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    #195688 - 07/01/14 04:55 AM Emotional Questions
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Sorry if this is the wrong forum. I put it here because it has to do more with DS emotions than "schooling".

    DS 5.9 has had to afterschool daily to remediate handwriting and reading, despite being G. I feel a lot is d/t his age, requirements of school, etc. We're working often also during the summer (5x per week).

    The problem I have is his extreme emotions to challenges. Please help with short term fixes (immediate advice), as well as any long term references (books for him or me to read, etc) you can.

    On a good day, our "ten minute" handwriting session lasts probably 15 min, with minimal but still present fussing, whining, etc. On a bad day, there are tears, crying, extreme emotions, and the session lasts probably 20-30 min, most of that time with me sitting there and trying to *talk* about emotions, not needing to be perfect, inventing funny letter stories, etc. He is probably writing for only 5-10 of those min.

    The majority of issues brought up by DS: his letters don't look perfect like mine, he wants to make me happy, he can't do it, if he takes his time to do it correctly it will take too long, etc. I daily have to remind him I have sloppy handwriting unless I'm working with him, it took me a while to learn handwriting, nobody's perfect, nobody's good at first, some skills take months and years to develop, there's no need to be perfect, I'm not perfect, it's good to aim to do your best but no need to be perfect, etc.

    I require letters that are done with the wrong technique re-done (we're doing handwriting without tears).

    I hate to outsource handwriting practice, which should theoretically take only 10 min! But I'm starting to consider just dropping him off at a physical therapist to do this instead. Speaking of PT, I've had him evaluated and he does not have a fine motor delay (which I found hard to believe).

    Reading is similar, but slightly easier now. I attribute that to having working with him during the school year mostly on reading so his skills are much beyond his handwriting. But there's still a lot of resistance just seeing a word he thinks he can't spell out, or saying it wrong, a lot of whining and "I'll never get it right", etc. I used to have him read a small book, but because of this I limit reading to 10 min at a time, and then come back to reading later on.

    Part of the problem is our parent/child dynamic I'm sure. I myself am frustrated and upset that so far our summer has been met with almost daily sessions like this. I don't even want his summer to be spent doing this, but it's necessary or he'll be behind in first. Even doing this he may be behind in first grade.

    Any advice would be helpful. I'll try to check this thread often to answer questions as well.


    Edited by Displaced (07/01/14 05:00 AM)
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195693 - 07/01/14 05:58 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    KJP Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/29/12
    Posts: 756
    HWT was not without tears for my son either in the beginning. Especially the workbook.

    For now, you might consider doing some of their other handwriting (but not pencil/chalk writing) activities. There is the using the doorway as the rectangle and doing big arm motion air writing, using a baking sheet full of rice, sand, or shaving cream and writing there, the wooden letter building, the app, the songs, or the magnet set. We did a lesson with sidewalk chalk outside once where we made big letters and then he walked them and included the frog jump. You could do something like that at the beach too.

    My son did not like handwriting drill but was much happier doing writing that mattered to him. So I could get more letters out of him by having him make signs, write notes, make lists, menus, etc.

    Just some thoughts.

    Good Luck!

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    #195694 - 07/01/14 06:11 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4954
    You've received some great ideas already! smile A few more thoughts...

    Possibly ask him to look at his letters and tell you which ones he is most pleased with, which ones he'd like to redo... then support him and accept the level he sets? This may help him feel in control of his education and level of mastery and provide the benefit of ongoing sense of ownership of his decisions.

    Possibly set a timer to ten minutes and then stop, no matter what has been accomplished? This may help him develop trust that when you say 10 minutes, you mean 10 minutes. (On the other hand, if your rule is work until a lesson is completed, then you may wish to remove the reference to "10 minutes" as an estimate... he may decide to move along more quickly to completion.)

    Possibly ask what he would like to learn/see/do/experience this summer and help him achieve that? This may help him learn to see you as supportive and also help him understand that a relative weakness in one or more areas does not establish a ceiling or limit as to what he can learn and achieve in other areas.

    He may need the above skills and internalized beliefs to stay motivated throughout school (and life) and may also use them as a foundation for his own self-advocacy efforts in higher grades.

    Possibly you may find the book A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children to be helpful?

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    #195700 - 07/01/14 07:37 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Sounds like task-avoidant perfectionism to me. We know it well in our household.

    Two things have helped with our DD in this area in the past:

    1) Setting a frame of reference for reasonable expectations. Your DS is getting help from you in writing, so he knows what your writing looks like. Does he know what typical first-grade writing looks like? If you can't take him through the school and show him samples on the wall (I assume not, because summer), see if you can find some images online.

