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AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-22-2014, 06:16 PM
Background: Writing is the one subject I worry about, since it feels like we to do it infrequently. I have one natural writer who enjoys penning her own stories and can complete writing assignments with just some gentle guidance. Getting the other kid to write anything is like pulling teeth, although he often comes up with something quite good for freewrites when he's inspired. It's hard to find a balance of frequency and difficulty for two such different writers, but I don't want to hold one back either.

For those of you with upper elementary students (grades 3 to 5):

How often to your children write? Please include written narrations, reports, journal writing, creative writing, free writes with or without prompts, assignments from a writing curriculum, etc.

Do not include copywork or dictation, please. :)

Thank you!

murphs_mom
01-22-2014, 07:45 PM
DD just turned 8 (technically her 2nd grade year), but she's finishing up her first 4th grade workbook (she does 2 different ones for each grade level). There's composition, grammar, reading, etc. in the workbook, and she finishes at least one page in each section daily. Some days she may also work on a book review, write a story to go with something she's drawn in her sketchbook, or she may rewrite a new ending for a book if the original ending wasn't to her liking. But that's her. We've got HSing friends with 5, 7, & 9yo boys who only work on writing once a week, at most. And that's what works for them.

Would your anti-writer be willing to do something if the physical act of writing weren't involved? IOW, type it, draw it, deliver it orally and you record it, etc.?

farrarwilliams
01-22-2014, 07:53 PM
My 4th graders do spelling, including several dictation sentences, every day. Probably 5-6 times a week. And there's an additional longer dictation from a book once a week.

There's also a lot of informal writing for things that happens. Logic problems, morning work, that sort of thing. And they write on their own sometimes. BalletBoy wrote two "books" (short stories is more like it) for fun in the evenings. And Mushroom used to "journal" a lot. Plus, they write these weird signs and ads all the time. And comics.

But since that's either not school writing or not original writing - it's workbook pages and dictations, I didn't count that in my answer. Other than that, I think about 4 times a week. We always have a writing project we're working on BW style. We do written narrations once a week. We do freewrites once a week. We end up writing something else maybe once a week. For example, in the last week, we spent one day's writing time writing articles for the co-op newspaper and another day revising them.

farrarwilliams
01-22-2014, 07:55 PM
You know, I would challenge you about dictations. Why not include that as writing for this age?

Avalon
01-22-2014, 08:07 PM
I have lamented many times already about the lack of writing going on in my house. If we don't count dictations and copywork, I can barely get my son to compose anything once or twice a week, and we're talking a couple of sentences at best.

hockeymom
01-22-2014, 08:09 PM
DS does dictation sentences for spelling pretty much every day, but I would count those because he goes gets creative with them and makes them longer and sillier. He uses the boring sentences as a base, if that makes sense, so I'd count it more like creative writing--it is for him, anyway.

For history he writes every day. Sometimes it's writing summaries, or on a time line, and sometimes it's longer assignments like outlining with writing topics and supporting details. He writes in science too, things like definitions and Latin or Greek roots, but less so right now.

This is the most writing intensive year by far, by design. He couldn't have done this much last year, but he's rising to the challenge now.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-22-2014, 09:07 PM
You know, I would challenge you about dictations. Why not include that as writing for this age?

It's just that we only do dictations once in a blue moon (I think we've only done two or three this school year). I didn't want to include it in the poll since it's not part of our regular writing regimen.

Actually, I don't think they even do enough to describe it as a "regimen." :p


This is the most writing intensive year by far, by design. He couldn't have done this much last year, but he's rising to the challenge now.

I'm hoping to up the amount of writing gradually, too. Do you think it was a matter of maturity for your son? Do you think Bravewriter helped? (You use it, right?).

farrarwilliams
01-22-2014, 11:04 PM
I think, at this stage, it's still quite fair to call dictation writing.

Think about it this way... There are different components to this nebulous thing called "writing." There's the mechanics piece - spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. There's the physical act - and while we often ignore it, this is still a challenge for many kids this age, even if they can do it, they're still working on stamina. And finally there's the thoughts piece, the coming up with what to say.

