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Writing Program for VERY reluctant/delayed 8 year old - dysgraphia?


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I am searching high and low for a writing curriculum that I think would help my son.  He is 8 1/2 and in 3rd grade, but his writing looks like a kindergarteners on a good day.  And he really struggles with organizing thoughts to put into writing.  He may be considered dysgraphic, though I have never had him evaluated for that.

 

I am looking for a program that will really lay out all of the steps and build incrementally.  I've tried the more open-ended approach with Brave Writer and free writing and giving writing prompts.  We are working through BJU level 2 and Moving Beyond the Page language arts as well, but none of this is clicking with him and it seems to be making it worse.

 

For example, today we read a short chapter from Story of the World and he was just supposed to write a few sentences about Alexander the Great.  Now, if I ask him questions, he has NO problem answering them.  Even if they are more open-ended kind of questions.  He can verbalize easily...and I have spent the last 2 years letting him mostly dictate and I help guide his thinking.  But when he tries to even write one sentence alone, it either isn't a complete sentence (not even close), or it is a complete sentence, but it has nothing to do with the assignment.

 

He was supposed to write a couplet about weather the other day, picking a type of weather and choosing some rhyming words that went along with that type of weather.  he was able to choose the kind of weather and even a list of rhyming words.  But man....there was NO way to get him to understand that he was supposed to use THOSE rhyming words he came up with, to write a couplet about that kind of weather.  He would either write a sentence fragment that didn't rhyme, or he would come up with a couplet that didn't have anything to do with weather, etc.  Later that day, he read a couplet on a cereal box and came running to tell me that he found a couplet about weather!  It was about snow (he was writing about rain)...so I ended up letting him copy it for his couplet.

 

I am considering Essentials in Writing because it is DVD based and MAYBE having someone else trying to teach him would be better for him....?

I'm also considering WriteShop Primary Level B.  But I really don't want to be bogged down with crafty things, as he has a really hard time with fine motor and that wouldn't be helpful.

 

I do NOT like IEW, so even though I have it, I don't want to use that one.

 

Please help!

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He might benefit from Writing Tales. It's very incremental, starting with copying and reselling stories and slowly, slowly over the year learning how to write his own. There is a lot of hand-holding, but it's mixed with hands on activities and games- things like putting sentence strips in order and pulling punctuation out of a hat. We used the first book when my my oldest was in 5th and it was a godsend. It's meant for 3rd to 4th graders, though.

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I used Writing Tales with a reluctant writer and it was wonderful.

 

I also think Just Write might be good to look at. The books are super cheap on Amazon marketplace. Last year, for fourth grade, I started with the Just Write 1 paragraph sections and finished Just Write 2 with my second reluctant writer who refused to use Writing Tales. It has even more supports and is less stressful. I got no complaints.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Write-Book-Creativity-Writing/dp/0838826253/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471307279&sr=8-1&keywords=just+write+1

 

I plan on using Just Write 3 this year.

 

I also have her do copywork from Modern Speller. She liked this, too.

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I am searching high and low for a writing curriculum that I think would help my son.  He is 8 1/2 and in 3rd grade, but his writing looks like a kindergarteners on a good day.  And he really struggles with organizing thoughts to put into writing.  He may be considered dysgraphic, though I have never had him evaluated for that.

 

I am looking for a program that will really lay out all of the steps and build incrementally.  I've tried the more open-ended approach with Brave Writer and free writing and giving writing prompts.  We are working through BJU level 2 and Moving Beyond the Page language arts as well, but none of this is clicking with him and it seems to be making it worse.

 

For example, today we read a short chapter from Story of the World and he was just supposed to write a few sentences about Alexander the Great.  Now, if I ask him questions, he has NO problem answering them.  Even if they are more open-ended kind of questions.  He can verbalize easily...and I have spent the last 2 years letting him mostly dictate and I help guide his thinking.  But when he tries to even write one sentence alone, it either isn't a complete sentence (not even close), or it is a complete sentence, but it has nothing to do with the assignment.

 

He was supposed to write a couplet about weather the other day, picking a type of weather and choosing some rhyming words that went along with that type of weather.  he was able to choose the kind of weather and even a list of rhyming words.  But man....there was NO way to get him to understand that he was supposed to use THOSE rhyming words he came up with, to write a couplet about that kind of weather.  He would either write a sentence fragment that didn't rhyme, or he would come up with a couplet that didn't have anything to do with weather, etc.  Later that day, he read a couplet on a cereal box and came running to tell me that he found a couplet about weather!  It was about snow (he was writing about rain)...so I ended up letting him copy it for his couplet.

