I've written here before about my worries about my DD's writing. She is going into 2nd grade and struggled all year to complete her writing assignments in 1st grade.
I think there were some issues with letter formation. She is a perfectionist and often writes and then erases letters that are not perfect.
I'm conflicted about how to address this. On one hand, I think the writing requirements in early elementary school are ridiculous. If she was allowed to follow a more traditional path, I think she would be fine. She's gaining fluency in her reading. She is articulate and has a broad vocabulary. She does very good oral narrations.
But I don't want her to think that she can't keep up because she can't fill a page with words in school. I hate to sound flippant but I think that what they are looking for is a page full of words. Content doesn't matter. Spelling doesn't matter. They just want the kids to fill the page. My child does not fill the page.
I read The Writer's Jungle and a book called I'm Done. Bravewriter seems to be a bridge between the more traditional approach of copywork and dictation and the modern approach of encouraging lots of freewriting. I'm Done is the modern approach and discusses how to establish a writers workshop in a primary school classroom. I really like I'm Done. I think the advice is very good but I can't help but question why we are spending so much energy doing something that would be easier to accomplish with older children. Much of the author's advice is about to capture the interest of little children and focus their attention on writing. But we all know how much easier it would be to accomplish that task with a 10 year than a 7 year old.
The author takes it as a given that little children should do original writing every day but provides no evidence that there is a connection between prolific writing in the primary grades and accomplished writing in older children.
Regardless, DD's school believes in the modern approach and expects a lot of writing from little children so we have to accommodate it.
I had the realization that no one has really taught DD how to put her thoughts down on paper. I think I can work on that over the summer. I was thinking of doing some mini lessons with her copywork. After she copies it, we can talk about the sentence and why the author chose those words and put them into that particular order. I feel a little bit annoyed at the expectations that children will just organically pick up writing without formal instruction.
Has anyone here tried to afterschool writing?
BTW, I just read this fascinating article on a writing program in a trouble NYC high school.
The Hochman Program, as it is sometimes called, would not be unfamiliar to nuns who taught in Catholic schools circa 1950. Children do not have to “catch” a single thing. They are explicitly taught how to turn ideas into simple sentences, and how to construct complex sentences from simple ones by supplying the answer to three prompts—but, because, and so. They are instructed on how to use appositive clauses to vary the way their sentences begin. Later on, they are taught how to recognize sentence fragments, how to pull the main idea from a paragraph, and how to form a main idea on their own. It is, at least initially, a rigid, unswerving formula. “I prefer recipe,” Hochman says, “but formula? Yes! Okay!”