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Writing: The Struggle


MrsRobinson
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I am sure there are countless threads on this topic. I've read quite a few. But today's drama is bringing me to post our situation and get some specific feedback.

 

Here's what went down this morning. Dd bounds in the room with an old 4x2 dry erase board and wants to make a to-do list for her ongoing project. She wants me to write out the list, then she'll copy it on the board so all the spelling is correct. Fine by me. In my mind, I was already planning on doing her LA lesson orally since she was so excited about this list. I wrote it on a small white board on the fridge. On her board, she wrote:

 

A*****'s to do list:

 

Then slapped the magnetic list I wrote on her large board!!!!

 

So I calmly told her "hey this was something you wanted to do and I fully support your interests and I'll let you skip the writing in LA today but don't give up on this so easily." Then the whining and tears started about it being too many words. Guys, this was a basic list. 4 bullet points. Small words. Do this. Do that. Then the other.

 

Still crying, she starts on task 1. I brought out my super special mommy's only colorful dry erase markers and said maybe this will help make it more fun. Each task can be a different color. She perked up at that idea. But then moved on to crying again and needing a snack break. Ok. 5 min snack break. Then a bathroom break. I set a timer and stopped and started it to account for every break. Bullet point 2 and the first half of point 3 took her TWENTY MINUTES!!! 6 words. Then she just totally vanished taking advantage of the nursing baby I was putting to sleep.

 

There are all sorts of punctuation errors, capital letters in the middle of words, all from copying my correct list!!

 

I get the idea that some of this is pushed too young on kids but she was copying mine. The correct information was right there. This was something she thought of on her own and wanted to do but her lack of stamina for writing was enough to cause her to give up. I hate to see that attitude in her. I want her to challenge herself for the things she loves. That doesn't seem crazy to me. Maybe I'm missing something though.

 

I'll just add quickly that writing is a daily battle. I constantly cut down the amount required in the lesson. We tried our first dictation a few months ago and I nearly had a nervous breakdown it was soooo rough. I can add more details on what we've done if needed.

 

At this point, I'm willing to try anything. More, less, radical, hard core, whatever. If there are essays, lectures, podcasts, you think will help, send them my way.

 

I've read the intro to WWE AGAIN and I don't know, I just need something new to read/try. Tia for any suggestions. :)

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At this point, I'm willing to try anything. More, less, radical, hard core, whatever. If there are essays, lectures, podcasts, you think will help, send them my way

 

I have nothing for you right now but hugs. My oldest is allergic to the pencil & writing (penmanship through composition) has always been a struggle with her.

  :grouphug:  I am sure others will have helpful words & ideas. Me, I'm just going to offer commiseration.

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I know it *seems* like copywork should be really easy for kids--but sometimes it's not. I wrote about that on my blog. Here's what I would consider:

 

-how much can she write without getting upset? 1 sentence? 2 sentences? X number of words? Start at her level, whatever point that is, and gradually help her increase that. Let her know what the goal is that you are working towards (make it a baby-step--very doable--not something like jumping from being able to write 4 words to copying 20, or going from 1 sentence to a paragraph, etc...) Build in lots of encouragement along the way. Help her to see her progress.

 

-consider the difficulty of the words. Could she easily read the words if they were in her reader? Does she understand how the phonics are working in those words? If not, she'll be trying to copy letter by letter--which really is counter-productive.

 

-consider "helping" more. For example, if you looked at the list and thought--she normally can copy only about half this many words, offer to write every other line, or to let her write the first half and you write the second half on her board--or some other reasonable accommodation. Or, ask her to write for X minutes, and then you'll write the rest--as long as she writes diligently for that long. Start with small goals and work up--better 1 minute of writing with good attention and attitude, than 20 minutes of tears and teeth-gnashing, right? Try to find something doable, and something that can be a positive experience that can result in praise for something--even if it's not a perfect experience. 

 

Hang in there!

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Thank you both for your replies. :)

 

To answer the question, yes, she is copying words she can read easily. She is an extremely advanced reader. I rarely have to correct her when she reads. She reads anywhere from 2 to 5 chapter books per week. I think that might be part of the problem with writing. She has to slow way down to write.

 

I read your blog post and really enjoyed it. It was interesting that a different spelling approach may help her writing. Maybe she needs something different there. I'll have to give that some thought.

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My youngest son has motor delays. His OT says to have him do 10 minutes of writing a day. Right now, we're up to 3 short copywork sentences. His OT also has us doing some other things to build his writing stamina. Each day, I schedule an activity that he doesn't see as related to writing, but that will help build those muscles and control, like using Perler beads, Qixels, building with Straws and Connectors, knitting with a hand loom, etc. Even playing board games with small pieces, like Settlers of Catan and Blokus, can help build control. I also have him do a lot of art projects, like drawing, painting and coloring.

 

With all that said, my oldest daughter (a third year college student now) was an advanced reader, and she refused to write for a long time. Part of it was because she could tell when she wasn't doing it correctly, so there was a perfectionist element, and part of it was because it was a challenge, while everything else came easy. Writing isn't a natural act. It's not something that we naturally learn how to do. It takes work, and when a kid is used to picking things up quickly, having the perseverance to push through can be hard. We laugh about it now, but when she was younger, there was a lot of "I'm TIRED!!!" and flailing around in her chair whenever I asked her to write. Once, I even threatened to duct tape her pencil to her hand, because she constantly dropped it on the floor. ;) I knew it wasn't a motor issue for her, and eventually things got better, but it was rough going there for a while.