I think, at this stage, you're working on bringing these things together, at least sometimes. But dictation covers the first two without forcing a child to try to walk, chew gum AND whistle at the same time (just walk and chew gum!) because it practices both mechanics and physical writing. Oral narration lets a child do the biggest piece by itself - the coming up with thoughts (not to mention ordering and organizing them, choosing the vocabulary, remembering all the aspects of what they want to say, etc.). So I think it's 100% fair to count these as "writing."

And yes on the Brave Writer front. Really - it's a great resource.

dbsam
01-23-2014, 01:10 AM
I knew my 4th graders are not writing enough. But after reading this thread and the poll, I looked up 4th grade writing samples online. I hope the samples I found are not typical, because if the samples I read are what is expected from a 4th grader, my children need more writing help than I realized. :(

This is our first year HS'ing and I have not been able to cover as much as I had hoped. I guess I need to find a way to fit in more writing.

hockeymom
01-23-2014, 06:39 AM
It's just that we only do dictations once in a blue moon (I think we've only done two or three this school year). I didn't want to include it in the poll since it's not part of our regular writing regimen.

Actually, I don't think they even do enough to describe it as a "regimen." :p



I'm hoping to up the amount of writing gradually, too. Do you think it was a matter of maturity for your son? Do you think Bravewriter helped? (You use it, right?).

Yes to both. Bravewriter helped ease a lot of writing fear last year and definitely had a positive impact. But honestly I think more has--and will continue to--come with maturity and simple readiness. When I beat myself up for not starting a formal spelling program earlier, I have to remind myself that it wouldn't have done any good if I had; there's no way he could have written as much as he does even for that just last year (he does a lot more than is required in AAS). But now, he WANTS to, he's tired of asking how to spell things and is actually enjoying the art of getting words from his brain onto paper. I'm not sure he will ever become a huge writer, but the pieces are coming together.

He has a new writing style this year that seemed to develop naturally, and I think that's helping with fatigue. He's only writing with mechanical pencils now, as suggested by someone here, and that's helped tremendously. Also, he writes with his right hand (but is left handed for almost everything else--go figure!), but he holds his arm like a lefty when he writes. It's very odd but natural to him and I think it's new, for sure he isn't getting as tired as he used to (though that's relative for sure).

I think, if you can, be patient and give it time. I know it's the hardest thing, but if your son is like mine (and I think he is in many ways!), it's not gonna happen until HE decides he's ready. I have to agree with Farrar that copywork and dictations are awesome if he's willing, even just once or twice a week and gradually building up. Taking away that third piece has been critical in developing the basics for my son, anyway.

inmom
01-23-2014, 07:01 AM
I think, if you can, be patient and give it time. I know it's the hardest thing, but if your son is like mine (and I think he is in many ways!), it's not gonna happen until HE decides he's ready.

I didn't vote, as my kiddos are older. However, I wanted to share my son's story. At elementary age, he was a great reader, but he HATED to write. It was like pulling teeth. I think part of it was that his sister could write effortlessly while another part was his perfectionist tendencies. He would get a huge writer's block and not even be able to start. This was (is) especially true when he has to write about himself (now especially frustrating with college apps/scholarship essays looming).

BUT, I think writing is like reading for some....better late than early. I didn't push it (too much) and just let the writing happen on its own, when HE felt the need to write something--usually technical. Fast forward to when he just turned 16 and taking English 101 at Purdue. The kid earned an A. He knew he needed success in this core class, and he rose to the occasion.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-23-2014, 08:29 AM
Thank you, Hockeymom and Carol.

My son hated oral narrations when he was younger, but I haven't tried them in a while. We've been doing written narrations for history this school year, and there has been great improvement from both of them. It also helps them retain the information. Free writes are a crap shoot--either I get a page or two sentences, but either takes a lot of coaxing just to get him to try.

I should try mechanical pencils. My son presses really hard and his hand does get tired (he's a lefty writer that does everything else with his right hand, Hockeymom!).

Thanks for responding, everyone. I'm going to try to be consistent about writing twice a week and be patient with my reluctant writer.

hockeymom
01-23-2014, 08:42 AM
Handedness is such a weird thing! :)

Mechanical pencils have truly made an enormous difference in hand fatigue. Plus there are some cute ones available. :)

farrarwilliams
01-23-2014, 08:45 AM
Mushroom had the pressing too hard issue. Mechanical pencils didn't help. But pens did. And now he's better about it most of the time. Supposedly it's a sign of less core strength, though I'm unsure about the truthfulness of that. I mean, maybe it's one of those things like the connection between crawling longer and literacy - true for a large sample, not that meaningful for an individual child.

