Buzz was struggling at school with writing. He is very articulate with speech, he reads really well, he loves to make up stories and play let’s pretend, his writing is neat and he has no trouble copying writing, but ask him to write a story or a thank you card and it’s as if he’s been asked to build a house from scrath. It is such a huge struggle even just getting started. These kinds of issues are one reason why we wanted to homeschool. There is a real, genuine struggle for him with writing and we don’t understand what it is, but at least having him home we can try to understand and work with him. At school there was always a sense of disappointment that he couldn’t write more, wouldn’t write more. At home he is rewarded for just a few words because I know how hard he has worked to achieve that. At school he had become very disheartened by the idea of writing because it had become such a struggle for him.
My aim is to reignite his enthusiasm by a) giving him a break from writing, b) letting him write when he has chosen to write, and c) working on the idea of little and often. I also want to get to the bottom of this particular struggle, how, why, what.
We were making thank you cards for his birthday presents. Buzz decided he wanted to make a little booklet inside his grandparents’ card, with three pages of writing (just like a card he had received). The desire was there, so I left him to it. I wish I had filmed his difficulty. He literally could not write a single word. I even told him how to start: “Just write Dear, I can spell it for you” and proceeded to spell it. He wrote D and that was it. He was restless and fidgety and seemed as if he was uncomfortable in his own skin. He was frustrated and angry with himself. I wasn’t forcing him to write. I wasn’t expecting anything specific of him. It was his idea so I left him to it. He spent a full half an hour struggling to write a single letter. He was pretty excited about his idea, but the words would just not come. I waited and waited to see if he would be able to do it eventually, I tried different things that I know have helped him to focus in the past such as playing classical music. Nothing. Except for the letter ‘D’.
In the end I suggested he just write a very simple “thank you” and leave it at that. He agreed (after some persuasion) and he suggested he draw pictures instead. Once he had made his mind up to keep it simple he was able to write, at last, with some encouragement to keep going. Then he happily drew pictures with complete focus and attention and enthusiasm.
Interestingly, when it came to the next card, I decided to see how he would manage writing if he was copying the words, so we decided together what he should write, then I wrote out the words on scrap paper for him to copy onto the card. Absolutely no problem whatsoever. All done in no time at all.
If anyone has any thoughts on this issue I’d be interested to hear them. When he is writing, it’s as if a bridge in his brain has been broken and he can’t get from one process (the thought) to the next (the writing).
Buzz is very bright, very enthusiastic, very confident, he has an impeccable memory, he speaks articulately, he reads well with great expression, he enjoys life, and this is all most people can see; but he also struggles a great deal, usually in silence, until he is in the safety of his own home where all his anxiety and fear and frustration comes tumbling out. I had to homeschool him because someone needed to try to understand how and why he struggles so much in certain areas of his life, in order for his needs to be met and therefore his potential to be achieved. I’ve learned so much since he came out of school at Easter but I still have a lot to learn.
Finally, here are pictures of the front of the cards we made using Hama beads. I love his design with the heart and the two colours.