I think a lot of us have this kid in our classrooms or on our caseload. He may be cooperative and willing to work on most tasks but the second he even sees a pencil that may hint at a writing task he is escape behavior city. Some kids find writing SO aversive. Your formerly sweet, hard working little man is suddenly hiding under the table. Let’s put our behavior hats on for a second. What is this behavior telling us? It’s telling us that our student does not like to write. This may be because he isn’t good at it (and let’s face it – it sucks doing things you aren’t good at) or maybe his learning history has conditioned writing as an aversive task. Maybe his last teacher was a drill and kill you will leave my classroom writing your name type teacher and creating this immense anti-writing complex in this little guy. If you have a student like this, it’s time to scale back. You’ve got a little bit of back peddling to do. You have to go back to your chocolate chip cookie roots (if you don’t get this reference read here) and make writing a chocolate chip cookie. You need to make writing a fun, engaging, and interactive activity to get that buy in back.
So let’s take some of the rules away for now. Don’t worry about correct pencil grip. Don’t worry about staying within the lines. Make it fun. The goal here is not improving writing skills. The goal is removing whatever the aversiveness related to writing is.
Switch it up!
Try writing in shaving cream, in rice, or in finger paint. Color, draw, or trace with dry erase markers, crayons, markers, paint, and everything else you can get your hands on. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to figure out what your kid prefers. Some kids really excel and enjoy using dry erase markers as opposed to pencil and paper. Do some experiment to figure it out!
Copy pictures is one of my favorite activities to work on. It targets spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and tons of important pre-writing concepts but is still fun! You can start basic with different colored shapes and transition to more and more complex pictures!
Make it routine.
When you get back to some paper and pencil writing, make it part of the routine. Things that we do everyday give us practice to improve and the consistency removes any surprise factor that your kids may not enjoy. Incorporate writing into morning routine or daily independent work.
Add in some structure.
Add in som visual cues like small boxes or boxes that correspond with the length of word or shape or letter to cue students in on where their writing should go. This will help kids be more successful!