10 tips to help reluctant writers thrive

10 tips to help reluctant writers thrive

Is your child aged four or older and refusing to write or make a mark?

Are they a reluctant writer? 

Does it feel impossible to settle them down into a space ready to start?

Is it frustrating you?

Is it frustrating your student/child?

We bet that if you are reading this post you have answered yes to at least one of the above questions - if not all of them!

Our Occupational Therapist has put together this list of her top 10 tips for reluctant writers - practical tasks you can do anywhere with minimal equipment - to help engage and encourage the child’s confidence when making their mark.

Especially designed for use with CRATE Resources worksheets but formulated to work in all kinds of situations.

  1. Warm up the sitting muscles (core) by using play-based activities – make it fun, let the child choose from activities such as; navigating an obstacle course, swinging (on a swing, not the chair!), jumping on a trampoline, a game of hopscotch.

  2. Warm up the small muscles in the hands  - great ways of doing this include rolling play dough, digging in the sandpit, pushing/pulling toys through the sand.
  3. You don't always need to sit. Try using different positions. If the child is reluctant to sit at a desk, try lying on their tummy to support the body, or taping a piece of paper to a vertical surface and standing up. These different positions engage the muscles used for sitting (core) and encourage good shoulder stability and wrist extension.

  4. Use large crayons. Have a go at using large crayons. Try round ones that fit into the palm, they are fun to use as well as being much easier for small hands to grasp.
  5. Demonstrate and make mistakes. By demonstrating our own errors we can teach our children that it's ok to make mistakes, using phrases such as “oops I went out of the lines, that's ok, let me try again” help to reinforce that is is ok to give something a go, and to keep trying.

  6. Provide encouragement. Encourage children and praise their attempts. Willingness to participate is the most important thing at this age and children can easily be deterred by negative feedback or lack of praise. 

  7. Progress slowly.  What may feel easy to us as adults can be a whole new world to a child. Make sure not to progress too quickly, start by introducing a basic outline eg Colouring in for 2-3yo.

  8. Work in order. We suggest using our Graphomotor worksheets in the following order for the best results; 
  • Horizontal lines 
  • Vertical lines
  • Diagonal lines
  • Dot-to dot
  1. Practice changing tools. Encourage children to use different colours, or types of writing tools, this gives children practice picking up and putting down their pencil/crayon.

  2. But, don't interrupt the flow! If the child is engaged and making their mark, use a number of worksheets before asking them to change colours or move onto another task.

Above all, try to keep it light and fun! Children will create fond memories of these activities and be more likely to engage regularly when they enjoy themselves. Don't forget we all have bad days, sometimes it's just best to pack it away and go outside to play!

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