MrsLOLcat
01-23-2014, 10:02 AM
AMM, I'm also a lefty who uses my right for everything else, and my hand got tired, too! It was just that I didn't use it for anything else, so it took longer to build up the muscles.

We have writing projects that we work on daily. They may take weeks to complete because Wednesdays are poetry/poetry copywork days and Fridays are freewrite days, but the other three days we work on our projects. Right now we're doing book reports. Then DS uses Writing With Skill, which has him writing most days, and DD uses Writing With Ease, which is narration and dictation but I feel still counts. Oh, and they do one report on a history topic of their choosing every nine weeks, so we work on that one day per week. This week they're starting outlines/rough drafts.

But I'm a writing fiend...

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-23-2014, 01:32 PM
Thanks, Sarah. We tried "Check the Deck" last year, thinking some specific instruction would help. The kids liked the short activities, but the long assignments at the end of each chapter were too much of a leap (writing a detective story for the chapter on "voice," for example). I had them doing longer history reports last year, but we got so bogged down with them that all history stopped. The shorter narrations are working better for us this year. We'll definitely get back to longer reports when we get to the logic stage and start the history cycle again.

Farrar, I don't think core strength is a problem here--the kid has a six pack from all the conditioning he does at karate! I'll try pens, too. Do you use erasable ones?

hockeymom
01-23-2014, 02:00 PM
Farrar, I don't think core strength is a problem here--the kid has a six pack from all the conditioning he does at karate!

I was thinking the same thing. My hockey player/runner has some serious abs, so I don't think that's an issue here either! :)

farrarwilliams
01-23-2014, 04:17 PM
Oh, I'm with you. I have always thought that was a weird one. But I have heard it a lot... So, I thought I'd toss it out there. I'm thinking it's probably one of two things - either that kids who when they start writing have poorer core strength do this and then develop a bad habit. Or, it's just such a small connection that it really doesn't apply to individuals, only to a group, like that crawling-reading connection I mentioned.

hockeymom
01-23-2014, 04:31 PM
I can see it for some kids, like if they have bad posture, their bodies aren't set up correctly for good form. So I guess it could make sense?

dbmamaz
01-23-2014, 07:05 PM
Raven is perfectly willing to do creative writing once a week on the computer. I havent pushed past that yet, because pencil writing brings tears, spelling sentences bring tears (and really minimal sentences), dictation brings tears . . . once we finish formal spelling (pretty soon, i swear) i might increase his writing requirements. This is my biggest worry about him returning to school.

MrsLOLcat
01-24-2014, 09:54 AM
I can see it for some kids, like if they have bad posture, their bodies aren't set up correctly for good form. So I guess it could make sense?

Perhaps, but that wouldn't have anything to do with handedness, I wouldn't think.

leakyowl
01-24-2014, 11:13 AM
We're focusing much more on mechanics of writing right now. Writing is painful and arduous for my son. However, he loves grammar (I joke that I should get him Strunk and White for Christmas). So, he does grammar every day. We don't need spelling (he is my spell check). He does typing every day. I'll have him narrate summaries, paragraphs, science lab answers, or stories to me, which I type and which he will then copy at least 3 times a week. He does some copywork, because I think it's important for him to encounter good writing frequently. We don't journal or freewrite, because neither of those would be successful with him. I don't bemoan the amount of writing we do because a) it's a heck of a lot more than he was doing in PS and b) he is still learning content areas and c) he is learning the mechanics of writing. I read plenty of papers from college students who don't have a firm grasp of the mechanics--it doesn't matter how good their ideas are if they can't be communicated effectively in writing. I'd rather my son learn those mechanics now and not get used to writing drivel.

hockeymom
01-24-2014, 01:25 PM
Perhaps, but that wouldn't have anything to do with handedness, I wouldn't think.

