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My child struggles with WWE4. Anyone else? Help?

plain jane

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My 9yo (soon to be 10yo) 4th grader has worked through all the WWE levels and is currently working through WWE4.  He is really struggling with this level of the program and I am wondering if this is normal?


He's usually able to form coherent narrations and his sentence structure is fairly solid as we do use other writing programs along with WWE (we've used CAP's Writing, IEW, as well as others).  The biggest problem lies in that he does not comprehend the passages that he is reading.  He finds a lot of the words difficult for him and the ideas in general seem to confuse him and he doesn't understand what is going on.


I usually have him read the passage to himself a few times but it sometimes seems like he is reading but is simply tuning out.  If he struggles then we go through the passage, sentence by sentence and clarify anything that was unclear to him.  Usually by the it makes sense but he is my third child to go through this program and the first to have such a difficult time with it.


The passages that are the most difficult for him are the passages that have anything to do with history.  The Joan of Arc week was very difficult, as was the week on Henry V.


I am trying to go through the hard ones with him patiently but it does seem to me now that he waits for me to go through it with him and relies heavily on me to explain it to him rather than thinking about the passage himself.  Sometimes he will just stare out the window as we are discussing a passage and I have to admit, there are times when even (what I think is) the simplest of sentences will cause him confusion.

I would like to know if anyone else has had a child who struggled with the passages in WWE4 or if this is a sign of a more serious issue with mine that I need to be looking into.


I am going to start a separate post because I have issues with him tuning out when I read aloud (to the point where he won't know what happened in an entire chapter) or not recalling what happened after reading one or two paragraphs.  I find it very frustrating and it can feel like a waste of my time when I read aloud to him and he doesn't recall anything I just said.  I'm wondering if it is all related but for now I would like to focus on WWE4.


Outside of WWE4 he seems to be at grade level with his writing.  I have a friend who is an elementary teacher who looks at his work from time to time when I am worried and she says if he were a child in her classroom she would be very pleased with his work and would place it at a higher level than grade 4.  I only mention this because it's not the physical writing and putting sentences together that is the issue.

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We did WWE 4 for half of this fourth grade year. My kids struggled with interest level- they didn't enjoy reading passages out of context. So I just took a volume of fairy tales (The Silver Treasure, to be exact) and read it during our book time and had them narrate that. They did better since the stories had a beginning, middle and end. I'm working them back into non-fiction narration but only with our own history and science reading.

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Just a thought, but this might be a great time to set aside WWE and do something else for the rest of the year so he doesn't burn out on WWE. Since there's only about 2 months left in this school year, have some fun and come back to WWE some time later in 5th grade after a refreshing break, and a chance for DS to mature a bit and grow into the level of WWE4 so it's not such a struggle.


Since DS is writing well for his age, really you'd only be looking at wanting ideas to just put pencil to paper a few times a week so DS doesnt get "rusty" with Writing. You can just pull ideas for all kinds of interesting writing from internet searches.


For your DS's age, I love recommending Wordsmith Apprentice (WA). It is mostly done solo by the student. You can schedule as big or as small of a "bite" of writing per day as you wish. It has a fun cub-reporter spin in that the student writes for all the different departments on a newspaper (which gives exposure/practice in writing in the four types of writing: Descriptive, Narrative, Expository, Persuasive). It has fun/goofy 1-page cartoon to introduce each new unit (the editor in chief speaks to you about the next department you'll write for). It makes for a *great* break from a more formal Writing program. And it often clicks great for students who aren't that "into" writing, or who are struggling writers.


Here are sample pages and the table of contents, and a suggested 36-week schedule.


My vote would be to get started on WA now, go at a casual rate -- maybe only do WA 15 min/day, 3x/week, and give yourselves time to do some other different and interesting writing 1-2x/week -- all kinds of fun writing for taking a break from WWE and formal writing:

- story writing -- solo, or share alternating writing paragraphs of one story together

- blog entries

- free-writing of some type

- a few short (1-paragraph) summaries of things DS found most interesting about the History or Science you've been doing

- perhaps writing as "mini booklets" for a lap book

- make a poster, or create an ad or brochure to go along with your History, Science, or other subject

- write a book or movie review or review of a favorite TV show


Stop where ever in WA you get to by the end of this year, enjoy the summer off, and then pick it up again in 5th grade and finish. Then reassess and see if DS is ready to continue with WWE4 and finish it out -- or, ready to move on to WWS. Just what I would do -- based on having two "pencil-phobic" DSs at that age. ;) BEST of luck in whatever you decide. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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