Trivium Pursuit

Survey: Ten-Year-Old Boys and Holding Pencils

I was wondering what you might suggest as a course of action for a ten-year-old boy who despises handwriting. While I understand that some of this is just the age, I’m not sure if I should continue to require writing and if so, how much. It’s a very tedious process often ending in frustration and tears. His handwriting is actually pretty good, but he hates cursive and would rather print as cursive takes “so much longer.” Currently, I require one page of italics lesson – it’s very brief and averages about 8-10 words/letter combinations, 1-2 sentences of copywork, and whatever writing is required in the Understanding Writing and grammar curriculum (a lot of grammar we do orally). Narrations are done orally and occasionally on the computer. Letters to friends and family are also done on the computer. Thus far this year we have been of the opinion that practice makes perfect and thereby easier. All opinions and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance. Laura in NV

The question is: My ten-year-old boy hates anything to do with writing — how much actual time per day should I require him to hold a pencil (art, handwriting, workbooks, composition, math, etc.)? Let’s take a survey. How much time per day does your ten-year-old boy spend holding a pencil?

7 Responses to “Survey: Ten-Year-Old Boys and Holding Pencils”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I have a 12-year-old boy who hates writing and a 9-year-old boy who loves it. They are both doing cursive in handwriting. Our older son wanted to learn cursive in second grade since he didn’t like manuscript, but now he likes to print rather than write cursive. He only writes cursive when he’s doing his handwriting book. Our 9-year-old is learning cursive this year, so he still prints as well.

    They spend maybe an hour or two a day holding a pencil. We bought some pencil grippers this year, which seems to help with holding the pencil properly without holding it too tightly.

  2. Cheryl Says:

    Sometimes it can be an actual learning disability. I am not saying this is the case with your child, but if you have worked with him over the years and seen his struggle and distaste or it just distaste grow? then you might want to consider some academic testing or even just teaching him a very marketable skill~typing. The “war” may not be worth the victory in the end if bitter feelings and an angry heart are developed. I feel your pain, and having dealt in a similar issue, literacy with the ability to write legibly was far more important to me with, of course a nice signature, than fulfilling requirements of an educational process that may not be in a way, best suited. Teach him to “sign his name” well, and type. Do oral as much as you can and then give him a fun typing program. Just a few ideas that may help your boy~and I know math isn’t done on the computer. Maybe this is his HUGE handwriting assignment each day… I had to use vertical lines to keep spacing correct with both numbers in math and letters in writing~there’s actually paper with these lines on it from Meade. Hope this helps. blessings. Sorry, but to answer to question: I have an almost 14 year old son who writes everything now because I laid off a few years ago and allowed some oral answers and allowed the skill to build. We are now working on dictation skills…longer sentences, larger words that are in his vocabulary. Overall, he writes about an hour a day at most. If I can’t read it, he goes back (This is GREAT motivation!). I had to train him to the appropriate side of the paper. . .as well as letter spacing, letter height and more…I gave him typing lessons, but at present he only uses them sparsely…but these will be “beefed up” soon in that I am going to require more typed work. The requirements are for HIM, as he can do without being overwhelmed and going into meltdown… God bless!

  3. Jessica Says:

    Our son will be ten next month. He holds a pencil for 30-60 minutes, 4 days per week.

  4. Nikki Says:

    My 10yo boy doesn’t like to write either. We do a lot of oral work. Somedays he is “in the zone” and he writes well, and other days every letter is an agonizing chore. He prefers cursive because he has recognized that he can do it faster, and it looks more “grown-up”. He typically does one page of his handwriting book, and/or copies a Bible verse or a few sentences each day. Spelling words once a week. Math is also affected by his writing. On a good day, he can write his numbers legibly in the spaces provided, other days he is all over the place and he can give me the answer orally, but to write the answers will take him hours. This is the first year I feel we’ve actually made progress and there are fewer tears with writing. I have hope!

  5. Heather Says:

    My son is 11 and has always hated writing. With one exception — when he’s doing something for his own enjoyment, (making a cartoon or something) he will write without complaint. However, even then he doesn’t write in copious amounts.

    We have tried many different approaches and programs through the years, all with the “practice makes perfect” intention. More recently, however, I’ve come to realize that it’s likely better to view this as a physical limitation, not just a lack of practice.

    I’ve been reading about muscle weakness in the hand and torso. I had always assumed that wouldn’t be our situation because he’s a competitive gymnast and very strong. But it’s a different kind of strength, as it turns out. He gets tired very quickly when sitting still and writing, in his back, neck, and hand. He also grips his pencil incorrectly and has very messy handwriting.

    Any writing that needs to be done for schoolwork, he abbreviates and shortens and ‘cheats’ to make it as brief as possible. I don’t think he’s written a complete paragraph yet in his entire life.

    Some things that are helping: Pencil grips were like torture devices for him (he insisted they “hurt”), so we didn’t use them constantly. But eventually he was able to correct his pencil hold when I remind him – so that he can avoid having to use the plastic grip!

    Writing on an inclined surface. He was always choosing to sit leaning backwards with his knees up and his book upright, inches from his face. This is actually one of the signs of the muscle weakness. Writing on a flat book is too tiring on his muscles (at least until we get them strengthened) so I now let him write on an inclined surface instead of just flat on the desk. His writing is much, much neater!

    We switched to Penny Gardner’s Italics program, and started from the very beginning. He’s still not great, but it’s improving, and at least he’s trying to do these ones correctly, which is an improvement…

    We’ve started incorporating muscle-strengthening and balance exercises. They’re fun and he enjoys them.

    I would say that on the average my son holds a pencil for 2 hours a day, including all his writing-based schoolwork (which isn’t much) and math, and drawing.

    I’ll also say that I wish I had known and understood about Charlotte Mason and similar philosophies, and expected less writing and more oral narration from him when he was younger. I probably didn’t help by pushing him too hard before he was old enough to understand why writing was important to learn — even if just the basics.

  6. Homeschool Trenches − a homeschooling carnival – March 24, 2010 Says:

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