It was a post on Facebook that caught my eye. Fellow blogger and fellow mum-of-teen-son-facing-GCSEs-in-the-not-too-distant-future, Kate of Striking Mum, wrote that she was worried that her son wouldn’t get the GCSE results he was capable of due to his handwriting.
She could have been writing about my son.
I have battled those same concerns for nearly 10 years now.
My son’s handwriting was first highlighted as a problem by his year 1 teacher. She was concerned he wouldn’t do well in his SATs. He was 5 years old, for flip’s sake! I thought she was worrying unnecessarily.
But things didn’t improve.
His year 2 teacher tried extra handwriting practise. We tried extra handwriting practise.
Unfortunately the material for handwriting practise are aimed, at best, at year 3s. When your child is in year 6 or year 7, he doesn’t want to be writing that stuff.
His teachers raised it as a concern with me. I raised it as a concern with them.
I thought it would improve with time.
I blamed it on his left-handedness. Nobody in my family is left-handed. I don’t understand it, but I understand it makes things that little bit harder.
And still it didn’t improve.
Sometimes his teachers were more concerned than me. Sometimes I was more concerned than them.
I blamed it on his laziness or carelessness.
And it wasn’t just his handwriting. It was his spelling and his grammar. It was the amount of words he got down on the page (not many at all).
My son is a bright boy, yet his work wasn’t reflecting that at all.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I think he will get two grades lower in his GCSEs than he is capable of, purely down to his handwriting. That is a sad and worrying prospect. He’s going to be starting out at a lower level than he should be. Everything will be an uphill battle – A Levels, degree (if he chooses to do one), getting a job…
We got him a tutor for an hour a week.
He didn’t want to go, yet he did very well. Handwriting that wasn’t immaculate, but was in a different ball park to any we’d ever seen before. He could do it! He could really do it!
But he only did it with his tutor. At school and in his homework, his handwriting was as appalling as ever.
So I knew exactly where Kate was coming from and she reminded me that it was time to do something about it. It’s gone on for too long, with me believing it will improve or change. With me nagging and encouraging, willing it to improve or change.
It is 16 months until his GCSEs.
My boy is a boy of few words. Sometimes he says things out of the blue that take me by surprise.
One day, just before Christmas, he said in passing, as though it was no big deal: ‘She’s the one who’s going to be scribing for my GCSEs’. WHAAAT? Scribing? That was the answer to all of our prayers. That way, he could actually fulfil his potential and get the grades he deserved.
But why? Nothing had been mentioned at the last parents’ evening, when I, once more, raised the issue of his writing.
Having a scribe seemed to be a pretty big deal. Had he been assessed for something? Had they actually found something wrong? And, if so, why hadn’t they informed me?
Back on Facebook, a blogger called Claire from Six Degrees of Harmony asked me had he been tested for dysgraphia?
He hadn’t. I’d never even heard of it. But I looked it up straight away.
It was my son! It was my son all over. It even said that children with dysgraphia have trouble tying their shoelaces. My son has never been able to tie his shoelaces (although of course he will claim he can).
Now I know why he can’t write. It’s not being left-handed. Or lazy. Or careless.
Yes, he needs testing, but I know that’s the reason.
I’m cross with myself for not doing more earlier, but I’ve tried. I always thought it would right itself in time. I guess the school should have picked it up too, but maybe they have?
I emailed the school to ask what the situation is with the scribe. Is that really happening, or has my son got confused? They will double-check and also look into getting him an assessment if he needs it.
It’s a bit late, but it’s not TOO late.
There’s 16 months until his GCSEs.