 

I am considering Essentials in Writing because it is DVD based and MAYBE having someone else trying to teach him would be better for him....?

I'm also considering WriteShop Primary Level B.  But I really don't want to be bogged down with crafty things, as he has a really hard time with fine motor and that wouldn't be helpful.

 

I do NOT like IEW, so even though I have it, I don't want to use that one.

 

Please help!

 

:grouphug:

 

Essentials in Writing probably won't provide enough scaffolding for a child with difficulty in written expression.  I've tried it for my kiddo with LDs. 

 

Perhaps take some time and just focus on handwriting.  Handwriting without Tears was a godsend for us.  Imagine how hard composition must be when you're also having to concentrate on how to properly form your letters.  It must be exhausting for him!

 

Since oral narrations are a strength of his, perhaps you could begin writing down his narrations for him. Narrations (oral),  copywork, and eventually prepared diction are enough at his age and will give him a great foundation.

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does using a key board help at all? Especially if he is good at orally answer questions, using a keyboard can take away the problem of having to form letters. My younger son worked with an OT due to handwriting issues and she suggested I get him on a keyboard ASAP.  If he had been in a classroom they would have had to accommodate him for that.

 

A friend whose son was having many, many issues with writing worked with a specialized tutor and an OT and the tutor used WWE. Even though her son was in third or fourth grade at the time, they started with WWE1. They took it way slow with no pressure 'turning incoherent words into thoughts, putting words onto paper' step by step. There was other stuff as well, but that was what the tutor used in his practice

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I found Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) the best to use for my reluctant writers.

 

The Key Word Outline method where you take an original sentence, pull key words out of it and then make a new sentence (first orally and then written) will help him learn to write sentences while having some structure.

 

He would need to stay at the first unit or 2 until he can write sentences, so the least expensive way to do it would be to see if someone you know has used the method and could teach you how to do it. Then when he can write sentences, you could invest more in the program.

 

Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye has some fun games in it for learning to write sentences. We have a game called Silly Sentences by DK that it good for making sentences. You chose a subject, verb, prepositions, nouns and adjectives and fit them together like a puzzle. You could make your own and then have him copy the sentences he makes.

 

I wouldn't invest much in a program until he can write a sentence, though. Most programs just breeze through sentences for the first couple of weeks.

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I am following this. Right now, I am using Write Shop Junior D with a 7th griade reluctant writer. I'm thinking this is going to help her be a little less reluctant. We might need some other things added in eventually. I plan to work in Write Shop Primary A and C for my two youngest.

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We have tried copywork and dictating all of his things to me for the last 2 years, but I'm seeing NO progress...and his organizational skills are just so strange.  I can ask him questions about what we read, or about the topic to be written about, and he can answer them correctly (doesn't use a complete sentence).  But when he is supposed to come up with complete sentences, he is all over the place.

 

Of course, not when he's just carrying on a regular conversation - he is a GREAT talker.  But he can't explain how to do things in a proper order...never ever ask him to explain complicated board games!  LOL!  He can play them better than anyone, but he could never explain how to do it in a way that you'd understand :)

 

I may just try IEW with him and see.....I HATED it for my daughter though....but maybe it will help him.

 

I am really interested in WriteShop for him...probably level B for him and D for my 9 1/2 year old who is much better at putting it all together.  It seems like it might give him piece by piece a process for writing...but I don't know :(

 

I am trying to get him to learn to type, but he still can't deal with the organizing of the information.

In fact, today I tried a free voice-text app on the tablet, and that did help a lot...but he still needed tons of help putting sentences together.  But of course it wasn't a very good app and so it didn't usually understand a lot of what he said, which led to tons of laughter and I couldn't keep him focused on it long enough to get complete sentences....but it did seem a little better for him.  I'm thinking about getting that Dragon Naturally Speaking program for the computer so that he can just talk and it will type for him....

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We have tried copywork and dictating all of his things to me for the last 2 years, but I'm seeing NO progress...and his organizational skills are just so strange.  I can ask him questions about what we read, or about the topic to be written about, and he can answer them correctly (doesn't use a complete sentence).  But when he is supposed to come up with complete sentences, he is all over the place.