 

It's great to separate out composition skills from the physical act of handwriting early on, so that kids can build their composition skills without being limited by how well they can form letters. You're doing that already, which is awesome.

 

I kind of messed up with my younger daughter though. She always preferred to play rather than do school, and she complained a lot about writing. I was convinced she had fine motor issues and let her do a lot of things orally because it was easier than fighting with her when I was trying to deal with the other kids too. When she was 12, I took her for an OT evaluation, and the OT told me that her motor skills were just fine. They taught her cursive in 6 weeks. Oops.

 

It really sounds to me like you're doing all the right things!

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Hi, I can relate to your struggles. I have three boys who have issues with the manual act of writing and it has repercussions all through "schooling". I am just curious if you have investigated whether or not there are any physical issues...for instance, fine motor struggles or vision issues. 

My oldest son has very high funtioning Aspergers and one of his issues is poor fine motor control. He is 17 1/2 and the other day I had to struggle suggest and then stand over him to make him take physical notes on  paper for his online geometry class so he could pass his Discussion Based Assessment. He kept having to stop and shake out his hand. My middle son (13) who is neuro typical also has some sensory issues and poor fine motor issues and I can't read his handwriting hardly at all, he even struggles to read his own writing. 

It pays to be aware of any special struggles before we assume that it's all attitude or emotional based. Some things are just harder for some people than others. Visual processing issues could explain the mixed upper/lower case situation, or maybe that it's something else. 

Merry had some great suggestions for working with a child whether they are dealing with visual/fine motor or emotional/psychological issues, but it helps as the parent to narrow down and try to figure out which might be the culprit.

HTH!

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You said you were willing to try ANYTHING, right?  Then ditch your writing curriculum entirely, teach her to type, let her do all her compositions with dictation software, book it on spelling (to get her up to IQ level, not grade level, so she can actually get out her thoughts), and do paired writing together.  By paired writing I mean things like Listography or retellings of fables or whatever you want to do, but doing it TOGETHER.  

 

My dd is like that, super bright, super fast reader, very ADHD, and her handwriting was not automatic for years.  The OT claims it is now, but I don't think it really is.  Even typing was hard for her, and I finally paid her and put her on a more ergonomic keyboard layout (Dvorak).  

 

See the key is to bridge the GAP between what they THINK and what they can GET OUT.  You get all this balking because they're bored, because it's not working, because they've been cooped up all winter, because you should be eating ice cream and painting and taking long walks in the park...  WWE is heavy on working memory, and many super bright, super fast kids have low working memory.  You could work on working memory if you want!  Add game time to your schedule every day.  Axe WWE and add game time.  Every day break out games and work for one hour doing Ticket to Ride, Catan Jr, Memory, puzzles, anything that will build working memory, visual memory.  Have you played Dixit?  She'd LOVE Dixit.  It's super creative.  You could play these games and call them writing.   :D

 

Working memory affects your ability to hold your thoughts, motor plan, and get it down on paper.  Working memory is the scratch pad of the brain, allowing things to go from short-term to long-term memory.  It's why she can seem so bright and then forget, poof!  So play more games.  

 

I worked about an hour a day on spelling with my dd at that age.  Up until about 6th or 7th grade, we did significant dictation daily.  That context seemed to help my dd.  And I don't mean murderous, unkind, hold a paragraph in your head because some book said to.  I'm saying pick up a book she really likes or that you have been reading aloud and just work through it together.  Put a bowl of m&Ms out and incentivize what you need to see more of.  With my dd, I wanted her to THINK about whether she knew the word, self-monitor, and ask for help.  So if you want that, reward that and give an m&M!  If she tends to blurt, reward her for NOT blurting.  If she forgets end punctuation, reward for remembering end punctuation.  More positive, more rewards.  You said dictation didn't go well.  You need to start shorter, more in-reach, and do it as a TEAM effort.  Reward her for asking, for self-monitoring.  Pick simple goals and support the rest.  Support more.  Dictation is not supposed to be a test.

 

This is a time of year when people get very frustrated.  It's ok to de-fuse, take a break, do field trips for a while.  

 

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Thank you all so much for your help!!!

 

Sharon, I am looking into those activities and games. I think that might be great. Its good to hear someone say that it will get better!

 

Verity, I have not checked out physical culprits. She has an annual checkup with the pediatrician soon and I will ask about vision/fine motor issues.

 

OhElizabeth, I had to laugh at your, 'you said ANYTHING, right?' Yep, I sure did! And I meant it, too. I am more than happy to throw the writing curriculum out the window. Then run over it with the lawn mower!

 

When you say book it on spelling... do you recommend any particular method or program or is that the 1 hour of spelling through dictation you detailed later in your post? And when you say to get to her IQ level... is that something you would recommend that I evaluate more formally or just ball park it based on where I feel she is at? I am looking up all your recommendations now. Have you met my daughter?! You are right on the money, she will LOVE Listography and Dixit! Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to help.

