writing troubles
Paige T c
12 years ago
Do you have suggestions for a child who gets easily frustrated when writing? My daughter loves a story, and used to even love to write them, but now she gets tired and overwhelmed from the get-go. And loses her cool. I do emphasize ideas, not grammar/spelling, and offer to write down things for her. But even asking her to state things sometimes gets overwhelming for her. She says "you're stuffing my brain". I believe she feels that way, though I will say I don't say much. She has been diagnosed with ADHD, and we are working on ways to treat that...but outside those particular you have suggestions on how help her gain writing skills without her feeling so frustrated? Ug.
Rosemary N c
12 years ago
Hi Paige,

My son has similar issues as he has a creative brain but struggles to get the ideas down on paper. We took three months 'off from writing' late last year and tried to separate the creative process from the act of writing. This allowed him and me to chill out and as we both changed our expectations of what we would achieve a lot of the tension and frustration dissipated.

Overall we broke the creative writing process into small and separate components and we have focused on developing one at a time and not worrying about the other parts too much.

A couple of the things we did were:
- got really good at using the hamburger paragraph organiser and the story plot 'mountain'. To begin with we just focused on using it even if the sentences/ideas were small (this was even with me writing for him) until he started getting the idea of how they worked and now we work on developing deeper ideas. The Hamburger paragraph organiser can also be used to structure a simple story. Instead of each layer being a sentence they can be the idea for a paragraph.
- draw ideas and concepts. Use drawing to develop/represent ideas. This can be a little bit like brainstorming or could be as creative as a full blown illustration (he doesn't have the patience for that)
- use the whiteboard/large pieces of paper to record key words and ideas or to draw a concept. There's something about the whiteboard that means it is not as defeating as a blank sheet of paper!
- I even let him regurgitate ideas from books and stories sometimes. When his brain is stuck these familiar concepts are reassuring and they help lead into ideas of his own. Sometimes we write where ideas have to be our own and other times it's ok to use ideas of other authors so we can focus on getting more depth or longer sentences etc.
- We developed some computer skills by answering the questions from lessons online. This just put a different slant on writing production process
- We spend some time each day practicing spelling and letter shapes on the blackboard. A learning therapist tipped me off that one of his blockers was not knowing the letter shapes and letter order. Since we started this practice he is becoming more confident at writing because he doesn't have to think so hard about getting the letters down that he forgets his ideas.
- We dabbled with Dragon Naturally Speaking but it takes some time for the software to recognise your voice and speaking patterns. This is a goal for us in the next year but I let it go for now as I felt it was too distracting
- worked on visualisation. This is part of our spelling routine but we have also listened to audio books and then drawn an illustration (doesn't have to be from the book, just draw anything), retold stories in our own words, made up new endings, described things from memory/imagination using all of our senses and listened to guided meditation
- I also had him assessed by a developmental learning therapist and she has him working on therapy to help improve his writing and other learning skills. It has been a great help and also reassured me that he did have a writing problem and it was ok for me to make accommodations for him to get his work done.

I hope some of this helps. not all of this may apply to your daughter but it might give you some places to start. Learning to enjoy the writing process has been one of the most satisfying parts of our homeschool journey so far.

Kim H c e
12 years ago
Those are great ideas Rosemary.

When our son was younger, he had many of these same issues. He doesn't love writing now, but he is very good at it and the complaints are not nearly as intense as they used to be. He is one of those creative minds, and many creative kids want writing to be strictly a creative process. Instead, they have to deal with the technicalities involved in forming letters, detail to grammar, and organization. The good news is that creative kids can end up being some of the best writers.

Learning to type can also take some of the pressure off the writing process as well.

Like Rosemary mentioned, I would recommend taking the writing process slowly. Break it down into as many small steps as your child needs. Set up clear goals for each step and celebrate small victories along the way. It is easy for kids to become overwhelmed when they view the assignment as a whole, but they will feel much more confident and capable when it is broken down into one small step at a time.