 

Of course, not when he's just carrying on a regular conversation - he is a GREAT talker.  But he can't explain how to do things in a proper order...never ever ask him to explain complicated board games!  LOL!  He can play them better than anyone, but he could never explain how to do it in a way that you'd understand :)

 

I may just try IEW with him and see.....I HATED it for my daughter though....but maybe it will help him.

 

I am really interested in WriteShop for him...probably level B for him and D for my 9 1/2 year old who is much better at putting it all together.  It seems like it might give him piece by piece a process for writing...but I don't know :(

 

I am trying to get him to learn to type, but he still can't deal with the organizing of the information.

In fact, today I tried a free voice-text app on the tablet, and that did help a lot...but he still needed tons of help putting sentences together.  But of course it wasn't a very good app and so it didn't usually understand a lot of what he said, which led to tons of laughter and I couldn't keep him focused on it long enough to get complete sentences....but it did seem a little better for him.  I'm thinking about getting that Dragon Naturally Speaking program for the computer so that he can just talk and it will type for him....

From what you say, I would also add times when he needs to answer you in complete sentences--that will help him figure out what a complete sentence is.

 

Also, have him practice telling things in order. Maybe start by writing down the order (3 steps and then work up). Cut into strips. Work with him to arrange them in order and then have him read them outloud and then retell without looking at them.

 

Have you had him evaluated--speech and dysgraphia? I would recommend it with an 8 year old who can't make a sentence. (Former primary school teacher here with a family full of dyslexics)

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For youngest at that age (delayed because of visual tracking issues) we will still doing mostly copy work and dictation. When he occasionally had to write something himself I just told him something similar to, "look out the window and write one sentence about the weather. If you can't spell a word say it outloud and I will spell it for you". He would then write very short sentences such as, "It is raining." He sentences rarely got over six words. I found that was enough to work on various things.

 

For awhile he kept a journal. The deal was I would illustrate any sentence he wrote.

 

He is now about to finish WWE level 3 and going to start IEW CC B. It is a similar route that his brother took, but at a slower pace. It seemed to have worked out well for his brother so I'm assuming it will work out for him.

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Those are some great ideas!

 

He hasn't been evaluated for speech or for dysgraphia...he was evaluated for overall delays, which found him VERY delayed in fine motor skills.  He functions great in every other aspect of life (maybe other than his nonstop talking lol).  But he talks normally, just not when it needs to be more structured if that makes sense.  Just carrying on a conversation he does very well and you'd never suspect that he has such challenges writing.  Unless you ask him HOW to do something where you need it told in order.  He jumbles it all up I think because he can't slow down enough.  His brain goes a mile a minute.

 

He can look at sentences and fragments and know which are sentences and which aren't.  He understands the concept, but doesn't seem to be able to hold that in his head while trying to come up with a structured sentence for writing. 

 

And he CAN write, it's just very messy and hard to read.  He writes for math every day, and it is slowly getting better I think....but he is great at math, so he doesn't have to think so hard about the WHAT to write for that.

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If he can't come up with complete sentences, have him come up with ONE complete sentence.

 

Is he rock-solid on what constitutes a complete sentence?

 

Have him tell you one complete sentence, out loud.

 

You write it down, then have him read it from your paper.

 

Then have him copy it.

 

Did he feel comfortable writing? I mean the physical act. Did he know how to hold a pencil and form letters and punctuation?

 

Iow. Start where he is. If he doesn't "get" sentences, then back up till he does.

 

If he can speak but not write, show him... Physically in front of him, how to turn what he says into something he can write.

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I didn't read all the replies.

But I would suggest wwe .

 

It's a short excerpt from a classic book then ask scripted questions about the text. Has the answers too so it really hones in on the detsils we should b looking for.

 

It has them answer in complete sentences , thsts prewriting.

 

After awhile of using this technique you could then have him write the answers on a white board.

Whiteboards are a smoother glide and kids love them over paper and pencil .

 

It took time with my dysgraphia boys ...they do great with it now.

We just took it to paper and pencil from the whiteboards and they wrote a whole book! With well constructed sentences good punctuation etc,

 

I was shocked.

The thing about wwe is swb knows the detsils to elicit from early /prewriters and provides the answers so we moms are sure to target the important facts/details.

 

I don't think it's unusual for boys this age to be reluctant.

WWE is an awesome program to get over this hump and it builds incrementally.

I think you'll be happy with it. It does the trick and the whiteboard glides so nicely and boys love it.

