I'm so thrilled to read all of your thoughts and suggestions! Thank you so much. Lace: I will look into the books you mention as/if we need them. I think we have a lot of common and would love to hear what you discover as you journey through this. IEF: I think I am going to cut out "your daughter's ability to express herself in written language does not belong to her future employers or her teachers" and paste it on my wall. That is very true--and I'm a writer and writing teacher myself, so you think this would be easy for me, right? The big challenge with my child is her lack of automatically with handwriting. How do you teach grade-level composition skills--and the enjoyment of writing--to a child who is physically uncomfortable with handwriting, who has already had such a negative experience with it, and who has to do such an extraordinary amount of work to overcome it? (By "extraordinary work" I mean we're encouraging printing and she does cursive tutoring and uses a typing program--Disney's Mickey's Typing Adventure for anyone who is interested.) People who do not have a dysgraphic child would probably throw up hearing that we're doing all that, but those with dysgraphic children know that they're really not okay until they can type, but you don't want to totally cut out handwriting at such an early age, so you juggle both. It's a lot for a kid. It reminds me of the days when she was an infant and wouldn't latch on and I would pump-nurse-bottle feed 24 HOURS A DAY. It's not supposed to be that way!
I would like to share what we've done so far, the mistakes I've made, and where we're going. . Maybe the dialogue will be helpful with other children, especially 2E children who don't struggle with verbal language or creative thought but are held back by the physical act of writing. I know a lot of you guys are homeschoolers, so I hope I'm not intruding on that with this public schooler post. Homeschooling isn't optimal in our situation.
I started by keeping a log. One thing that concerns me about all the work we do at home is that it is difficult for teachers and people at the school to see how hard she works to get to where she needs to be with writing. Right now I do not think they understand that there is composition on the other side of the handwriting gate and that she might not be limited on that side. But to get over there and try it out, she needs somebody to open the handwriting gate for her.
At the end of the school year, her teacher sent her home with journaling prompts which were good and creative and would be fun for kids who were more able to physically write. Not so good for my kid. They also sent home a mechanics/skills books called Texas Write Source (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and an Assessment Preparation guide that had composition exercises in it (also Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), both second grade.
I had her handwrite in the mechanics book (not so bad, at the sentence level). It wasn't fun, felt slow and boring, but was doable. The composition book was a disaster.
We did one exercise. I planned to scribe. She did it, but the whole experience was very negative, I felt this was going to kill her love of writing, and most importantly, I would NEVER respond to a student's writing the way this book made me feel like I needed to respond to hers. That's where your daughter's ability to express herself in written language does not belong to her future employers or her teachers, it belongs to her" fits in...
So I apologized. I put composition on the back burner and thought I would research it more while we focused on typing and...something.
Then I found Michael Clay Thompon's Grammar Island--the iBook version. This is perfect. It's relaxing and pleasant and she really enjoys it. It's not drill and kill but there are enough exercises in it for her to test herself. It's drag and drop, so there's no pencil involved at all, which is much more relaxing. And it covers grammar fluidly, which makes it much easier for her to see the big picture quickly. That's huge. I think that's what she's been missing. Right now we're just working on Grammar Island, very casually and calmly and it is a pleasant experience--and she's doing very well.
Then she decided she wanted to start cooking. She made up a recipe of her own, a crepe/omelet recipe. I scribed for her and she told me what I needed to write, and we wrote the recipe out. She forgot things, was inaccurate, etc, which made it very easy to transition into editing and ordering information. I think that is what we are going to continue to do this summer for composition, just write down recipes. I see it helping her develop a lot of important writing skills without all the pain.
Anyway, just wanted to share. I never mind keeping up the conversation with those who are interested. Trying to help a 2E kid fill her holes is very challenging, and I certainly feel alone...but if we don't, nobody will. And that would be a shame.