 

You all are amazing! Off to look up more of the recommendations!

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I don't have any suggestions, but I like a LOT of what MaryAtHope and OhE said!

 

And I'm right here with you, OP.  My 8yo 2nd grader has a very very hard time with writing anything.  He miswrites words he knows how to spell, forgets to put spaces between words or puts spaces in the middle of words, randomly uses capital letters, even leaves entire words out or writes words in the wrong order.  WWE brought him to tears.  We're just doing the readings, narrations, and a more appropriate (for him) version of the copywork (less, broken into pieces if necessary, and written on HWOT pages for him to copy).  He's working on learning to type, so hopefully that will help too, eventually.  He's been stuck at the same level of handwriting and copywork difficulty for quite a while, and it really didn't seem like typical-for-his-age issues anymore.  He threw a crying fit one day when I tried to insist that he draw a rectangle and label it's sides.   So we recently had him tested with an educational psych.  His writing was 8+ grade levels below his reading and comprehension!   She also found that he has low working memory and processing speed, and she diagnosed him with dysgraphia.  Knowing this has helped *me* tremendously with my expectations and patience.  Still unsure of how we're going to work around it, but I'm confident we will.

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She has an annual checkup with the pediatrician soon and I will ask about vision/fine motor issues.

My kids pediatrician did not check for tracking issues which affected hand eye coordination. Their opthamologist did check tracking after I mentioned I had VT for tracking issues during the family history discussion. Turned out my youngest have mild tracking issues which slows down his reading speed a little.

 

My oldest "pass" the fine motor checklist at the annual well baby checkup. His hands used swell at the wrist area due to writing fatigue. I let him type most of his language arts work since it is harder to type for math work. His writing stamina is better now but he will type his assignments given a choice.

 

If her reading level is a lot higher, her writing speed may be far behind her reading speed which can lead to spelling mistakes due to to the brain churning faster than the hand. I used to spell "water" as "wate" for chemistry assignments. My chem teacher knew I could spell water correctly. I gave up and use H2O for water instead because water takes too long to write apparently when I was in 7th grade integrated science.

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OhElizabeth, I had to laugh at your, 'you said ANYTHING, right?' Yep, I sure did! And I meant it, too. I am more than happy to throw the writing curriculum out the window. Then run over it with the lawn mower!

 

When you say book it on spelling... do you recommend any particular method or program or is that the 1 hour of spelling through dictation you detailed later in your post? And when you say to get to her IQ level... is that something you would recommend that I evaluate more formally or just ball park it based on where I feel she is at? I am looking up all your recommendations now. Have you met my daughter?! You are right on the money, she will LOVE Listography and Dixit! Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to help.

 

You all are amazing! Off to look up more of the recommendations!

I probably HAVE your dd, lol.  Or rather, I have the 16 yo version of your dd.  :)  Yes, a ped can do an EF screening for you and discuss ADHD.  Yes, if you have the money to throw around you would learn some things with evals.  My dd is quite bright, was a pain in the butt in some ways to teach and a marvel in others.  We didn't start any evals till she was 10 (first with VT, then OT, then psych at 12), and it was one of my BIGGEST MISTAKES.  Early, thorough evals.  You'll learn SO much.  Totally changed the way I worked with her and gave me CONFIDENCE to know I was going the right way.  

 

So yes have the ped screen for ADHD if you want.  You can get a basic annual eye exam (you know, the $60 normal appt) but get it with a *developmental* optometrist instead of a regular one.  Ask the to screen for things.  They can screen and say nope, nothing here, or yes we see some things.  That way you don't blow money on a full developmental vision eval if it's not needed.  My ADHD dd needed vision therapy.  Ironically, my dyslexic ds has not.  Go figure.  :D

 

When I say book it, yes I'm just meaning put some energy into it, some effort, some focus.  Spalding (you know, WRTR) had this theory that if you could accelerate spelling in the early years, it would make kids' writing better by allowing them to get out their thoughts.  So think about that.  You can use technology now to bridge the gap between the level she THINKS at and the level she WRITES at.  Then work on the spelling to get it up there.

 

Honestly, I'm sort of of the rock star philosophy of learning.  I think kids learn best when they feel like a rock star.  So if part of your approach is going to suck and be tedious, then add a component that makes her feel like a ROCK STAR.  And try to bring your rock star mentality into dictation.  What would it take to get her successful?  You're there, you know.  In your heart of hearts, you know.  You don't need us to tell you.  What you really need is to be brave enough to go DO that radical thing.  

 

So make some RADICAL CHANGES or modifications to how you use materials that turn her into a rock star, that let her feel like she CAN do this, that give her some positive momentum.  

 

There's a really good book in that vein: Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World.  Not *everything* Freed espouses is completely correct (these things are complex!), but if you read it from the idea of freeing yourself to be RADICAL, to innovate, to not be afraid to let her succeed.  So what, do we say that writing is only good enough if it makes you cry?  It's only good enough if it was some long dictation from WWE?  It's only good enough if it's a narration or outline of some boring, dry, insipid, idiotic, lifeless, joyless, PASSION-LESS history encyclopedia??