    2) Setting up for a win, and then celebrating the win. Set a goal he'd have to work at but you KNOW he's capable of (you most certainly don't want him to fail, as that just makes things worse), push him though it, and then congratulate him. And then, don't forget to say, "I told you you could do it!" In just about any other context "I told you so" is considered rude, but for your child, it helps them to recognize that you know things they don't, and they should trust you in the future.

    For the short term, it sounds like you've got a good approach, but the situation is not improving. There's no silver bullet here, because every child and every situation is different. Sometimes all that's needed is perseverance, because these kids tend to struggle until they have an "AHA!" moment, and then their obstacle disappears. Sometimes it does help to get someone new involved, because your DS might relax and not worry so much about pleasing the other person, or they may have a new way of presenting things that makes more sense to him. So your outsourcing instinct is not a bad one.

    Another idea is that the task avoidance may be enhanced by the tediousness of the task. I mean, seriously, who wants to write four lines of n's? Anything you can do to enhance the environment might pay off... background music, some snack crackers handy, whatever.

    For the long term, I suggest you pick up a couple of books on perfectionism for each of you. I could recommend one for the child, but it's specifically geared to girls. Since he's still working on reading, I'd read his to him, and discuss.

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    #195702 - 07/01/14 08:01 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Displaced, I am replying on my phone so please excuse any bizarre auto-corrects smile

    Originally Posted By: Displaced
    DS 5.9 has had to afterschool daily to remediate handwriting and reading, despite being G. I feel a lot is d/t his age, requirements of school, etc. We're working often also during the summer (5x per week).


    I was curious about why you were after schooling reading and writing so I glanced back through your previous posts. From what you've previously written it sounds like ds had a tough year in kindy and was considered to be struggling according to his teacher, you've had him evaluated privately but no LD was found, there is dyslexia in your family, and there's a possibility that teacher fit this past year was an issue.

    If I've misunderstood any of that please let me know. I restated it here because I feel it helps having that background in answering your current questions.

    eta - note to add about testing for LDs - they aren't always straightforward or revealed easily through testing. Sometimes it takes a few years of academics to see the impact of the LD (sometimes it can take years), and it's also important to be sure you understand what a person means by "LD" when they use the term - school districts may be referring to very specific (and low) bars that a student must be functioning below in terms of academics to call that student (officially) "LD", and psychs often don't use the term "LD". A student might not have an official LD and yet still have a challenge that is going to be almost impossible to work around and over without significant effort in remediation or accommodations.

    Quote:
    The problem I have is his extreme emotions to challenges.]

    Do you feel he has extreme emotional challenges to any types of challenge or to this work in particular? If he reacts this way in general to challenges or things he doesn't want to do I would try to work through it, but if his reactions are magnified with respect to reading and writing work I would think through and possibly rethink the approach. His reactions *might* be his almost 6 year old way of telling you that the work is *truly* difficult for him.

    [quote]On a good day, our "ten minute" handwriting session lasts probably 15 min, with minimal but still present fussing, whining, etc. On a bad day, there are tears, crying, extreme emotions, and the session lasts probably 20-30 min, most of that time with me sitting there and trying to *talk* about emotions, not needing to be perfect, inventing funny letter stories, etc. He is probably writing for only 5-10 of those min.


    This indicates to me that - no matter what the reason - the sessions aren't accomplishing what you want them to.

    Quote:
    The majority of issues brought up by DS: his letters don't look perfect like mine, he wants to make me happy, he can't do it, if he takes his time to do it correctly it will take too long, etc.

    [quote] I daily have to remind him I have sloppy handwriting unless I'm working with him, it took me a while to learn handwriting, nobody's perfect, nobody's good at first, some skills take months and years to develop, there's no need to be perfect, I'm not perfect, it's good to aim to do your best but no need to be perfect, etc.


    There might be a bit of a disconnect between what you are telling your ds here and what you are having him do - from his perspective. You're essentially trying to let him know he doesn't have to be a high-achiever at handwriting right now and skills take time to develop, but you're also having him practice for what can seem like a huge amount of time to a child his age. jmo, but I think that it's easier to motivate young children to work on this type of skill when they have a clear reason why they need to learn it.

    Quote:
    I require letters that are done with the wrong technique re-done (we're doing handwriting without tears).