Merit C c
12 years ago
My son also does not like to write. He is behind, but he has made some improvement. We started with some creative writing in a journal, but now we have moved onto an online blog. He does much better typing his ideas than writing with a pencil.
Paige T c
12 years ago
Hi Rosemary,
This doesn't go with this thread, but I think I remember you recommended a animal habitat game in the IdeaShare section. My son's 6th bday is coming up and I was thinking of getting it for him. I couldn't find the name of it (couldn't find it in IdeaShare) and wondered if you could send me the name and/or info on this game.

Thanks so much
Rosemary N c
12 years ago
Hi Paige,

It's called 'Menagerie' or sometimes listed as 'Australian Menagerie'. It's made by Wild Connections and they have a website, but I've not ordered it from them myself.

You can find it pretty easily in a Google search, seems to be plenty of online stores that stock it.

Start with the base game and maybe an expansion - once they've got it, they'll enjoy getting the other expansions, there's five in total.


Lindsey H c
11 years ago
WOW...glad to have found these suggestions. My son also used to like writing and now HATES IT. Used to love reading and is beginning to dislike it. We pulled him from school because his love of learning was turning into hating school. (one of many reasons we are homeschooling)

Anyhow, I stopped writing lessons and instead I give my son a journal and pencil and send him outside on a nature walk. I tell him he might see something he wants to document. He can just draw a picture of it if he wants or he can write a word about it if he wants. And most of the time he comes back in with something written down in his journal. But we call that lesson "nature walk/science" lessons...because if "writing" was in the title of that lesson, he would flat out refuse to do it.

I try to get him to 'color' more because that is still using those fine motor skills.

As well as doing MAZES, he loves MAZES and that practices basic writing skills.

I made a game he loves that practices fine motor skills. (I took a box and cut off the ends of it, so it's more of a rectangle tunnel/tube shape. Then I purchased several sized nuts & bolts at the hardware store. I unscrew all of them, put them in the box, and then he puts his hands in the box (can't see what he's doing) and he has to find all the correct matches and screw them together inside the box. So far he really likes this game and has no idea it's helping his hands/fingers get stronger and more ready for the task of writing. :)

He knows HOW TO write all his letters and he can sound out words, but for some reason he's not wanting to actually write them down in a formal lesson style. Which I'm learning from a book titled "better late than early" might just be how kids work and we push them a bit more then they are ready for.

Not sure how old everyone's children son just turned 6. So I'm not too worried yet about his writing ability. He's very creative and his talents will come thru in time. :)
Lindsey H c
11 years ago
Noticing no one has mentioned Dysgraphia. You can always rule that out, but worth looking into it before discounting it. :)
Kathy M c
10 years ago
Consider looking at She has a Brain Integration Therapy program that addresses and fixex 4 main glitches, one being a writing block. We have completed 30 weeks of this training at home for 3 of the 4 glitches she outlines and we see changes and fixing! Our kids are 9 and they have progressed more this yr than any other. Kathy
Joelle D c
8 years ago
Hi, I second Kathy, I had probably chosen a level of Moving Beyond the Page too low for my daughter because of the writing (She still enjoyed it a lot though). Since we are working on the Brain Integration exercises I have realized this and not only can I move my daughter one level up, but she is starting to write for pleasure. She is relieved that she is not "just lazy" and that "it can be fixed". It has taken a lot of pressure off her. The beauty of doing this while homeschooling is that you can lay a focus on something traditionally not part of the curriculum and sort particular issues out and you don't have to argue and haggle with any teacher!
Carolyn L c
8 years ago
I have a bright 10yrs old with same issues. Over the summer we did the 4 Square Writing Method and that helped her immensely. The graphic organizer is just four squares --the same 4 squares for each type of essay/prompt. Otherwise she is overwhelmed by too many types/choices and gets unbent with the different graphics and design. The 4 Square ---plain and simple.

I used this for all the kids who have used many different types of writing curriculum and they said this is the best for them. All of them have them helpful but this really clarified a lot of confusions. Wished I had started with this method first and then used other curriculums to help embellish it and provide different kinds of writing styles. This is perfect for the visual child.