 

Hello, we can do better.  We SHOULD do better.  Some kids are the kind who really can just do anything anybody tells them to.  They just sit down, do it, and say done.  Then they go out and play.  But some kids shed blood over that, die, lose the joy of learning.  Wouldn't it be better to do paired writing or let her type the dictation or play lots of games to build up her working memory or do interest-centered writing or something else and come out with JOY?  I know joy is overrated.  I'm not saying make them happy.  I'm saying don't make them sad.  Don't break her heart by being afraid.  It was a neuropsychologist, the swankiest type of psych you can get for evals, who told me to take EVERYTHING I did with my dd AS FAR OUT OF THE BOX AS I COULD.  And I went through every subject with him, telling him my range of options, and over and over he's like bust the mold, be more contextualized, take it out of the box.  And that's what we've done, best as we could, and it has been good for us.  WTM, for me, gives me this sort of rudder of skills, but to get them we go as far off the reservation as we please.  :)

 

I did lots of dictation with my dd, yes.  Some years I combined things like a spelling workbook AND dictation AND spelling software.  The spelling software was just to make her feel like a rock star.  It was Calvert, and I think now you subscribe to do it.  I'm not saying she learned a ton of spelling, but she learned that she knew SOMETHING and that she could do it.  That was worth a lot at the time.  But I'll bet you'd have some blend of what you think would work for her if you just thought about it and freed your mind.  I don't *regret* spending so much time on spelling.  Some people think you should spend less time.  Fine, whatever.  I'm just saying what we did.

 

When she was about the age of yours my dd went through a strain of recipe writing.  She'd write recipes on recipe cards.  They're a HOOT and of course I still have them somewhere.  :)  You really can't beat contextualized stuff like that, something they WANT to write.  She did creative writing to go with her history studies.  A couple years we did writing prompts.  I know WRTR is all down on writing prompts, but personally I think that's unnecessarily b&w advice.  For us writing prompts were GREAT, and I highly recommend them!  Zaccaro (Hickory Press) has some cute books for them.  I think Unjournaling is one.  We used some creative writing prompts one year.  One year we used the prompts from the Jump In tm.  Just spice it up.

 

We did interesting editing that I would print into strips and put in a jar.  Each strip would have the number of errors.  After she did the corrections, she would rewrite the strip for handwriting practice.  

 

There's some evidence that typing creates kinesthetic memory to improve spelling.  It's not so insane to do it that way.  I'm using tiles right now with my ds, but that's probably where we're headed.  He's gifted with many SN.  I'm always trying to bridge this gap between where he thinks and what he can physically do, to keep him in this sweet spot where he considers himself a ROCK STAR *in spite* of his disabilities.  

 

IQ testing gives you, among other things, a processing speed score.  As long as there are no SLDs, any clinical psych can do that testing, screen for ADHD, etc.  It's usually an inexpensive thing compared to full neuropsych testing that runs 2-3X as much.  And it would give you some information that could change how you work with her.  My dd did have neuropsych testing, and the psych found word retrieval issues.  That was what finally explained why we have such a hard time working together!  So it's little stuff like that.  You don't have to have some huge diagnosis to have the process improve your teaching.  

 

Another way to get that info would be to find a tutor who does the Woodcock Johnson.  The WJIII has not only academic achievement testing but also a cognitive component.  It might give you enough feedback for your own purposes.  I've heard different prices depending on who does it.  Around here I was able to get it for $75.  

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I don't have any suggestions, but I like a LOT of what MaryAtHope and OhE said!

 

And I'm right here with you, OP.  My 8yo 2nd grader has a very very hard time with writing anything.  He miswrites words he knows how to spell, forgets to put spaces between words or puts spaces in the middle of words, randomly uses capital letters, even leaves entire words out or writes words in the wrong order.  WWE brought him to tears.  We're just doing the readings, narrations, and a more appropriate (for him) version of the copywork (less, broken into pieces if necessary, and written on HWOT pages for him to copy).  He's working on learning to type, so hopefully that will help too, eventually.  He's been stuck at the same level of handwriting and copywork difficulty for quite a while, and it really didn't seem like typical-for-his-age issues anymore.  He threw a crying fit one day when I tried to insist that he draw a rectangle and label it's sides.   So we recently had him tested with an educational psych.  His writing was 8+ grade levels below his reading and comprehension!   She also found that he has low working memory and processing speed, and she diagnosed him with dysgraphia.  Knowing this has helped *me* tremendously with my expectations and patience.  Still unsure of how we're going to work around it, but I'm confident we will.