    If this is causing issues at this point in time I would back off for now and maybe for a week or so focus on having ds write a row of letters and circle the two he thinks look best. Praise him for those good-looking letters and quietly observe which letters he is not forming correctly. With HWOT you will go over the correct formation at the start of the pages where you copy a letter for practice. Try to notice what's up with not using the correct formation - is he just trying to get through quickly, is it due to not understanding, does he seem to not be able to control where he starts, is it consistently incorrect or randomly incorrect?

    Quote:
    I hate to outsource handwriting practice, which should theoretically take only 10 min! But I'm starting to consider just dropping him off at a physical therapist to do this instead. Speaking of PT, I've had him evaluated and he does not have a fine motor delay (which I found hard to believe).


    If it *is* dysgraphia it's important to understand that an eval by a PT isn't necessarily going to reveal it. Handwriting would specifically have to be part of the eval - many dysgraphic children, including my severely dysgraphic ds, have good fine motor skills for certain types of fine motor tasks. The disconnect with dysgraphia is in the inability of the brain to learn the automaticity of forming letters. The reason behind the dysgraphia could be fine-motor impacted of it could be due to visual-motor integration. The clues that showed our ds was dysgraphic were in observing his writing process, comparing his handwriting samples to peers in early elementary (which is tricky - dysgraphia isn't the same thing as sloppy or early-developing handwriting), and discrepancy on ability subtest scores as well as widely varying achievement test scores. Additional testing from his neuropsych helped verify it was dysgraphia and delineated the type.

    Quote:
    Reading is similar, but slightly easier now. I attribute that to having working with him during the school year mostly on reading so his skills are much beyond his handwriting. But there's still a lot of resistance just seeing a word he thinks he can't spell out, or saying it wrong, a lot of whining and "I'll never get it right", etc.


    You might find it helpful to have your ds to through a thorough reading eval by a specialist. I only mention this because you are seeing resistance and because there is a family history of dyslexia. Reading requires a wide range of skills all coming together and it can be extremely difficult to tease out a reading challenge. Two of my kids struggled with early reading - for one it was simply a vision issue (eyes not working together, issues were resolved with vision therapy and her reading took off), for the other it was a challenge associating symbols and sound which has required very specific and intensive reading tutoring.

    Quote:
    I used to have him read a small book, but because of this I limit reading to 10 min at a time, and then come back to reading later on.


    It was mentioned already but worth mentioning again - our teachers have always stressed the importance of parents reading out loud TO their children, no matter what age/grade. I would put that as my first priority at this point, and try to make it fun, books that your ds is interested in. When you are having him practice reading with you, try making it light and simple. Start with him reading a sentence or two and you reading the next few sentences and over time work up to alternating pages. Don't stress out when he misses a word or can't decode a word, just let him know what it is. Try to just observe over time what type of roadblocks he hits - is it a certain type of word, does he have challenges with big words or does he get tripped up randomly with small words you would expect him to already know? Does he read more consistently when he is starting a session than later on when he might be tired? Etc.

    Quote:
    Part of the problem is our parent/child dynamic I'm sure. I myself am frustrated and upset that so far our summer has been met with almost daily sessions like this. I don't even want his summer to be spent doing this, but it's necessary or he'll be behind in first. Even doing this he may be behind in first grade.


    To be honest, I would seriously consider dropping the sessions for the rest of the summer. It sounds like they are producing far too ugh stress for both of you with only minimal gain. You really don't know at this point how first grade will go. He may star out behind but then catch up easily in school if he doesn't have any deeper challenges with reading and writing. If he does have challenges, working without understanding them is most likely not going to help significantly. Instead focus on observing but not pushing - hope that makes sense.

    Best wishes,

    polarbear


    Edited by polarbear (07/01/14 09:52 AM)

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    #195703 - 07/01/14 08:20 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    ABQMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/25/10
    Posts: 868
    This screams dysgraphia or dyslexia to me.

    You might try these instead of sitting with pencil and paper:

    trace letters on fine sandpaper
    trace letters in the air using big, wide, sweeping motions (engages major muscles instead of fine motor)
    trace letters on an iPad or draw them in a drawing app

    These helped tremendously, but mostly it just took time. His writing was basically illegible until fourth or fifth grade when his motor development caught up a bit. Physical therapy helped tremendously.
    _________________________
    ~Lisa
    http://www.lisaabeyta.wordpress.com/

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    #195704 - 07/01/14 08:27 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Had a big break-through on number formation with DS last year, by joking about the process and laughing at mis-writes. Humor is a great tool for dispelling anxiety and negative thoughts. Also, some theories out there suggest that it helps reduce encoding wrong processes. Along those lines, I would also be careful about how you present things: redoing something because it was made wrong feels punitive to a kid, and if he anticipates making errors each time he practices and that he'll receive what feels like punishment creates a lot of dissonance.

