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How to motivate kindergartner?

I have a 5 year old son who is beginning "real" home school curriculum in a week. We have been doing pre-school on our own for two and a half years. Now that we are getting to where his work needs to be done and evaluated by someone outside our home, I need some advice. He hates to work on his handwriting. He will procrastinate and dawdle for an hour, regardless of bribes of rewards for a finished lesson or threats of consequences for not doing his work. It does not matter if he is given just his name to trace or a page of words or numbers, so I do not think it is because it is either too difficult or too easy. He can write all is letters and numbers, but after not having him practice with tracing for a few days, his handwriting becomes illegible. He loves doing workbook pages, reading and flash cards, and is a very visual learner. But 80% of the time will not do his handwriting work. We do live in a small house with two younger siblings, but we do our best to keep him in a separate room where it is quiet for him. I have tried sitting with him and encouraging him along the way, I have tried leaving him in his room to do the work on his own, but what works one day does not the next. Help? This is so far the only subject we are constantly butting heads on, and I am stressing out on how to motivate him to do his work come next week.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
erinmdmd
Aug. 16th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
ugh, I hate when kids do this to us!

Have you tried asking him what he hates the least about the process? Explaining that you are frustrated and you want his help figuring out how to make this work for you both. Sometimes my daughter has nothing new to suggest but feeling like she is part of a team helps her be less of a PITA about whatever she happens to be hung up on.

Other suggestions: have him write on a white board, with new materials (pastels, shiny new markers, crayons, colored pencils, pens, gel pens, chalk) on a variety of materials (wood, textured paper, cardstock, slate, etc). Have him do silly copywork- my daughter gets a thrill out of "naughty" sometimes, like writing "poop" or copying a snetance that involves her little brother doing something bad, or going with a theme of interest (fairy, flower, wand, crown, dress).

Does he like to color? The fine motor skills involved in staying in lines/coloring neatly is related to the fine motor skills necessary for writing. Printing cool coloring sheets has helped us in the past.

Sometimes when we're really butting heads over things, I shelve it for a week or month. We're not behind her school-going peers at all, and I doubt you are with what you know he *can* do, but the break can give the bad feelings a chance to dissipate. Good luck!
snuck
Aug. 16th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Great ideas from erinmdmd there.

Other thoughts are instead of handwriting letters/words what about shapes - if the point is to do the fine motor control and pen handling - mix it up and have him tracing and drawing his favourite animals, silly words, tracing around different items etc.

If you put paper against the window you have a light table effect - maybe he could trace things on the window?

Use different types of pens/markers. Write with sticks in mud etc.

Isn't one of the best things about homeschooling the fact that you can tailor to the individuals needs instead of forcing them to do it the 'normal' way :)
sashura
Aug. 17th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
May be it will work better, if he knows WHY he is doing this? If he likes to draw, you can ask him to right his name on all of his drawings, new and old ones, so that you know that this was done by him and not mix it in few years with his siblings. If his siblings are old enough to draw, he can start writing their names as well.

Are there any realtives or friends you can ask to send him a handwritten letter or even a postcard? Then to send one back he can copy an address on the envelope.

Shopping lists - prepare one yerself, read it to him and ask him to add any one item that he wants. Sure, you will have to spell it out for him but he still will have to write it.

May be it will work better, if he knows WHY he is doing this? If he likes to draw, you can ask him to right his name on all of his drawings, new and old ones, so that you know that this was done by him and not mix it in few years with his siblings. If his siblings are old enough to draw, he can start writing their names as well.

Are there any relatives or friends you can ask to send him a handwritten letter or even a postcard? Then to send one back he can copy an address on the envelope.

Shopping lists - prepare one yourself, read it to him and ask him to add any one item that he wants. Sure, you will have to spell it out for him but he still will have to write it.

Another thing - dates. On any worksheets that you do (math, science, ...) have him write his name and date as you go along. Why? Because if you ever have to show anybody his work, it needs to be dated, so that everybody knows that he worked every day and did not scip school. Yes, in your state this might not be needed, but I don't think your son knows that :)
katatonic_state
Aug. 17th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
Could be the age. Some kids are all about writing at this age and some just aren't. Thankfully, I never had this problem with DD, but I do have friends who have had (or still having) issues with their kids. For some, it's a perfectionism thing -- the child can't do it perfectly so therefore won't do it at all (or without a hee-yuge fight).

Stuff that I've seen work...
- Take a page out of the Montesorri handbook and create big letters for him to trace with his finger. Use some sort of texture -- sandpaper, or something fuzzy. Practicing big with just his finger will get him more comfortable with the shapes involved in making the letters.
- The suggestion to get him coloring is a good one. Crayola.com has a bunch of coloring sheets with the letters on them.
- I've heard really good things about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum
- Typing =might= help. Yes, he still needs to learn how to write and you should definitely be working on that, but for other things (like small writing assignments), you might want to consider letting him type it on a computer. I had one friend succeed with this approach while her kiddo got more comfortable with writing. I had another who ran into a big problem because their kid couldn't quite get the hang of the keyboard.

It's possible that he just isn't quite ready to do it yet. Kids hit these milestones at different times. I would say that if it's a huge issue, you might want to get him evaluated and make sure there isn't some underlying problem that's making writing difficult for him. Anything from fine motor issues to vision processing to some forms of dyslexia and dysgraphia will make writing extremely difficult. And the issues may not really manifest themselves clearly in other ways.

Good luck!
tmsj
Aug. 17th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC)
It could be a couple of different things. It could be immature motor skills or a learning disability known as "dysgraphia." I have a son that was enthusiastic about schoolwork, except when it came to any written work. It is a common disorder, usually not diagnosed this young and often seen in boys who are visual learners. My son will be 20 in two weeks and he can just now write legibly, but it looks like the work of a 2nd-grader. OTOH, he owns his own company and is doing just fine.

I understand your concern at showing a finished product to an evaluator, but you can relax. (I sure wish someone had told me that when my kids were your son's age.) It is okay for him to dictate his work, either into a tape recorder or to have you write it down for him. He may find it easier to type his work on a keyboard. I would avoid putting pressure on him to actually write at all at this point. I would wait to see if he volunteers to write on his own within the next few years and consider having him evaluated for a learning disability if you feel he still isn't writing properly by the time he's about 8.

Some folks have had success with "Handwriting Without Tears." I was also told that things like calligraphy and knitting help train the brain and muscles for writing. Dysgraphia may or may not include poor motor skills. In my son's case, his motor skills are perfectly fine, but there's some sort of short-circuit when it comes to his brain telling his hand how to write. It was extremely frustrating to him as his mind was full of ideas that he could never translate to paper.

Best wishes to a happy & successful homeschooling year.



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"A homeschooling parent in Canada recently sent me a letter which ended with a quote by Roque Dalton: 'May we keep hauling up the morning.' I like the metaphor of a sailing ship upon the sea for parenthood and for homeschooling. There are no completely reliable charts, and so we must often navigate without them. We must learn for ourselves how to find the currents, avoid the reefs and storms, and enter the harbors. As we haul up the sails to go on sailing, so we haul up the morning for the adventures of each successive day. There is room for everybody on this ocean, and there is no pilot's license required or worth having. We must trust ourselves and our children. May each of us keep hauling up the morning."

-Earl Gary Stevens, Home Education Magazine, 1990