Hey Lace, you need to come visit us over on LC!  (the Learning Challenges board here)  You can definitely talk dysgraphia accommodations and how to deal with subjects, when to drop handwriting, etc.  Feel free to start a thread.   :)  How low was the processing speed?  Bring that up over there and you can talk options.  There are definitely things you can do for that working memory.  Sometimes some VT or metronome work can make a surprising difference.  You definitely want to come over to LC and gab.  It's very welcome there, no one bites, and people hang there who don't come over to K-8.  I only come over once in a while.  It's just not a place I fit very well.  My dd is preparing for college and my ds has so many SN he's just on his own planet, lol.  You might find the ladies on LC helpful.   :)

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Hey Lace, you need to come visit us over on LC!  (the Learning Challenges board here)  You can definitely talk dysgraphia accommodations and how to deal with subjects, when to drop handwriting, etc.  Feel free to start a thread.   :)  How low was the processing speed?  Bring that up over there and you can talk options.  There are definitely things you can do for that working memory.  Sometimes some VT or metronome work can make a surprising difference.  You definitely want to come over to LC and gab.  It's very welcome there, no one bites, and people hang there who don't come over to K-8.  I only come over once in a while.  It's just not a place I fit very well.  My dd is preparing for college and my ds has so many SN he's just on his own planet, lol.  You might find the ladies on LC helpful.   :)

 

Thanks, I think I will!  I'm going to need some help figuring out curricula (or something) for next year's LA and that sounds like a great place to start.

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My ds' story may give you a little inspiration.

 

My ds was a typical reluctant writer. Bathroom breaks, snack breaks, needing to get a cup of water, oops my pen fell again. He still does that with subjects he isn't thrilled about, but writing is no longer an issue for us. What worked for my son was coming up with something he wanted to write because he found it fun. We spent a lot of time creating stories. He would tell me his story and I would type it and print it out for him. He loved doing that. Then one day I was busy with the toddler and I thought he was playing in his room. But when I checked in on him he was sitting at his desk writing "a book". He had a story idea and I wasn't there to write/type for him, so he decided to try it himself. He spent over half an hour to painstakingly write one sentence on his own. I heaped on the praise and completely ignored errors. He beamed with pride. He then started writing on his own time. Slowly, but determined because he wanted to do it. I bought him a dictionary and special pens. I gave him unlimited paper. He wanted to make a "real book" so I got him his own stapler so he could staple sheets together to make a book. We dropped our writing program for a year and didn't do writing as part of school anymore. He wrote over thirty "books" in one year, completely by himself during his free time. He invented a universe and created over a dozen stories about it along with descriptive guides for the different planets, and language guides for the different races. He won three writing competitions last year (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) and now considers himself an author.

 

Now obviously not every child is going to get this enthused about writing. But I marvel at how eighteen months ago my ds couldn't write a four word sentence without a major battle, and now he writes pages at a time for enjoyment. If I had pushed him to stick with the writing program he didn't like I would not have discovered that he has a passion for writing.

 

I would put WWE aside for now. Although we didn't do a formal curriculum for writing for that whole year, one thing ds liked was the book Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye. I highly recommend it for reluctant writers. Ds found her writing games very fun and was always willing to give them a try.

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Lace- does the neuro psych not help you with what the next steps are after diagnosis? Or have you just not got that far in the process yet? Thanks for sharing your story and good luck!

 

Arcadia- that is wild you could see swelling! I think you are right about her brain churning faster than her hand.

 

OhElizabeth- I am definitely going to talk to her ped about evals. You're right. I can and should do better to meet my daughter's needs. Its really crummy that I couldn't take the leap all by myself. I had to hear it from those with experience that could tell me it will be okay. I had to hear it from people who have gotten permission from experts to go outside the box. I hate that I couldn't just do it and be confident that we'd find our way. I like that rock star thing. I think that will serve me well as a barometer for me to see whether im on the right track with my choices and what we are doing day to day. Thank you too, for detailing what you've done with your dd over the years. I'm making a spreadsheet with all the ideas in this thread. So helpful. I was in this frustrated circle of "this isn't working!!!!" but couldn't clear my brain to figure out the next step.

 

Eagle- that's amazing!!! Imaginative stories like that don't come naturally to my dd. Any story she would come up with would be about a mommy and daddy and they had 3 babies then moved to a bigger house. (Our family's basic story) Maybe something about a king and a queen (doing something she wishes I'd let her do, of course). With how great she reads and how much she loves the stories she reads, I think there is potential to unlock some more creativity and enjoyment for writing.

 

Thanks again all for all your experience and suggestions. My Amazon cart is getting very full!! :D

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Just your tip of the day, but you can do advanced searches of various boards here or even a site search and limit it to usernames.  So, for instance, you want to know everything I ever posted about writing (mercy, lol), you could put into your google search bar "ohelizabeth writing site:welltrainedmind.com" I've done this with various people.  It's a quick way to see interesting posts and see how things turned out, what they tried.  I've done it over the years with a variety of posters when I was researching math, writing, etc.  When I want to be inspired, that's how I do it, with site searches.   :)

 

PS.  Don't be so perfectionist!  We all learn and grow in this!  Mistakes are, as Cathy Duffy says, payments in the University of Home Ed.  :D

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Lace- does the neuro psych not help you with what the next steps are after diagnosis? Or have you just not got that far in the process yet? Thanks for sharing your story and good luck!

 

Arcadia- that is wild you could see swelling! I think you are right about her brain churning faster than her hand.

 

OhElizabeth- I am definitely going to talk to her ped about evals. You're right. I can and should do better to meet my daughter's needs. Its really crummy that I couldn't take the leap all by myself. I had to hear it from those with experience that could tell me it will be okay. I had to hear it from people who have gotten permission from experts to go outside the box. I hate that I couldn't just do it and be confident that we'd find our way. I like that rock star thing. I think that will serve me well as a barometer for me to see whether im on the right track with my choices and what we are doing day to day. Thank you too, for detailing what you've done with your dd over the years. I'm making a spreadsheet with all the ideas in this thread. So helpful. I was in this frustrated circle of "this isn't working!!!!" but couldn't clear my brain to figure out the next step.