 

Then as they are comfortable they can take it to paper and pencil.

Or colored pencils lol. That's what we use, makes it fun for them.

 

Again though, boys are more reluctant, eap at this age.

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I agree that he needs to be sure what a complete sentence is and that he probably needs to go back to writing single sentences for a while. But, is he also reading back to you what he has written? My daughter, also 8.5 makes a lot of mistakes in her writing. Usually I make her leave it for a day and then the next day we go back to it - I get her to read the question or assignment again and then read her response out loud to me and circle any errors she finds and then edit it. I find she is able to see her own errors even though often she is unable to fix them without help (esp spelling errors), but she needs the gap between the effort of writing it all down and then having to be critical of the work that she found hard to do the day before. Sometimes we may take 3 days over it - fixing the errors the 2nd day by scribbling in the correction and rewriting on the third day where it is just copywork.

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Honestly, I'd keep working on handwriting and copywork. Let him narrate to you, you write it, and then he can copy it. As posted above, if the sentences are out of order, print them out and have him re-order them until the flow makes sense. Then let him copy (and this might be more than one day's LA if it's taxing--it might be one day to narrate, one day to order, one or two days to copy, for example. Break it up as much as he needs.)

 

Or, if he does incomplete sentences, still write what he says, and then work with him to make them complete sentences. 

 

Encourage and praise him along the way--each of these steps are very difficult for him. I know it *feels* like a lot of time that you've done copywork, but you started in first grade--which is pretty young. Some kids really aren't ready for much writing at this age. My goal for my struggling writer in 3rd grade was to be able to increase stamina--copying a short, 4-sentence paragraph. He started the year only having stamina for 2 sentences. We continued to work on narrating where I scribed for a couple more years. I say that just to say--don't feel like you *have* to move on now to composition. 

 

How is spelling for him--is it easy or really hard? If it's hard, make sure to work on spelling. When spelling is easier, it takes another burden off of writing--the student doesn't have to put thought energy into thinking how to put the words on paper. 

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I am searching high and low for a writing curriculum that I think would help my son.  He is 8 1/2 and in 3rd grade, but his writing looks like a kindergarteners on a good day.  And he really struggles with organizing thoughts to put into writing.  He may be considered dysgraphic, though I have never had him evaluated for that.

 

I am looking for a program that will really lay out all of the steps and build incrementally.  I've tried the more open-ended approach with Brave Writer and free writing and giving writing prompts.  We are working through BJU level 2 and Moving Beyond the Page language arts as well, but none of this is clicking with him and it seems to be making it worse.

 

For example, today we read a short chapter from Story of the World and he was just supposed to write a few sentences about Alexander the Great.  Now, if I ask him questions, he has NO problem answering them.  Even if they are more open-ended kind of questions.  He can verbalize easily...and I have spent the last 2 years letting him mostly dictate and I help guide his thinking.  But when he tries to even write one sentence alone, it either isn't a complete sentence (not even close), or it is a complete sentence, but it has nothing to do with the assignment.

 

He was supposed to write a couplet about weather the other day, picking a type of weather and choosing some rhyming words that went along with that type of weather.  he was able to choose the kind of weather and even a list of rhyming words.  But man....there was NO way to get him to understand that he was supposed to use THOSE rhyming words he came up with, to write a couplet about that kind of weather.  He would either write a sentence fragment that didn't rhyme, or he would come up with a couplet that didn't have anything to do with weather, etc.  Later that day, he read a couplet on a cereal box and came running to tell me that he found a couplet about weather!  It was about snow (he was writing about rain)...so I ended up letting him copy it for his couplet.

 

I am considering Essentials in Writing because it is DVD based and MAYBE having someone else trying to teach him would be better for him....?

I'm also considering WriteShop Primary Level B.  But I really don't want to be bogged down with crafty things, as he has a really hard time with fine motor and that wouldn't be helpful.

 

I do NOT like IEW, so even though I have it, I don't want to use that one.

 

Please help!

 

I'm pretty sure that I would not have been able to write a couplet about the weather when I was 8, and I had a pretty good education. I don't think that was an age-appropriate assignment at all. o_0 It seems to me you have pretty high--and possibly unreasonable--expectations. I haven't read the other replies yet, so maybe I'm way out in left field on this, but it is still what I think.

 

My suggestion would be Level 3 Writing Strands. Maybe even level 2.

