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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:13 pm 
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Hi everyone, I'm hoping for some advice please.
My eldest is in Y7 and doing well however after parent's evening we've found out that his marks vary greatly depending on the type of writing he is doing. He is a very fast typer - something like 95 words per min (I wish I knew how :lol: ) but when he hand writes it's not just slow but the quality is so much worse. He says this is because when he types he can do it at the same speed he's thinking but everything gets a bit jumbled when he has to slow down. His English teacher, for example, said that according to his homework and essays (all typed) he is looking at an A at GCSE without any trouble but when writing by hand he is looking at a B/C tops. I know it's incredibly early to be worrying about GCSE predictions because so much can change but I wonder if there's anything I can do to help him write to his potential by hand. Does anyone have experience of similar?

Thanks for any advice.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:56 pm 
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All I can suggest is plenty of practice I'm afraid.

About 10 of my pupils have the same problem (and my own DD). Handwriting can never keep up with the speed of thought. They just have to learn to organise their thoughts and practice their memory skills.

I allow a piece of scrap paper so they can jot down quickly a few key words which will help them remember what they wanted to put. This is useful for helping structure the writing too. Pupil J produces the most complex jottings with arrows in all directions, I said he should frame and sell them :wink:

Unfortunately, when a child finds they are faster at typing, they will always use that for preference. This means their typing continually improves while their handwritten work stagnates even further as they are never using it when typing is an option. The only solution in that situation is to reduce the times typing is an option. Keep a balance so that he does not lose his typing skills but practices handwriting his work more often to improve his thought organisation and speed there.

I have to say also, that despite their preferences, they all need to learn how to write fast by hand or they just will not get enough completed during their exams.
One of my Uncles marks Exam papers and says the biggest thing that lets pupils down is their writing, a) how easy it is to read - he cannot give points when he cannot read it and b) How much they can actually write in the available time. DU says it is quite shocking how much less current pupils seem to manage to record in comparison to those 20 years ago.
He and his colleagues get very frustrated by this because DCs are not getting the marks they deserve purely because of lack of practice in handwriting.
He believes, quite logically, that it is due to the prevalence of computer use. People forget how to handwrite clearly and fast.
This is not helped by many secondary schools encouraging word-processed assignments (they are not allowed to insist - that is illegal, but they certainly "strongly suggest").
As a side issue, he bemoans the deterioration in spelling from DCs who seem to rely on their computers' spellcheck most of the time (particularly when they absorb the American spellings which often come up).


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:58 pm 
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If handwriting is significantly slow then you can use a laptop in exams - but it has to be part of the usual provision for the child.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:05 pm 
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Yes
But surely Lassett's DS has high enough predictions even based on his handwritten work that no-one would be suggesting special need for a laptop to be his usual provision? I remember the struggle we had with the LEA to get a laptop for a pupil with a diagnosed syndrome that meant she could only write with a keyboard.

Notepaper and practice.

Oh, and I sometimes do dictation with my group to increase their speed.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:09 pm 
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No - GS pupils can use laptops for this.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Interesting. That would certainly be useful for my own DD.

Will they be able to always? And at Uni?

I think it wise to be skilled at both, as even without school considerations there are uses for both in the rest of your life.

While we are on handwriting, I have twins in my class whose writing has gradually shrunk. This week, I could not actually read their homework without a magnifying glass :lol:
My spellcheck thinks I have misspelt the emoticon :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Thanks to both of you.
Aargh of course you are right about the practise though I fear I have lost this battle already
Son: "Mum, tell me what job I'm even going to get where I will have to hand write important things"
Me: "Um..."
I will continue to encourage handwriting though despite my lack of argument, I appreciate your reply. Your Uncles points are what concern me so much especially because he will not be the only one to have noticed it but education is not going to change quickly enough to allow exams to be typed by everyone which is a shame. I don't think it is a particularly difficult thing to implement and I personally have a similar view to my son about the need for handwriting skills which probably means it is my fault but I won't go there... :oops:

Guest55, I am interested in your take on the use of laptops for exams. You say that GS pupils can use them, is this countrywide? Any idea how I can find out about it? I don't want to encourage him to have poor handwriting skills by giving him an excuse but I also don't want him to be penalised for it either. At my son's school virtually all of the children have laptops because the school run a scheme to provide them even to those of us who can't really afford it. As you say Aargh, they are encouraged (!) to type everything and most homework is done online as well as class work which makes it tricky as a parent to encourage hand writing at home.

I've just read that back and hope it doesn't come across as dismissive of your points Aargh, handwriting is important but the world/job market is very different to when many of us were at school and I am unsure how to encourage something he sees little point to but I really like your idea about jotting down the ideas and following it when writing and will try this out with him, thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:59 pm 
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aargh wrote:

While we are on handwriting, I have twins in my class whose writing has gradually shrunk. This week, I could not actually read their homework without a magnifying glass :lol:


Haha, this is very much like my other son who has always struggled with handwriting because of dyspraxia and so was encouraged by school to develop his own style which turned into a fancy script incredibly difficult to decipher. His teachers then had to ask him to read it to them. :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:04 pm 
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.


Last edited by Belinda on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:24 pm 
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Thank you Belinda, I honestly hadn't thought about all the things that he would still cover at school between now and then that would help him, instead my mind skipped to underachieving and feeling like a failure. I'm such a drama queen!

I will look up dysgraphia with interest thanks for that and it's lovely to hear that your daughter is doing really well at uni. I do wonder whether part of his dismissing the need for handwriting is to do with feeling bad about it. He has never been one to stick at something he feels he is no good at though we are gradually getting him to understand the importance of dedication with varying success. He was a very late reader and writer though now he reads all the time. Part of me also think he's just being a stroppy almost teen and deciding that his future holds nothing more than computers and technology.


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