 

Eagle- that's amazing!!! Imaginative stories like that don't come naturally to my dd. Any story she would come up with would be about a mommy and daddy and they had 3 babies then moved to a bigger house. (Our family's basic story) Maybe something about a king and a queen (doing something she wishes I'd let her do, of course). With how great she reads and how much she loves the stories she reads, I think there is potential to unlock some more creativity and enjoyment for writing.

 

Thanks again all for all your experience and suggestions. My Amazon cart is getting very full!! :D

 

We haven't gotten that far yet.  So far we've done the testing and had one follow up meeting going over basics.  I'm still waiting on the full report.  I don't know if it normally takes this long, but testing was almost 2 months ago.

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We haven't gotten that far yet.  So far we've done the testing and had one follow up meeting going over basics.  I'm still waiting on the full report.  I don't know if it normally takes this long, but testing was almost 2 months ago.

Sounds like you need to call and remind the psych.  I've had to pressure both the swanky psychs we used to get the reports.  I swear they take the money and don't care, lol.

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We haven't gotten that far yet. So far we've done the testing and had one follow up meeting going over basics. I'm still waiting on the full report. I don't know if it normally takes this long, but testing was almost 2 months ago.

Come back here and update if you can. I'm curious about what comes after a diagnosis like that.

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My DS11 did grammar separately from writing. He intuits grammar from reading and schoolhouse rocks videos on YouTube helped. He did diagramming in 2nd and 3rd then we continue with just proofreading after that. He made his own Mad Libs for us so that was creative writing. I let him do a lot of free write so he wrote some choose your own adventure style books.

 

My DS10 isn't a reluctant reader but he writes fast without editing mentally. So for him proofreading and revising his writing is what he needs to improve on.

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I am sure there are countless threads on this topic. I've read quite a few. But today's drama is bringing me to post our situation and get some specific feedback.

 

Here's what went down this morning. Dd bounds in the room with an old 4x2 dry erase board and wants to make a to-do list for her ongoing project. She wants me to write out the list, then she'll copy it on the board so all the spelling is correct. Fine by me. In my mind, I was already planning on doing her LA lesson orally since she was so excited about this list. I wrote it on a small white board on the fridge. On her board, she wrote:

 

A*****'s to do list:

 

Then slapped the magnetic list I wrote on her large board!!!!

 

So I calmly told her "hey this was something you wanted to do and I fully support your interests and I'll let you skip the writing in LA today but don't give up on this so easily." Then the whining and tears started about it being too many words. Guys, this was a basic list. 4 bullet points. Small words. Do this. Do that. Then the other.

 

Still crying, she starts on task 1. I brought out my super special mommy's only colorful dry erase markers and said maybe this will help make it more fun. Each task can be a different color. She perked up at that idea. But then moved on to crying again and needing a snack break. Ok. 5 min snack break. Then a bathroom break. I set a timer and stopped and started it to account for every break. Bullet point 2 and the first half of point 3 took her TWENTY MINUTES!!! 6 words. Then she just totally vanished taking advantage of the nursing baby I was putting to sleep.

 

There are all sorts of punctuation errors, capital letters in the middle of words, all from copying my correct list!!

 

I get the idea that some of this is pushed too young on kids but she was copying mine. The correct information was right there. This was something she thought of on her own and wanted to do but her lack of stamina for writing was enough to cause her to give up. I hate to see that attitude in her. I want her to challenge herself for the things she loves. That doesn't seem crazy to me. Maybe I'm missing something though.

 

I'll just add quickly that writing is a daily battle. I constantly cut down the amount required in the lesson. We tried our first dictation a few months ago and I nearly had a nervous breakdown it was soooo rough. I can add more details on what we've done if needed.

 

At this point, I'm willing to try anything. More, less, radical, hard core, whatever. If there are essays, lectures, podcasts, you think will help, send them my way.

 

I've read the intro to WWE AGAIN and I don't know, I just need something new to read/try. Tia for any suggestions. :)

Oh my this sounds just like my Dd at 7-8! I just kept on insisting on some progress and tried to avoid power struggles. I didn't always succeed, of course. At about age 9 1/2, she miraculously began to be able to write without tears and is making lots of progress. Hugs to you mama!

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The whiteboard story made me literally LOL. DD/2nd would totally do something like that. :laugh:

 

Mine grumbles about copywork, math, or pretty much anything that looks like work. She's also quite stubborn. What worked best for her this year was a vintage language book, Primary Lessons in Language and Composition by Maxwell. It's free to download on Google Books. There was some complaining, but the lessons varied enough that we never hit a roadblock. She's a fabulous reader, and a decent little writer, but I don't require original content or dictation from her yet. Copywork and language lessons are plenty for second grade. For third I'll put her in Treasured Conversations.

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Ok, here's another question: so many programs integrate writing with grammar. How do those of you with reluctant writers approach grammar? Just keep it separate, do it mostly oral? Or something like Fix it Grammar or Mad Libs? Or a 3rd way I haven't thought of? :)

 

I've been following along in this thread. I have a girl whose writing I'm making myself not worry about because she's still young.

