Jump to content

Menu

Recommended Posts

I pulled out my WTM book a couple of days ago to review where we are and where we are going in regards to next year.  As I considered the writing suggestions for students, I saw that the book recommended having an occasional assignment of writing a letter to someone.  My students are a 6 year old/1st grader DD and an 8 year old/2nd grader DS (doing 2nd again because we have always regretted started him in K when we did instead of waiting for the next year...he has a July birthday and is slightly delayed development).  We were at the library and left both of them to begin free writing their letter to their grandparents.  When they announced they were finished, I took a look.  Both of them had made tons of writing mistakes.  My DD had no capitalizations at the beginning of her sentences, frequent random capitals in the middle of the words and very few punctuation.  My DS was only slightly better on the caps/punct but he had a multitude of sentence fragments.  I did not have any expectations for the content or the flow of the letter which I expected to be child-like and informal to include some fragments because of the conversational tone.  We've done tons of copywork.  My DS went though WWE 1 and 2 and FLL 1 with narration/dictation/copywork.  My DD has been doing random copywork of Scripture, recipes, or books since July.  So, what happened here?  Has anyone else experienced this?  Should I take this to mean that our efforts have been wasted on these particular materials or maybe that my expectations were too high?  Thanks in advance for any thoughts/suggestions/advice! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the expectations were too high. Most children need to start writing single sentences - this way they can practice capitalization and punctuation. Writing a letter takes a lot of skill - there is the set up, the salutation, multiple sentences and even paragraphs - beginning, middles and ends even depending what they are writing. 

 

I would take both children back to writing single sentences if you want them to do original work. They need to understand what a sentence is and how to write in full sentences. This takes time. Much early creative writing is journalling - and again should start with only one sentence with a capital and a period (forget questions and exclamations for now). If you really want them to write a letter then you will need them to dictate it to you and then possibly copy it or part of it afterwards. Expecting to get all those aspects of writing correct without practice with the basic sentence is too much.

 

Your efforts with WWE have not been wasted however - I just think that creative writing or writing your own thing needs to start with smaller and easier chunks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very normal.  I can't see asking any child at 6 to just write a letter on their own.  At that age my kids would have been coached in writing.  "Dear Grandma (etc.),  

(Body of letter with one or two sentences of their choice.)

Love, Susie-Q

 

The 8 year old might be expected to have one paragraph in the body of the letter.

 

You are asking them to come up with original ideas and put them in the form of a specific document - a letter.  And then you are asking them to remember all the punctuation and capitalization rules.  

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

My son still does this. It doesn't happen as frequently now that I have started reminders, but it is mind boggling for me too. He can say that every sentence needs to be capitalized. He can correctly edit passages. Does he then do it when he is just writing something. No! Gracious.

 

Anyway, I now have him do more open writing. Then, before I even look at it I ask:

 

Are you sure you capitalized everything?

Did you check your proper nouns?

Did you use correct punctuation at the ends of your sentences?

Are you sure?

Did you touch each sentence in the beginning and the end? (He is kinesthetic. Something about touching the page makes things click)

 

It is ridiculous. I often think to myself, "Come on, Really?" But it has honestly gotten better when I have had him focus directly on these edits before "turning something in" for lack of a better term. There is a glitch there for some reason.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since independent writing like that has not been done before I think you are expecting too much. Try writing a letter every week or two. Correct their mistakes and remind them ahead of time to use proper capitalization and punctuation. I bet they will improve in no time. This goes for any new writing you introduce like journals, narrations, poetry. We just started journaling this January while still not perfect both of my girls have improved so much.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh man, I can only imagine if I "left" my kids alone to do that assignment; they're the same ages as yours. It would quickly become: :willy_nilly: DD(6) often will write stories, but she likes to write her words without a space between them :001_huh: , and her spelling when she writes freely like that is atrocious! DS(8) is doing very well in his writing, but still makes a lot of mistakes. Today he was writing about Louis Braille, and he had "Louis braille" and "braille is a System to help the Blind..." Sometimes I wonder how so many capital letters make it into his writing! All that to say, I don't think your kids are off, and I don't think the time you have spent in WWE or FLL is wasted. I've been really trying to help my son in his writing this year vs. making him do it on his own, and I think that has helped a lot. You guys are normal, don't worry!

