My son can't draw or write well!

by Jessica
(Syracuse, ut)

My 5 year old son can tell you his birth-date, the abc's, count to twenty and tell you all the shapes. However drawing the shapes or anything looks like a 2-3 year old. He just can't write. I don't know if he is just not able to focus on what he is doing or what. I am making him use his right hand now since he was using both 50/50. I would do all the test to see which Hand he would start with and he would use his left one day then his right the next.

He starts kindergarten this fall. I'm worried he will be so far behind or labeled as not smart. I had him tested with the school's early development center. He tested above where he should be in all areas but he was way behind in his fine motor skills. Since he did well in the other areas they won't do anything. They gave me some helpful advice but I really am worried. He is great at riding bikes and in fact races so it really is just his fine motor skills. Any advice or am I just over worrying? I am doing worksheets and having him hold his crayons correctly everyday now.

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Helping your son to write
by: OT Mom

I am glad you had your son tested - that helps us to know exactly where the problem is, or isn't.
Did he score okay on the test of visual-motor integration? Because that is one area that came to mind as I read about your son's difficulties. If they did not do the test, I wonder if you could request that the test be done?

To help your son learn to draw and write, you would need to separate the 2 areas of fine motor skills and learning to form the letters. (Read my article about this.) That article will give you ideas for fun ways of getting your son to practice letters and numbers without stressing over pencil-and-paper work. Try to not work on paper with crayons for a while. I would recommend that you start with patterns and simple shape pictures (triangles, circles, squares to make houses, rockets etc) - you draw the outline in chalk or whatever and let him trace over and over to get the hang of the actual formations.

Then, to help with his fine motor skills, I would take a huge step back from anything to do with a crayon and paper, and work on developing hand strength (lots of scissor cutting and playdough) as well as hand and finger exercises with fun activities. You can find the links to lots of photographed Fine Motor Activities on this page of my site.

Riding a bike is a great exercise, but kids also need to develop their shoulder and core muscles, as bike riding focuses more on the lower body. Kids with fine motor delays usually struggle with poor shoulder and core stability. Check out these easy shoulder exercises for kids that you can do at home, as well as core exercises. I would also make sure his midline crossing is good to help eliminate his swapping hands with activities. It may just be that his hands are tiring with his weak hand muscles, or it may be a midline crossing issue. So try some activities for crossing the midline as well.

I hope this helps. It sounds like you are a concerned mom who wants the best for her son, and you are taking all the right steps to help him! Hang in there, and work on the underlying skills, and in a few months he should be much better at writing and drawing on paper.

by: Jessica

Thanks so much! I will do those things for sure. I know they tested many things but I don't know if that was one of them. He was suppose to test at an 85 or higher and he tested 104 on one and 98 on the other but only 74 on his motor skills. They didn't give me the form so I don't know what they were. They only gave me the letter telling me what they were concerned about.

Same problem
by: Anonymous

I'm having the same exact problem with my Son he's very Smart but he can't write or draw.😢now his teacher sending notes home

Helping kids learn to write and draw
by: OT Mom

Hi Anon,
Why not check out my page of
visual motor integration activities and see if these can help your son get the hang of writing and drawing?

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