 

But she was ready and asking for more language arts stuff, and I chose to do MCT specifically because it has so very little written output in the first level. We did the 4-level sentence analysis together on the whiteboard and I would write down the labels she told me. We would do some of the playing with sentences in Sentence Island using magnetic poetry.

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My (then) 2nd-grader was not even doing copywork last year. We were still working on basic strokes in a handwriting program. We did lots of reading and some oral narrating. I was sorely tempted to panic but I wanted to give the "developmental readiness" theory a try. This year, in 3rd grade, his handwriting has taken off and he does daily copywork and dictation. I posted a sample of his work here. It is not a lot in quantity, but I think it is high quality for a 3rd-grade boy.

 

I don't recommend any grammar until 3rd or 4th grade, and then we do The Sentence Family. It is cute and fun, and requires no writing except for a few basic diagrams.

 

One skill your DD needs for school is that of doing what she doesn't feel like doing. However the best way to learn that at this age is through an avenue such as chores. If she hasn't learned grit in something that she already knows, it will be impossible in something that is challenging for her.

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All 3 of my kids hate writing.... with a capital H. One is dyslexic, one is gifted and one has poor fine motor skills.

 

Honestly the tears and hating became too much so I just gave up on it for now.

 

Suddenly they are writing on their own now I no longer require it.

 

Seriously, my gifted child cried for half an hour because I asked him to write two sentences in a journal. Yet two hours later he sat down and wrote a 3 page story of his own free will and I just shake my head.

 

My other two kids rarely write anything ... I'm not pushing it for now. I am currently taking University courses and there are tons of remedial writing classes available, with tons of students taking them, all who passed through 12 years of public school with heaps of writing experience but still cant write properly.

 

I hate writing myself and only do it when required but still get top marks for my essays.

 

Some people will just always hate it.

 

Focus on the skills for now rather then the actual doing. It will all come together soon enough. I believe reading is more beneficial to learning to write well anyway..so keep reading a lot to your uninspired writer and keep giving heaps of fine motor activities to strengthen those hands.

 

I agree with a PP. My dd was like yours. No punctuation, random capitals everywhere, etc. We started using Sequential Spelling and in just one month she has improved in her writing so much. If your dd has a hard time spelling, writing will be incredibly difficult. Even copying is hard...because she doesnt know how to keep chunks in her head if she cant spell, which means she will look back and forth at each individual letter , which is tiring, difficult if you keep loosing your place and which will,take them forever to copy one sentence. If you can spell well you can copy easily because you just have to remember a few words at a time as you copy them. If you cant spell you are trying to remember a random bunch of letters that dont make sense to you and will need to copy each and every letter looking back and forth for each one. Work on the spelling and copying and writing will become easier.

 

Watch your DD as she copies. If she is looking back and forth for each individual letter or close to it...she has a spelling problem. She cant hold enough of the word in her head to make copying easy and quick.

 

A kid who cant spell cannot do dictation. Don't try it.

Edited by sewingmama
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Have you heard of Brave Writer? It was formed by Julie Bogart who homeschool 3 (or maybe 4) children all the way through. One had dyslexia and another had ADHD. She has online courses, a subscription based system that send you assignments, and a book/curriculum you can pull from. She also does a lot of periscopes and youtube videos with that have a lot of really helpful information. She has a great system for reluctant writers and builds on the relationship between the parent and child through writing. It is beautiful. I highly recommend checking out her site. 

 

http://www.bravewriter.com

 

 

 

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A kid who cant spell cannot do dictation. Don't try it.

100% agree. I have 3 dyslexics and dictation is definitely not an approach I would have used with them. It would be a nightmare experience for all of us.

 

For my dyslexics and struggling writers, approaching writing in small incremental steps of mastery was the only way to build confidence and success. One small baby step at a time. One small skill mastered at a time. Focused repetition.

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My first thought is that I suspect this is not at all abnormal.  I know quite a few people who use a less-is-more approach with writing up through grade two or three, and whose kids went on to be able to write without a problem.  I think with this the principle of not asking for more than they can do perfectly is a good one - even if it just means one word copied with the right spelling and capitalization.

 

My eldest daughter was more amenable but I still noticed a big leap in her mechanical writing ability at about nine or ten when she first started showing signs of puberty.

 

My second thought is that spelling seems to make some children really hesitate, though less with copywork and more with dictation.  We used Sequential Spelling (just the paper version) and it really helped, but with spelling programs it really seems to make a big difference how the child learns.  My dd is a highly visual learner. (And apparently highly visual learners tend to give up on things like writing or other problem-solving if they can't "see" a solution right away ) and SS was ideal for that.

 

My third thought is that I've found that sometimes I have to really think about being explicit about how to do things.  Something like capitalization might seem simple and obvious to me, but it isn't always to a child.  With things like copywork, it isn't enough to copy, you have to point out the patterns you want them to notice ("?" comes at the end of a question.)  Often you have to do this before they copy, or they filter things out - they don't realize that they are important information.

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All 3 of my kids hate writing.... with a capital H. One is dyslexic, one is gifted and one has poor fine motor skills.