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    #195711 - 07/01/14 11:36 AM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    queencobra Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/19/13
    Posts: 42
    Loc: SF Bay Area
    I understand your position and was in a similar situation last year with handwriting. My DS6 really dislikes to write. He's a very reluctant writer because it doesn't match up very well to his verbal abilities. He's very frustrated by it. His mind works faster than he can write, so he loses his train of thought while trying to make his fingers work. He's fine motorskills challenged in other activities too, but I don't believe he is so far behind that it is a problem. It is definitely hard to compare if you aren't around kids in an educational setting.

    Last summer, between K and 1st, I decided not to push it and he took the summer off. During his first grade year, his handwriting was ok, but certainly was in the bottom of the class in comparison. Sometimes I think it actually has gotten messier than when he was in kindergarten. It is something he needs to practice more, so I vowed not to let it slide like last year.

    This summer, we are doing a journal. It is a major pain to get him to sit down and do the journal more often than not. He will complain longer than he actually spends doing it, but he will tell me he liked doing it once he finished it.

    We ask him for a page or two and a drawing. I don't correct anything, but I will verbally tell him how to spell something correctly. It isn't everyday, but a few times a week. It has really helped when I sat next to him and wrote in my own journal. His little sister also sits down and draws pictures in her journal too. This is makes it more like family time than an assignment.

    Other ideas we have done to encourage writing is to draw pictures. It isn't letter formation, but still excellent practice. Then, after a picture is done, ask him to give it a title or have him draw characters he can name. Comic book style storytelling combines pictures and simple writing. Maybe he loves a superhero or sports or a game like Minecraft? Use it!

    My son really hated writing letters over and over again, so him giving me words to spell for him worked better for getting him engaged. He felt like he was getting somewhere if he wrote a sentence or two. Alliteration is a fantastic way to write silly sentences and work on a particular letter. Also, we used thick barreled mechanical pencils with cushy grips because thin pencils were harder for him to use. Reward the effort by keeping score - stickers, coins, etc. Let him "save up" for something bigger. For some a timer might work, for us it did not and even defining quantity is a challenge as he'll write 2 words on a line and skip lines.

    I think the biggest challenge was my own patience. Practice is everything. It won't be perfect. It takes time to get there. My own frustration with my son not writing the letters right was impacting how he thought about himself. Once I backed off the criticism of his work, then he felt better about doing it.

    Are you a perfectionist? I am and it took me a while to realize that my own perfectionist tendencies weren't helping the situation. My son is also a perfectionist and it sounds like yours is too. It's a tough combination, but you can work through it!
    _________________________
    Mom to DS9 and DD6

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    #195713 - 07/01/14 12:05 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Thanks for all the replies! I wasn't anticipating so many responses so soon. I'll try to reply individually. One thing I love about this board is everyone's thoughtful responses.


    Edited by Displaced (07/01/14 12:19 PM)
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195714 - 07/01/14 12:11 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: KJP]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: KJP
    HWT was not without tears for my son either in the beginning. Especially the workbook.

    For now, you might consider doing some of their other handwriting (but not pencil/chalk writing) activities. There is the using the doorway as the rectangle and doing big arm motion air writing, using a baking sheet full of rice, sand, or shaving cream and writing there, the wooden letter building, the app, the songs, or the magnet set. We did a lesson with sidewalk chalk outside once where we made big letters and then he walked them and included the frog jump. You could do something like that at the beach too.

    My son did not like handwriting drill but was much happier doing writing that mattered to him. So I could get more letters out of him by having him make signs, write notes, make lists, menus, etc.

    Just some thoughts.

    Good Luck!


    Thanks for this suggestion. I originally thought something like this would not be helpful. He knows his letters by sight, and knows how they are supposed to look. And actually can write them well when going slowly. But, when left alone to write without supervision, they are all over the place and look like scribble for the most part. Honestly.

    I was thinking he basically has been left to his own devices for a while re: writing, and learned to write letters wrong (for instance, he makes an 8 with two separate little circles as if he were not taught to draw an S and then close it up). I was also thinking a lot of this is relative fine motor weakness and working on what is difficult will improve his outcome. But maybe just the practice of how to draw the letters for fun would be helpful too (in a sensory box). We also have a phone HWT app to trace the letters, which he equally dislikes.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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