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If he's struggling with basics, I would recommend starting with https://www.amazon.com/Write-Super-Sentence-Evan-Moor/dp/1557996067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471321033&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+write+a+super+sentence and nailing down sentence writing before moving on to bigger "chunks." Also, if you suspect dysgraphia, try to separate the physical act of writing from the writing process. Perhaps he could dictate to you (or a computer, if you want to remove yourself from the process and foster independence), then revise/correct the paragraph that he has dictated, then finally copy the revised/corrected version in his own writing.

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I'm pretty sure that I would not have been able to write a couplet about the weather when I was 8, and I had a pretty good education. I don't think that was an age-appropriate assignment at all. o_0 It seems to me you have pretty high--and possibly unreasonable--expectations. I haven't read the other replies yet, so maybe I'm way out in left field on this, but it is still what I think.

 

My suggestion would be Level 3 Writing Strands. Maybe even level 2.

This is my thought too. I delay formal writing instruction until at least age ten. We do NO writing assignments like you are describing. Zip zero zilch. Oral narrations and copy work until age 10. I do not believe it is fruitful to push writing too soon.

 

I have had two do college level English in High school with As and one self published a novel at age 15 and is now majoring in English and wants to be a writer. It did not hurt them. The pushing of writing before their development was ready for it might have hurt them. Please listen to Andrew Pudewa's talk "nurturing competent communicators" even if you don't want to use the program.

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Remedia Publications stuff might help. But if he doesn't have to go to b&m school I would say look at WWE. If he does have to go to school EiW did help my son but he was mainly lacking in confidence and needed some support.

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We have tried copywork and dictating all of his things to me for the last 2 years, but I'm seeing NO progress...and his organizational skills are just so strange.  I can ask him questions about what we read, or about the topic to be written about, and he can answer them correctly (doesn't use a complete sentence).  But when he is supposed to come up with complete sentences, he is all over the place.

 

Of course, not when he's just carrying on a regular conversation - he is a GREAT talker.  But he can't explain how to do things in a proper order...never ever ask him to explain complicated board games!  LOL!  He can play them better than anyone, but he could never explain how to do it in a way that you'd understand :)

 

I may just try IEW with him and see.....I HATED it for my daughter though....but maybe it will help him.

 

I am really interested in WriteShop for him...probably level B for him and D for my 9 1/2 year old who is much better at putting it all together.  It seems like it might give him piece by piece a process for writing...but I don't know :(

 

I am trying to get him to learn to type, but he still can't deal with the organizing of the information.

In fact, today I tried a free voice-text app on the tablet, and that did help a lot...but he still needed tons of help putting sentences together.  But of course it wasn't a very good app and so it didn't usually understand a lot of what he said, which led to tons of laughter and I couldn't keep him focused on it long enough to get complete sentences....but it did seem a little better for him.  I'm thinking about getting that Dragon Naturally Speaking program for the computer so that he can just talk and it will type for him....

 

It's not a writing program, but I'll throw out a suggestion to look at Reading and Reasoning (by EPS, though CAP also sells it). My kid has some of the issues you're describing, and I have found R&R to be helpful for breaking down reading and writing into its discrete parts. There's another program, called Visualizing and Verbalizing, which is even more discrete, but when it gets to the 3rd grade level it requires a fair bit of writing, and I found R&R to be a better fit.

 

R&R breaks things down to its structure. Which words signal a cause-effect? Which words indicate a time order? What is THE topic of this paragraph and which sentence doesn't fit? Some kids intuit these things and can transfer them from oral to written expression, some kids don't. R&R explicitly points them out and tells how to use them in writing. 

 

R&R doesn't require a lot of handwriting. Which is good - he can just learn the info without stressing over writing "way too much." I have him do cursive copywork every day. I've largely given up on manuscript with him, every time he lifts his pencil off the page he gets lost on spacing or sizing or stroke, cursive solves some of that. If you wonder if your kid does have dysgraphia you can post a sample of his writing on the Learning Challenges board and I'm sure you'll get good advice.

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Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't choose a "writing program." I would pick up some Evan Moor writing workbooks and work through those.

 

My ds is also a delayed writer. He's 13 now. If I had it to do differently, I would have used something with explicit instruction in writing mechanics (not the "absorb through copywork" method) and something that had predictable, schooly, defined writing prompts to help him build his skills though repetition. I am familiar with a ton of elementary writing programs, and none of them would have worked (or did work) for my son as well as the few Evan Moor workbooks we used.

