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My son's writing is totally fine for his age. We are trying to teach him the many ways to improve his handwriting: Capital letters, tall/small/fall letters, full stop, spacing. And his creative writing: adjectives, conjunctions, sentence starters, etc.

We genuinely praise him every time he practises, which is every weekday. He does get fed up with our constant corrections, but he works hard and he has improved a lot. He says he "hates writing". He can write with tripod grip but keeps reverting back to a 4 finger grip which he says is more comfortable. I have not managed to convince him the tripod grip is better. He feels especially bad when he compares to some of his classmates writing.

sample of his writing

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  • Are you allowing him to stop writing at any time of his choosing and for as long as he wants? And if so, does he know you are allowing this? Feb 6 at 20:22

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Children are constantly in the process of acquiring new skills, so I always think it's helpful to espouse a growth mindset.

I don't think there's any harm in acknowledging that other kids writing is neater. Your child can easily recognize it, so they'll see right through any attempt to deny that. What matters - I think - is to not get caught up in whether a child can or cannot perform a task well, but about the effort put in to master a skill. "Yes, I can see your friends are writing really neatly, they must have practiced doing that quite a lot."

Remind him of skills he has acquired, and how he wasn't always so good at that. Riding a bike, perhaps? Reading. Talk to him about how it once seemed impossible, but through practice, now is little effort at all.

He'll have little interest in what's adequate for his age. He sees that this is something he has not mastered. Acknowledge that, because you can't fool him, but focus on the process. Show him any old writing of his if you have anything saved, and show him what progress he's already made. Tell him that you too once had handwriting like that, that everybody once has, and that through hard work, he'll soon be able to write really neatly with little effort.

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Frame challenge here: how about teaching him to type?

Both my son and I struggled with handwriting; we're both dyspraxic, although that wasn't understood when I was young. I'm also left handed, which made it even more difficult. My writing has always been scrappy and uneven. My son is grown up now, but he still can't do joined-up handwriting.

Learning to type made a huge difference for both of us. No more struggling with pens (leaky fountain pens were the bane of my childhood) or pencils that pushed through the paper, or hands that became sore from being forced into unnatural positions for hours on end. Also the pure mechanics of moving the pen or pencil take a lot of mental bandwidth away from the words that you want to write. Now the words just flowed from our heads through the keyboard and on to the screen. If you make a mistake, just backspace.

Before typing became an option my Mom used to take dictation from me, which I would then copy out. Later I got a dictation machine so I could separate the composition from the act of writing. Both of these things helped a lot.

Things have moved on a lot since then. Writing is still inevitable, but schools and exam boards are increasingly accepting of special needs such as dyspraxia. Large pieces of work such as projects can increasingly be typed rather than hand-written.

There are a number of typing courses available; we got our son on one at primary school (I think he was about 10), but there is no reason why you can't start earlier. A small portable keyboard may work better than a full-sized one.

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That writing is great for a six year old - it's not fine, it's well above what I would expect at that age. It's better than my kids' writing, at 7 and 9! Hating writing is a common issue at that age, because it is hard, and it's combining a bunch of things together. It sounds like you've done a great job teaching him in order to get that far.

We haven't had total success with our kids on this front, but what success we've had has mostly been when we don't try too hard on "structured" writing, and spend more time with "unstructured" - in particular, my kids play Pokémon cards, and sometimes they'll make up new Pokémon and make a card for them, or even my older (9) will make an entirely new card game based on something else, and make a bunch of cards. Those they'll happily do, and write a ton for - it's just a matter of finding something that is fun to write.

Formal writing, or even what you have above, is good to practice also, but it's less fun and a lot more work, given how many words you're having to put out. You also might want to worry less about the corrections for now; as his fine motor skills grow, he'll get better at it, and regular corrections can make him feel like he's bad at it even when he's not. Try to spend more time just letting him write without corrections, purely praise his results. That way he'll build up confidence in it!

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