Boys & Writing

Boys & Writing @Three Cornered Hug

“Boys just struggle more with writing. In fact I wouldn’t even try to put a pencil in a boy’s hand til he was 6, or maybe even older.”

This came from my grandmother, who was a retired teacher. The statement shocked me, but I took her word for it. There was nothing about kids that she didn’t understand.

For the next two months, when I did schoolwork with my reluctant writer, he told me the answers and I wrote. This way, frustration with lack of fine motor skills disappeared, and he zoomed ahead. One day, he asked me, “How come you never let me write anymore?” Boy, was I thrilled! “You can write…want to?” The rest is history. Well, sort of. We still have to do what we can to avoid
“Male Writing Fatigue Syndrome”.

After years of experience in this area, I thought I would share some of the things we’ve done to work around this very common problem.

For younger kids:

  • First of all chill out!
  • Find dotted fonts and print out pages with words based on a child’s favorite subject. For instance: my son has loved cars for years, so we printed out pages with car names on them. We would talk about the cars as he traced the dots. For your child, you may use the names of the engines on Thomas, or Spiderman related things. Even if he can’t read them all yet, he’ll like it if you tell him what it says.

Here are some fonts you might choose from:

KG Primary Dots (
Dotness (
LL Dot (
BP Dots (found at Font Squirrel)

  • When my son was little, his grandma got him a doodle toy very similar to this. I would say a glow writing app on an ipad would do a similar job if you have one.
  • Get a dry erase marker and let him write on your mirror.
  • Oddly enough, sometimes just an interesting type of paper may spark interest. A friend of ours worked at a printing company, and gave us a whole box of different papers. Some were just thick like index card stock, and some had textures or were colored. This really sparked an interest in writing and drawing at our house.
  • If you are a homeschooling mom, one of the biggest advantages you may have is the time and ability to do schoolwork one on one with your child. While you need to make sure that he can form letters, and learn proper punctuation as he gets older, do as much work as you can orally. This may mean, for instance, writing only during Spelling and English, and answering questions for science and other subjects orally.

For older kids:

  • The advice directly above still applies. We write out in nice proper sentences with properly formed letters for some subjects. For others we may do the work orally or even use a dictation app or something similar to get words down quickly and efficiently and then print them out.
  • IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is a wonderful writing curriculum for boys. Very engaging. We have changed it up a little, however. If the paper is written right with all the proper elements the first time, there’s no need to write several drafts.
  • If your child has other interests you may be able to incorporate writing with those. For instance, my son loves to draw up his own maps (hello Tolkien!) and although he may write sloppy at other times, I notice that he’s very careful to write the names on the maps nicely. Same for drawing comics, or names on concept car and plane plans. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful writing he applies to these, and try to encourage it!

Hopefully, this will be enough to get started. If you have any other ideas- please submit to comments.


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