 

I would have made sure, from the beginning, that my son was composing original sentences, not copying someone else's or simply giving narrations. My son was never able to transfer the skill of oral narration to writing. He just learns/works/thinks differently, and now that we are using a program that has him working through explicit writing steps with direct instruction in building a sentence, his writing has jumped way ahead.

 

My son used to leave out words, leave out verbs, fail to complete thoughts, etc. I had to learn that we needed to work on very simple sentences for a long time for him to grasp the idea of what makes a complete thought/sentence. He has to have a template to work from, and it has to be very explicit. Summarizing and narrating and rewriting other people's sentences/paragraphs did not work for him.

 

You might consider teaching your son to type. My son was very resistant and still only types about half the time, but he commented yesterday that he can now type much of the time without even having to look at the keyboard.

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I'm going through a Scholastic book called Super Sentences & Perfect Paragraphs with my kids. I have an advanced-in-writing 6th grader who has done nothing formal and a possibly dysgraphic 3rd grader. It starts with simply what is a sentence and builds on it until they're writing compound sentences including lists, etc. 

 

I've seen a difference in younger's writing because I can now say "Is that a complete sentence?" and she can actually tell me yes or no and what makes a sentence - we worked on it all last year, but since starting this Scholastic book this summer, it's better.

 

 

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Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't choose a "writing program." I would pick up some Evan Moor writing workbooks and work through those.

 

My ds is also a delayed writer. He's 13 now. If I had it to do differently, I would have used something with explicit instruction in writing mechanics (not the "absorb through copywork" method) and something that had predictable, schooly, defined writing prompts to help him build his skills though repetition. I am familiar with a ton of elementary writing programs, and none of them would have worked (or did work) for my son as well as the few Evan Moor workbooks we used.

 

I would have made sure, from the beginning, that my son was composing original sentences, not copying someone else's or simply giving narrations. My son was never able to transfer the skill of oral narration to writing. He just learns/works/thinks differently, and now that we are using a program that has him working through explicit writing steps with direct instruction in building a sentence, his writing has jumped way ahead.

 

My son used to leave out words, leave out verbs, fail to complete thoughts, etc. I had to learn that we needed to work on very simple sentences for a long time for him to grasp the idea of what makes a complete thought/sentence. He has to have a template to work from, and it has to be very explicit. Summarizing and narrating and rewriting other people's sentences/paragraphs did not work for him.

 

You might consider teaching your son to type. My son was very resistant and still only types about half the time, but he commented yesterday that he can now type much of the time without even having to look at the keyboard.

What are you currently using for your 13 year old? I have a 14 year old who needs some serious help with writing.

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THAT sounds exactly like what he needs!!!!!!  Do you remember the names of any of the Evan Moore books you used?  

 

We used Write a Super Sentence and then Paragraph Writing. We never used the Daily Six-Trait Writing ones, but you might look into them.

 

Imo, which is my opinion only, a lot of the "writing curricula," especially the ones aimed at homeschoolers, expect a level of sophistication in writing that many young kids just can't attain. I have found that using workbooks focused on specific skills is more fruitful, at least for my son. My dd is a natural writer and has benefited from more traditional writing programs.

 

Btw, we also used the Writing Skills book mentioned above (we used A and B when my son was 11 and 12; he could not have done them at 8 or 9 or even 10). These books are excellent for learning format but have very little instruction in style. They are effective but very boring.  :closedeyes:

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What are you currently using for your 13 year old? I have a 14 year old who needs some serious help with writing.

 

We are using Write Shop. It is teacher intensive and a lot of work, but the payoff has been worth it. My son went, within just a few weeks, from writing with mostly sentences that began with "It has" and "There are" to using a variety of sentence types, more interesting nouns, and more specific verbs. Write Shop I focuses a lot of word choice, discourages the use of "be" words, and explicitly teaches varied sentence openings (such as paired adjectives and participial phrases). I do have to simplify the editing checklist for my son, because it's visually overwhelming, but the repeated practice of skills through the daily Skill Builders, the practice paragraph (done with the parent/teacher), the "sloppy copy" (rough draft), the revision, and (if necessary) the second revision really allows my son put what he learns into practice. The program includes extensive word lists to help students find words to describe their senses or to substitute for boring words, which stretches my son's written vocabulary (which has always been smaller than his spoken vocabulary), and so does the enforced use of a thesaurus.