The next helpful curriculum was IdeaChain by MindPrime. It really helped my child to see details more and make a mental picture of things to be able to explain to others.

We have used Dianne Craft. I used it many use years ago with my now 20yrs old son. It didnt quite work for him completely but every child is different.
Melanie H c
8 years ago
It's been a challenge to get my 7 year old son to write as well. He has not been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but he definitely has some tendencies... I have found that a cup of coffee in the morning is very helpful at taking the edge off of his reading/writing frustration (I used to work in pharmacy & this was old-school ritalin for hyperactive kids. His pediatrician said this is perfectly fine). We have great success with Roll-A-Story: . I noticed that he enjoyed the surprise of rolling different characters & plots, plus it helped that he was COPYING the first part of the story from the work sheet (this took a lot of frustration out of the writing process). I then asked him to close his eyes and picture the scenario (I would read the 3 parts of the story that he rolled and ask questions like, "What did it look like? Colors? Smells?" if he was struggling to come up with ideas) and add an original 1-5 sentences depending on how long I could get him to sit or stand in one place that particular day. You can have your child create his own sheet of characters & plots if he exhausts the story sheet provided. I have also found that asking my son to illustrate a picture first and then describe his picture in 3-5 sentences has been much easier that asking him to just write sentences. He seems more eager to tell me about a picture that he wrote than to just write for the sake of writing.
Kim M c
7 years ago
My son is 12 and has difficulty putting pen to paper, as well. He also has a diagnosis of ADHD. There is a website I've found,, that has a very gentle approach to writing. The philosophy is that parents and kids are partners in writing. Brave Writer has some online classes in which the instructor takes you, step-by-step, hand-holding included, through the process. We took Kidswrite Basic last year. I think that would be a good start for you and your daughter. We found it very helpful. Also available are courses you can use at home, on your own, with your child. If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt to just check out the website. It has so much information.
Kelly P c
7 years ago
My DD hated to write until we did the Andrew Padewa writing intensive - she knew all the components of a sentence: noun, verb, etc., but the way he taught it was funny and made sense for her. My DD is very "rules" based, so I think it worked well for her.
Faith M c
6 years ago
My son has a similar problem and I really appreciate the suggestions by Rosemary N. For my child, and maybe yours as well, a lot of the problem is perfectionism. He wants his writing to sound like that of the authors he loves, and when it's not "perfect", he feels ashamed. He has never been able to tell a story, but in the past, he's written extremely creative and imaginative stories and essays, which he is embarrassed to have anyone read. Because he was such a precocious reader and writer as a young child, his teachers (including me) gave him writing assignments that were overwhelming him. "Write a story about..." in his mind meant "Write a full length novel or feature length screenplay about..."

In addition to breaking the writing process down into teeny, tiny steps, I've started calling these assignments "gold star" projects. When he completes a teeny little writing assignment, he gets a gold star (he's eight) acknowledging that this is a very difficult task for him and takes a heroic effort. This seems to encourage him to keep trying, and to keep his standards within reason. He has a touch of autism, which includes some ADHD-like symptoms.
Megan B c
6 years ago
My son has ADHD and we have use a sensory cushion and a tens unit. Sometimes he listens to music (with headphones). With the cushion in his lap it pretty much gives him the feeling of being grounded and clears his head. The tens unit is extremely helpful for concentration for really rough days. (I've even used it to meditate :P )
EDIT** my son has ADHD combined and it is fairly severe. I'm lucky if I can get one sentence out of him on some days. These things are our alternatives to medication.
Faith M c
6 years ago
What's a tens unit?
Megan B c
6 years ago
It's a small handheld (some are larger) device with two cords that are attached to "paddles" (they're like small little fobs) and they vibrate. You can change the strength of the vibration and you can also change it to a pattern effect with fast or slower pulsing. So you put the paddle in one or both hands and it helps with memory recollection and focus. Some psychologists use them in therapy for children with learning disabilities or mental health disorders.
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