nearly 15 now, doing well at school, and writing a novel which she posts on a creative writing website. She's up to chapter 25 (she assures me she has an ending!!!) and we've had to threaten painful outcomes if she writes when she should be doing homework. We are looking at touch tying courses this year because she has NCEA and it would be better if she was faster although the hunt and peck method has served her pretty well. Having said all this though it is still important that they can write well enough to fill in a form so it is worth perservering to a certain degree.
I think the teacher who makes them stay in to finish work needs to have a think, I can understand how hard it is to get some kids to get on with their work but expecting a child with a disability such a dyspraxia to stay in at lunch time because he/she hasn't finished something is just punishing them for something they cant help. Maybe a keyboard would solve that problem for all of you. Good luck getting help, it seems to be very difficult and full of fish-hooks.
Tux typing is really cool. It's very much like a normal video game (shoot the baddies, get out of the maze, collect points, so many 'lives') but all of the activities require you to type and faster as you get up the levels, very clever design.
Clicker 5 is great programme for reluctant writers. Very visual and removes worry about spelling. You can get Clicker5@Home which is cheaper. Google it to watch a demo video that steps you through its functions. Sorry don't have time to locate this and add the link. Some schools are already using this.
My two boys were very poor writers. One went to school and the other was home schooled. I taught them both to type at about the age of 8 or 9, using an oldfashioned `Learn To Type' manual from about 1945 (just a bit of an exaggeration but not much). They did 5 minutes daily. They both loved it and learned very fast indeed. Their younger sister (also home schooled) who COULD write by hand and liked to do so, was champing at the bit to learn to type and she began on a small portable typewriter at age 7.
Being confident, accurate touch typists has assisted them enormously in life. They are all now very grown up and the girl, recently back in NZ for a holiday, but working in London as a lawyer, said quite recently that these days in corporate law offices, the junior partners are expected to cope with their own correspondence - very few secretaries on hand it appears - and because of her speed and accuracy of typing she apparently streaks ahead of her colleagues in this area....and it causes her no stress whatsoever.
Here is the link to find out about Clicker 5 (UK version). There is an ANZ version that includes our colloquialisms. Great for in school, or for home schoolers! Very visual and easy to use. can be edited to include interest words of your choice fromt eh topic/s you are studying.
I tutor children privately who have difficulties with reading, writing or mathematics. I have a Master of Education degree with distinction in special education and am a fully qualified NZ teacher. I am based in Hamilton.
There are many ways to encourage and provide children with the skills to enable them to become writers. My tuition is about providing children with the underpinnings they need.
Please feel free to visit my website: www.advance-tuition.co.nz.
So sorry, Rebecca, not to look back into this forum for such a long time. The "writing as thought-processing", which is what I call the idea that I most love in Brenda Rinard's work, is very helpful in non-fiction writing.
I also get children to write fiction based on fact at times - a good historical novel is based on accurate historical research, and we tend to fall in love with the story more than the history, but learn some history by accident. We can exploit this love of story in children as writers, if we require them to incorporate some factually accurate material in fictional writing. They will love the fantasy writing and enjoy parts of the factual writing by accident! And the more they write what they love to write, the more they will love writing, and the fewer forms of writing will bother them.
As to the comments on typing on computers as compared to handwriting, there are three reasons why typing is preferred by many children. One is that it is a simpler movement pattern. Another is that it requires recognition of a letter on a key (and a capital letter at that, no b/d confusion) rather than remembering how to form the letter. The third is that every letter you type looks perfect, even if you made a spelling mistake and re-typed it, there is no rubber scuff or crossing out to annoy the perfectionist and distract the distractible. These factors are helpful to many, but not all children.
We need to balance these benefits against factors like screen glare, screen time, risks to posture and hands, distractions within the computer such as games, and the fact that the more complex and kinetic nature of handwriting can help us to remember more of the learning we do during written tasks (from personal experience, I don't know of any research) and may help us to think more creatively (I may be wrong about this - research has shown that designers using computers tend to be more creative if they do at least part of the process away from the screen, and I my experience suggests that this may apply to writing as well).
So personally, I would mix it up - some typing and some handwriting - as an ideal.
I have read all your feed back regarding Gifted kids, who are having difficulty in writting. I'm in the same level as all of you parents. What is the solution for this great barrier for all those Gifted kids.
What is the resourse tools needed here to help our kids. Teachers are the not trained to deal with Gifted kids, they are sealed as having behavior problems. In the classroom, they are compared with others kids who are doing outstanding in writing, and these giftes kids are put to shame.
Then the teacher as the parent,"What do you suggest?" We are looking up toward the expertise, those are the teachers. The school system the not actual looking in the right direction.
My son is in the same boat, tested as pretty clever but cannot write, spell or organize himself or his ideas on paper. He is 10 now and we have been 'dealing' with this issue for a couple of years now. His teachers have all said right from the beginning that the handwriting would improve and that I shouldn't worry about it. They were wrong of course because it got to the point where he was so frustrated that he just gave up at school.
After a series of very unsatisfactory meetings with teachers, RTLBs, principal etc.. we realized we weren't going to get anything from the school or the system (despite having two reports indicating giftedness and dyslexia/dyspraxia), and have embarked on our own program to help him overcome these difficulties(at our own expense too I might add).
The things that have been most beneficial for him were enrolling him in a martial arts class (has been great for improving his physical co-ordination which in turn helps with fine motor skills a la brain gym) twice a week and recently we signd him up with the Danks Davis Dyslexia program which has taught him how to spell words he never learnt to spell at school in 5 years. Also we encourage him to practice typing and after much harping on at his teacher he is now allowed half an hour a day to do this at school. I don't know which part of the country you are in but there is a wonderful Dyslexia Parent Support Group here in Auckland that you can contact via the Dyslexia Foundation website (contact is Bev or Trevor Crosby). Talking to Beverly made me feel like I was sane again. She had lots of excellent advice as she has been through this very issue with her own children who are now all grown up.
He also benefited from ODS. Very slowly he is starting to overcome some of the difficulties associated with having a SLD (still doesn't use any punctuation though and still reverses some letters and numbers) but that has been largely down to the things we have put in place for him. I personally would not rely on the system to help remedy your son's difficulties, apart from anything the frustration and negativity you experience from their lack of understanding and support just impacts on your son and your family. The way we saw it, it was better to take control of the situation and fund your own initiatives. I wish I'd done that earlier and believed a bit more in my own judgement. It takes a a very special teacher to recognize a SLD and an extremely committed one to actually do anything about it, at the end of the day the system is not designed to help these children as they learn differently to the main stream.