 

My son didn't like WS at first, but now that he sees how his writing is improving, he tolerates it. ;)

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We used Write a Super Sentence and then Paragraph Writing. We never used the Daily Six-Trait Writing ones, but you might look into them.

 

Imo, which is my opinion only, a lot of the "writing curricula," especially the ones aimed at homeschoolers, expect a level of sophistication in writing that many young kids just can't attain. I have found that using workbooks focused on specific skills is more fruitful, at least for my son. My dd is a natural writer and has benefited from more traditional writing programs.

 

Btw, we also used the Writing Skills book mentioned above (we used A and B when my son was 11 and 12; he could not have done them at 8 or 9 or even 10). These books are excellent for learning format but have very little instruction in style. They are effective but very boring. :closedeyes:

I completely agree.

 

I think it's totally fine or even better to use a lot of hs writing curricula a couple of years "behind".

Edited by Tiramisu
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(I haven't read everything above.)

 

My DS#1 is also 8.5yo and in 3rd grade and has been diagnosed with dysgraphia.  This last spring I honestly confused his 4yo brother-with-no-handwriting-instruction's writing for his, lol!  I asked DS#1 what this jumble of barely discernible words written in a mixture of upper and lower case letters with a random-seeming incomplete thought written on the white board said and he responded that he didn't write it, DS#3 did!  Oops...

 

WWE as written was a flop for him.  He loved the stories and I do think it helped him learn to answer in complete sentences and guided him into reasonably good (oral) summaries.  However, the copy work took much to long, and in WWE2 when the program started teaching dictation he melted.  Every day was tears.  He could not write even half of what it asked him to and what he did write was just awful.

 

There are a lot of causes for writing struggles, but for my DS#1, a lot of his writing difficulties are fine-motor based.  He also seems to have a disconnect between what he thinks and his hand.  Like he can make these plans but then the message just doesn't always get to his hand intact.  We spent all summer focused on typing (using keyboarding without tears), drawing (to help with fine motor coordination in a fun, motivating, and low stress way), and HWOT cursive.  He's made HUGE progress!  The most amazing thing is that his cursive is quite legible -- no more reversals, random uppercase letters, or spacing issues!  I would not have believed learning a new, harder (IMO) way of writing would help, but it has.  The drawing seems to be helping with his planing too, because he's deciding roughly what he'll draw before he starts and sticking to it.  

 

We aren't using a writing curriculum ATM, but will likely get back into (oral) narrations from WWE and copywork (but now in cursive) pretty soon.  We are not even going to think about dictations.  I plan to start Killgallon's Elementary Sentence Composing book with him sometime in the second semester and encourage him to write (anything! and with only positive feedback) in his journal a few times each week for now.  1st semester we are going to work on making his spelling and handwriting automatic so we can maybe free up some of his working memory (which is relatively low) to make writing easier.

 

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Hang in there. My oldest is dysgraphic and your son is way ahead of where mine was at that age. My oldest can now write college level papers and has full tuition scholarships.

 

Break down writing/composition into lots of pieces:

 

Work on handwriting - do you still need a program to work on how to make letters, etc.?

 

Lots of copywork - this integrates handwriting practice with teaching spelling and grammar naturally. It's amazing how much some kids will absorb by simply copying. Begin to teach some basic grammar based on whatever they are copying.

 

Have your son dictate and you write answers for many subjects.

 

Dictate a sentence for him to write. Start one day by him doing it as copywork and then the next day you dictate it to him. Keep doing this over and over.

 

Pick something easy like one word/one sentence answers for your son to answer on his own and SLOWLY work up from there. If it is too hard for him to do on his own, you write it down and then let him copy small amounts.

 

Don't overwhelm him. IF it's hard, then believe it is HARD.  There are a lot of pieces that all have to come together before a student can be a fluent writer. Also, for many dysgraphic kids, it is helpful to teach typing.

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Download this workshop by SWB. She knows her stuff--it is so worth it.

 

https://welltrainedmind.com/p/a-plan-for-teaching-writing-focus-on-the-elementary-grades-mp3/

 

Putting original thoughts on paper in correct form is a much harder skill than most people realize. Sure, some kids come by it naturally, but many do not. Eight is very young--no need to go chasing all over for another program.

 

IEW has been a great program for my reluctant writers because it gives them a structure from which to work. But we don't start it until middle school. In the elementary years it was copywork, dictation and narration a la Writing With Ease.

Edited by mom2att
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