 

My son still does this. It doesn't happen as frequently now that I have started reminders, but it is mind boggling for me too. He can say that every sentence needs to be capitalized. He can correctly edit passages. Does he then do it when he is just writing something. No! Gracious.

Anyway, I now have him do more open writing. Then, before I even look at it I ask:

Are you sure you capitalized everything?
Did you check your proper nouns?
Did you use correct punctuation at the ends of your sentences?
Are you sure?
Did you touch each sentence in the beginning and the end? (He is kinesthetic. Something about touching the page makes things click)

It is ridiculous. I often think to myself, "Come on, Really?" But it has honestly gotten better when I have had him focus directly on these edits before "turning something in" for lack of a better term. There is a glitch there for some reason.

 

I ask all those same questions, lol, except the bolded. That is interesting and I may have to try that with ds.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They were thinking about what to write, and the how to write isn't quite automatic yet. Remember they're young... They still have to think about capitalizing the first word in a sentence, putting a period at the end. They still have to think about spelling and maybe even how to form some of the letters. That's why SWB has them do so much copywork - to practice making sure those things are there without having to worry about what to write.

 

My oldest can write a nice paragraph now, but the first draft will always be full of spelling errors, capitalization issues, and even capital letters in the middle of words! :banghead:  If he were to write a letter to his grandparents, I would have him either do a rough draft and then a final copy, or he'd tell me what he wanted to write and I'd write at least some of it on the board (words he can't spell). When he was 6-7, I'd write his entire letter on the board, and he would copy it.

 

We did dictation this week with some words I wasn't sure my son knew how to spell. He did very well, placing punctuation in the correct spots, spelling everything nicely. It was completely different from his from-his-head writing. The difference? He was focusing on spelling, punctuation, and which way b/d go (still has to think about that), and the content was already there for him. He's still getting it all together in his head.

Link to post
Share on other sites

DS is newly 6 and in K, and loves to write letters. But for us that means he writes "Dear [Whoever]," dictates the body to me, and signs it "Love, [DS]." I don't see him becoming able to write the whole body by this time next year.

 

He knows to capitalize and use periods, but I doubt he'd be a good judge of what's a complete sentence just yet. Composing + capitalizing + spelling + punctuating a whole letter is a big job for early elementary.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds about like what my 7yo would produce.  I have different requirements for "free writing" vs dictation.  In free writing, the main goal is to get an idea from brain to paper.  It is a "rough draft" and I focus essentially on content and clarity.  In a dictation, I start off a dictation (of one sentence) with "How do we start a sentence?  How do we end a sentence?" and he answers.  I then watch every letter go onto the paper and immediately correct errors in mechanics and spelling so that the final product is a "clean" copy.

 

I don't expect the one skill set to carry over to free writing for a long time yet! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all!  I guess in my mind "I" was focusing on grammar issues of Caps and punctuation and not flow and content but the kids were focused on their own conversational ideas.  My DS, at 8, has had YEARS now of what is a sentence and what goes at the beginning and what goes at the end and does so if I'm looking over his shoulder and guiding him.  I was just so disappointed to see that he couldn't (or just didn't?) do it independently.  I just worried that all these years of WWE and FLL, it had not sunken in.  I really appreciate the resetting of my perspective to remember how many tasks and expectations culminated in what I expected to be an easy assignment. I will plan to do more letters from time to time and take a few steps back in order to start at the beginning.  Most importantly, I will not take this to mean that I or our materials have failed in teaching them what they need to learn at this point even though they didn't reproduce what they've learned in their writings.  Thanks again.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...