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Question for 2nd grade son struggling with writing

writing second grade

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#1 MichelleMom


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Posted 02 February 2009 - 11:42 PM

OK, I am completely new to this forum--but could use some help. My son is in second grade (public school) and is struggling with writing. I guess at this point I would be considered "afterschooling" him, but I don't feel that I'm getting very far. He has never liked writing, never really even wanted to draw, or do anything with a pencil!--but is very advanced in reading and math--we just struggle with the writing.

I realize now, after reading some excerpts from WWE, that my emphasis on him doing additional writing at home has likely just added to his frustrations--he needs to work on all the fundamentals, such as grammar, spelling, capitalization. His penmanship is not good, and complicated by his left-handedness (which means he covers up the writing with his arm as he writes it and loses the visual of the words as he is writing them.) At this point, he is barely writing at grade level (example: Cetos is asome! (for) Cheetos is awesome!) and has to be reminded consistently to capitalize, sound-out and punctuate. His frustration is probably heightened by the fact that he can read books 2 years ahead of his level, but lacks the ability to put his thoughts about them into comprehensible language.

My solution has been to do short, single paragraph writing assigments as additional homework--5 sentences or less, on an easy topic (favorite foods, animals, etc.) I also work with him on revision and spelling as part of that assignment. I'm thinking now that he really needs more of the copy work and dictation practice that is repeated in WWE, to give him a better foundation of language and sentence structure, and to take the focus off "brainstorming" topics to write about on top of the writing itself.

I'm thinking of trying the WWE workbooks as a supplement to his regular schoolwork. (His teacher has only said that he needs to work on his writing at home, and hasn't had any ideas beyond the journaling thing for him to do.) Any ideas on how to approach this? And given that he is in grade 2, but a struggling writer, should I start with workbook 1 or 2?

Any insight would be greately appreciated,


#2 Matryoshka


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Posted 02 February 2009 - 11:54 PM

I'd definitely recommend the WWE. My 8yo dd is taking a writing class, and I could see that she needed a lot of work. The class is based on a public school curriculum (being taught by my mom, who used to teach 2nd grade ps), and expects a lot of inventive writing. My dd was having problems with that, and also sloppy handwriting, spelling and mechanics, even though she can write neatly and with decent spelling and mechanics when she's thinking about them. I realized I needed to get something where she didn't need to think about what she was writing, but could work on those three things in the context of actually writing something (as opposed to her penmanship and spelling curricula, which are great but also out of context).

She's been doing the WWE2 workbook and it's just the thing! It takes only 10 minutes or so a day, she likes doing it (asks for it!), and I have seen it carry over to her other writing almost immediately. It's like the piece of glue that was missing. And I love that it's also teaching her how to summarize/narrate.

#3 Ummto4


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Posted 03 February 2009 - 09:47 AM

It seems that your son has two sets of problems:
1. Writing mechanics.
2. The composition itself.

To improve his writing mechanics, he needs to do copywork and dictation regularly.

As for the composition itself, if he's in trouble in thinking what to write, the gentlest method is by retelling. That way, he does not have to come up with anything.

If he HAS to do some kind of inventive writing at PS, what you can do at home is to train him to brainstorm his topic so that he can get the topic as narrow as possible and the topic should be directly connected to his experience.

E.g. if the topic: Write about your favorite sport. Mmm .... that's too broad. You should ask your son what sport he likes. Say, he likes rock climbing. You can then ask him to make a list what he likes about it. Then pick one .... only one ... from his list and write about it. Ask him to describe his feeling and basically his experience of that. If he cannot write it down, be his scribe for the moment.

Another thing you can try is to do a lot of freewriting with him. Just ask him to sit for 10 mins and do any writing which comes up to his mind. Whatever ... DOn't worry about spelling, etc. YOu just want to train him to put his thought on paper. Then don't even correct, just ask him to read it back to you. If you see there's potential in his freewrite, you can have a look at it and ask him to revise, e.g. by ask him to expand or narrow the focus. Don't work on the mechanics at the moment, just work on content.

I suggest you to have a look at Writer's Jungle at www.bravewriter.com. This manual talks in detail what I just wrote to you and much more. It'll give you many ideas on how to guide your son to write. There are MANY things to do to get your son's writer voice out beyond what is suggested by typical progymnasta programs. The chapter on writer's natural stage is v. invaluable as it tells you what you should do together with your child at each stage.

It also emphasizes a lot on narration, copywork and dictation for beginner and the writer has a lot of ideas on how to use those to the max, such as how to address a particular spelling problem with dictation, how to select copywork passages and what to do with the passage to get the maximum benefit, etc. Basically she has a many suggestion on how to implement those creatively ... I mean beyond workbooks.

WWE is a good program progym program. But Writer's Jungle will give you more information and ideas on how to develop a writer.

Edited by mom2moon2, 03 February 2009 - 09:59 AM.

#4 Lovedtodeath


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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:20 AM

Dictation defined: Son studies a short sentence, taking in and paying attention to all of the details. After studying the sentence and pouring over the spelling, grammar, punctuation, perhaps for several days, you take the example away, and tell him to write the sentence down. You can say the sentence so that he does not actually memorize the content, but he has studied every bit of form and structure ahead of time. Son writes it down. You are ready to pounce should he start to write a word incorrectly. (You do not want him to write it incorrectly, as this will make him remember it that way.)


#5 Colleen in NS

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 11:42 AM

There are two threads going on this, in case any responders want to check out the other thread. Maybe a moderator will notice and merge them for the OP so she's got all her info. in one spot.


cross-linking to help the OP and other posters. hope I haven't confused anyone!

Edited by Colleen in NS, 03 February 2009 - 11:46 AM.