Encouraging boy’s to write 16

My boys are like chalk and cheese, as I have said before.  Maxi was writing by age three, whereas, Mini really doesn’t enjoy mark making or writing.  He is a perfectionist and gets upset that it doesn’t look like he thinks it is supposed to, this isn’t helping in mu opinion with the school teaching cursive handwriting from Reception.

Up to now this hasn’t been an issue for him, but it is really starting to get him down and also to hold him back.  Why you ask?  Well he knows all his letters and sounds and is a great phonic reader, but he is so reticent about writing that the school refuse to move him up for lessons, so he is disruptive.

So I have dug out my arsenal to encourage him to start drawing and mark making.  I am not concerned in myself, as I know that boys fine motor skills develop later than girls and that he will get there, but I don’t like the fact that he feels bad about his writing.

So here are my top tips

Make it fun, it doesn’t have to be pen on paper, we have been using cream on a tray and writing him name with his fingers.  You can do the same with sand, shaving cream, gloop (cornflour and water) or seeds.

Take a stick and make large marks in the sand or mud.  Mini loves drawing faces and then jumping all over them on the beach.


Colouring in and doodling.  Mini loves to colour, but he doesn’t have a great attention span, so I try and make sure that he enjoys the subject or that it is linked to a creative activity.  It also doesn’t have to be just with pens, crayons and pencils.  Try using chalks or pavement paints or even water on walls.


Both boys love secret messages and you can do this using wax relief with a candle or white crayon or with a special notebook.  The boys have a Phineas and Ferb secret notebook and pen and they love it, they love sending secret messages to each other.


Then there are the electronic method, this is an image Mini drew of me for The Me meme at Sticky Fingers, I was tagged by the wonderful Rosie Scribble.  Sally has a Dell Inspiron One to review and both the boys really enjoyed it, but it was such fun watching Mini use it to write and colour.   Also out this week is a tablet for the Wii called uDraw which I would love to use with the Mini as he, like most boys loves anything electronic.

If anyone has any other tips I would love to hear from them.

16 thoughts on “Encouraging boy’s to write

  • The Real Supermum

    My 7 year old son Cameron detests writing. I have had huge problems with him over this last year, especially when it comes to homework. He can tell me the answer but refuses to actually write anything. Like you I have tried to make writing as fun as possible, we did the chalking (much to the upset of the neighbours). He has got much better the last few months and the school are brilliant with him. If its hands on or reading and speaking its fine, its when he actually has to put words on to paper he struggles.

    Oh yes the DSI is a favourite in our house too. Although he would much rather play Spiderman.

  • Rosie Scribble

    Great suggestions, Jen. Love the idea of pavement paints and drawing in the sand. Making it fun has to be the answer. Love Mini’s picture of you! Very creative x

  • Jude

    Love the portrait! Also like the idea of the Phineas & Ferb secret notebook. My elder son hates writing too, and the younger one just refuses to hold his pen properly, thus making life more difficult for himself, but like you, I’m not overly worried about either and it hasn’t caused any problems yet.

  • Apryl

    Your Comments H is the same, he is seven and hates writing. They have done ‘slide ups’ a form of cursive from reception and H has never gotten along with writing. I mostly put it down to his being a boy. He is clever, loves reading (he is at the top of his class) but writing and drawing have never been fun for him. we have lots of note books and he has been drawing in them a bit more and I always make sure that there is a brand new notebook every time we travel to the states.

    He over thinks what he is supposed to write and gets stressed out that he will write something wrong so will mess about in class and get easily distracted. He has been trying more lately and we have tried to stress that there is no wrong way to write… I think school stresses too much that they all must write to the same ability and H is just not ready to write big paragraphs to answer questions. Though he does have verbal diahorrea and never shuts up so we know the words are there he just struggles to funnel his thoughts down on paper.

  • Sara Diana

    Your Comments My sons were the same. I loved reading to my eldest but my youngest would destroy books in frustration. I later discovered that he was autistic and struggles with communication in all forms. He is 9 now and his vocabulary is fantastic but he still struggles to read and write. Its hard to hold pens etc.

    Not saying this is the case for you but you can do other things to help him draw and write such as getting him to play with playdough – doing this strengthens the hands to prepare them for writing. There are lots of other hints and tips I was given. This is why PLAY is more important for young children than structured lessons.

  • Wendy

    Your Comments Many schools start cursive writng from reception nowadays. I was told it is supposed to help with spelling.
    The problem is I think that schools are so obssessed with targets and being seen to be the best children are being pressurised into formal schooling too early. So the hand writing box has to be ticked. What they forget is that manual dexterity is not acheived at the same age in all children. It makes me so annoyed and does nothing for self esteem.
    I get really cross when left handed children are ‘t allowed to slant their page and as I am left handed the left handed children I teach are allowed to have the page in the most comfortable position for legible writing.

    Some of my best boy story writers have had the worse writing.

    It sounds as if you are doing all the right things with your boys but I don’t know how you convince the school he should move up!

  • Michelle Twin Mum

    Fabulous that you are making practice fun for him. I wish school were able to challenge children in the way appropriate for them. My 7 year old is also disruptive (in terms of constant question asking and calling out) as he is too bright for much of the curricula taught.

    Mich x

  • claire

    My childminder went on a course where she was told that boys dont have as well developed muscles for colouring and writing skills as girls. The teacher suggested that before we did any of the mark marking stuff we get the boy to windmill his arms and warm them up a bit and try to build the muscles up. This has actually proved miraculous and really helps…

  • Susan Mann

    Excellent post thank you. I’ve been thinking about ways to encourage Lucas to write. He writes what he thinks look like letters but they don’t. I’ve tried using the books where they go over the dashes with a pen to make the letters but he gets bored. I’m going to try pavement chalks. xx

  • Julie

    I think you are quite right not to rush and pressurise him – it’ll all fall into place in the end (altho’ frustrating if that’s becoming a reason to hold him back at school). I actually wish my Finn’s P1 teacher had placed more emphasis on getting writing right as his handwriting isn’t good and he wan’t encouraged to work at it at school in that first year – I do what I can at home but it helps if the school supports too! juliex

  • Helen

    I love this post, Jen. I’m having to think differently about the way my second daughter tackles everything. My eldest, 8 was a stereotypical girl in that she loves writing, being neat, colouring for hours and Vi, 4 has been such a surprise. I will definately look at practical fun ways for us to write and learn – starting tomorrow. In the meantime, any tips on getting a 4yo to learn the word, you? 🙂

  • Sally Walters

    Your Comments Great post! Exactly the same situation with my 7 year old son, although he is 8 next month and we do seem to have turned a corner. He loves comics, reading books and generally making up stories with his little figures. I’ve encouraged him to write his own comic (as I did when I was his age!!) He’s seen my old tatty efforts and is now keen to make his own. He knows his hand writing isn’t great and that used to get him down, but if he’s doing a task he enjoys he seems to forget out it. You’re right – make it fun and it doesn’t feel like ‘homework’.

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