 

Honestly the tears and hating became too much so I just gave up on it for now.

 

Suddenly they are writing on their own now I no longer require it.

 

Seriously, my gifted child cried for half an hour because I asked him to write two sentences in a journal. Yet two hours later he sat down and wrote a 3 page story of his own free will and I just shake my head.

 

My other two kids rarely write anything ... I'm not pushing it for now. I am currently taking University courses and there are tons of remedial writing classes available, with tons of students taking them, all who passed through 12 years of public school with heaps of writing experience but still cant write properly.

 

I hate writing myself and only do it when required but still get top marks for my essays.

 

Some people will just always hate it.

 

Focus on the skills for now rather then the actual doing. It will all come together soon enough. I believe reading is more beneficial to learning to write well anyway..so keep reading a lot to your uninspired writer and keep giving heaps of fine motor activities to strengthen those hands.

 

I agree with a PP. My dd was like yours. No punctuation, random capitals everywhere, etc. We started using Sequential Spelling and in just one month she has improved in her writing so much. If your dd has a hard time spelling, writing will be incredibly difficult. Even copying is hard...because she doesnt know how to keep chunks in her head if she cant spell, which means she will look back and forth at each individual letter , which is tiring, difficult if you keep loosing your place and which will,take them forever to copy one sentence. If you can spell well you can copy easily because you just have to remember a few words at a time as you copy them. If you cant spell you are trying to remember a random bunch of letters that dont make sense to you and will need to copy each and every letter looking back and forth for each one. Work on the spelling and copying and writing will become easier.

 

Watch your DD as she copies. If she is looking back and forth for each individual letter or close to it...she has a spelling problem. She cant hold enough of the word in her head to make copying easy and quick.

 

A kid who cant spell cannot do dictation. Don't try it.

 

I found Sequential Spelling amazing for us.  DD11 was really struggling with writing, even for herself, and asked for a targeted spelling program.  We also saw significant improvements within a month, which amazed me because really not that much had been covered.

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Thanks everyone for the great feedback and suggestions!

 

Arcadia- schoolhouse rock vids are great! How did I not know about this?! Thanks!

 

MotherGoose- thanks for the encouragement. So glad things are improving for your dd. (and you :D)

 

Silver Moon- our dd's sound a LOT alike! Mine doesn't like anything that looks like work either. She grumbles about math but then gets excited when something clicks and she wants to keep going. Writing? Nope. Not gonna happen. :S

 

Jackie- I love the magnetic poetry idea! Dd will be all over that! Off to finally look at MCT...

 

Birchbark- your ds' sample looks great! I would be thrilled if dd could produce something that long and neat a year from now! And yes, whether she realizes it or not, I have increased her workload around the house since the 1st of the year since we have such a relaxed school atmosphere.

 

Sewingmama and Blue Goat- I like the product description I read of Sequential Spelling. We are using Spelling Workout now am I'm not really in love with it. I will give her a little copywork tomorrow and watch while she does it to see if she's copying letters or words.

 

Dragonfly mom- yes! I've browsed the Bravewriter website and caught a few of her Periscopes but none were about writing! Lol! We do poetry tea once a week. I knew as soon as I read about it on the website, dd would love it. It's been a great addition to our weeks. I've steered clear of the writing materials because I thought they were creative writing assignments and I can barely get dd to put pen to paper at all much less come up with an original writing idea. But maybe I need to check it out again. The site was a little confusing.

 

8- don't worry, I'm not going anywhere near another dictation for a good long time!

 

So here's what I've done so far this week:

 

1. I doubled up on spelling lessons. So she did 2 10 min lessons back to back each day. I actually think she liked this better!

 

2. I asked her to join us for ds' preschool memory game because it would be "more fun" with more players ;). She started off pretty rocky but once she got the hang of it, she had to resist giving ds help on his turns! Today she asked if we were going to play one of the memory games again and if so, could we wait til she was done with her math lesson so she could play with us? (Eeekkk!!!) Really excited about the games I ordered geared for her age group.

 

3. I picked up these books at the grocery store, of all places, and stashed them for a rainy day. I pulled them out and let her loose with them. The cover just says "doodle, draw, create" and there are prompts for drawing and writing. "Create a dragon. What is its special ability?" Done! She chatted endlessly about her dragon and all the details. "Design a couch. Be sure to include comfy pillows." Check. The books have little doodles in the corners or maybe a few shwoopy lines across the page for you to turn into something. She's loving them and getting in the fine motor skills activity she needs.

 

4. I put all LA away. I'm calling the above LA in my records for now and will add things back in as it feels right.

 

5. I've encouraged her with her reading. I feel like that's where she's already a "rock star" right this minute. So I've had a few chatty conversations about her current chapter book outside of school time. I think she really loves it when we just have a grown up chat like that and then she devours even more books and comes to talk to me about what's going on in the story. Even if she is never a strong writer or never likes to write, I think she'll be okay because she loves to read.

 

I feel so much better already. I still am reading old threads and whatnot and nailing down what to try next curriculum-wise but I feel like we can do this. I need to keep realistic expectations and stay diligent but I'm optimistic. Thanks so much everyone!!

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