It’s official: writing homework has become the bane of your child’s existence, and it is sending you to either jail or an early grave. I know. I’ve got one of those, and as A WRITER, it hurts even more that I haven’t been able to use my Mommy superpower to will him through it. The harder I tried, the more he resisted. I waved the white flag, backed off, and left it to the professionals that I outsource him to every day.
Sometimes there is something else going on, and sometimes they just haven’t learned how to love it yet. My son has chronic weakness of his hands and wrists due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Refusal to write more than a few sentences was one of our first clues that he had a problem. His second grade teacher suggested a consultation by the school Occupational Therapist, and taking the steps to get him a 504 Plan so he could use a keyboard in class instead of handwrite. All of that happened, and I was so excited that he would finally start to love writing!!!! (He didn’t.) So, you can fix the physical problem and learn that some kids still just aren’t there yet…
What bothered me is that my kid is a reader and a talker. He will tell me stories with lots of details, recount books he has read, shows that he has watched, and I would suggest that he apply that same skill to adding “more detail” to his written work, which is the same feedback he was getting over and over. Something about the act of writing seems foreign to these kids when storytelling does not…
So here is my Life Hack for kids who hate to write. I have been using the talk type function on my iPhone for months now, to save energy and hand strength due to my own battles with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and chronic pain. My kid is obsessed with our iPad – he loves any opportunity to use it. When I opened up the Notes app, I discovered that not only does it have a microphone to talk type, but then you can email the note to yourself. Once you do that, you can cut and paste that text into Word, edit the text, then print it out.
A friend of mine was telling me how her fourth grader was struggling with writing as well. It took him hours to put pencil to paper, and having a dyslexic husband, they were worried that he was having a brain-to-hand malfunction that they were struggling to get properly recognized and
diagnosed. But in the meantime, he still had to keep up with his work and learn how to craft a piece of writing. When I told her this idea, she nearly cried. You see, handwriting, and learning the art of creating writing are not the same skill. There is no reason why you can’t circumvent one to learn the other. Whether you are having a physiological issue, or another issue, make sure your kids’ work is not suffering while you are working to diagnose and treat their underlying problems.
(Important Note: If you have a “reluctant writer” who is very creative and smart in other ways, please have them evaluated by an Occupational Therapist or learning specialist. There may be something else going on.)