Oh, no. Just an interesting idea concerning hand fatigue. I've been using my phone to be on here, so maybe I overlooked something. Didn't mean to be confusing! :)

Avalon
01-24-2014, 11:04 PM
We're focusing much more on mechanics of writing right now. Writing is painful and arduous for my son. However, he loves grammar (I joke that I should get him Strunk and White for Christmas). So, he does grammar every day. We don't need spelling (he is my spell check). He does typing every day. I'll have him narrate summaries, paragraphs, science lab answers, or stories to me, which I type and which he will then copy at least 3 times a week. He does some copywork, because I think it's important for him to encounter good writing frequently. We don't journal or freewrite, because neither of those would be successful with him. I don't bemoan the amount of writing we do because a) it's a heck of a lot more than he was doing in PS and b) he is still learning content areas and c) he is learning the mechanics of writing. I read plenty of papers from college students who don't have a firm grasp of the mechanics--it doesn't matter how good their ideas are if they can't be communicated effectively in writing. I'd rather my son learn those mechanics now and not get used to writing drivel.

You know, I'm starting to wonder if my son might actually enjoy grammar. I've never really done much of it (aside from parts of speech and a few other basics), but he's the type of kid who LOVES music theory, math, logic, etc... If there are rules about something, he likes to know them. If it would get him to pick up a pencil willingly, then I'm all for it.

dbsam
01-25-2014, 12:23 AM
For those of you who chose the 'More than Once per Day' option, would you please give examples of the type of writing.

We are new to HS'ing this year. I have a difficult time getting my children to a few 'works' in a day; all subjects included. I cannot imagine them writing several times a day plus doing any other school work. They need writing practice and I would like to increase the frequency of their writing.

hockeymom
01-25-2014, 06:38 AM
You know, I'm starting to wonder if my son might actually enjoy grammar. I've never really done much of it (aside from parts of speech and a few other basics), but he's the type of kid who LOVES music theory, math, logic, etc... If there are rules about something, he likes to know them. If it would get him to pick up a pencil willingly, then I'm all for it.

That's exactly why AAS is working for my son--rules! :) And its coming with the bonus of allowing him to relax a bit with actual writing. I would think a grammar program could have the same kind of effect.

hockeymom
01-25-2014, 06:47 AM
For those of you who chose the 'More than Once per Day' option, would you please give examples of the type of writing.

We are new to HS'ing this year. I have a difficult time getting my children to a few 'works' in a day; all subjects included. I cannot imagine them writing several times a day plus doing any other school work. They need writing practice and I would like to increase the frequency of their writing.

Writing in this house comes from spelling (which for us also includes dictation and creative writing, as well as grammar), history (outlining, summarizing, copywork...and of course spelling, grammar and so on, plus an occasional longer 1-3 page paper) and science (summaries, lab write ups, definitions, Latin and Greek roots).

If history is writing heavy, I require less for science. But most L/A requirements are fulfilled within the context of content subjects, rather stand alone programs (except AAS which we modify).

Eta: I don't know what age(s) your kids are, but keep that in mind. This is the first year my son has been able to much writing at all.

BakedAk
01-25-2014, 12:20 PM
If you count words like "Thwak! Bamf! Thwip! Kapow!" and sentences like "Much later..." followed by a picture, Boy writes every day. Girl writes when I give her an assignment or when she decides to journal (she goes in spurts of writing every day for a week or 3, then nothing for a month). She has a snail mail pen-pal now, but that just started. I put "2 to 4 times per week" because I am terribly inconsistent with assigning things, but they both have things they do on their own.

I think I need to spend less time on this forum and more time lesson planning, or I'm forever going to feel like we don't do enough. :P

PetVet
01-27-2014, 02:02 PM
For those of you who chose the 'More than Once per Day' option, would you please give examples of the type of writing.

We are new to HS'ing this year. I have a difficult time getting my children to a few 'works' in a day; all subjects included. I cannot imagine them writing several times a day plus doing any other school work. They need writing practice and I would like to increase the frequency of their writing.

We use MBtP and the LA includes reading with questions almost every day, as well as at least one longer written assignment (paragraph, essay, poem, speech, etc). MBtP alternates between SS and Sci, and the SS units also have questions and/or written assignment(s) almost every day. The science units (at this age anyway 8-10), as well as our science supplement (My Pals Are Here!), more frequently involve worksheets or point form/jot it down type writing, but I think there is plenty of writing in the LA units and don't worry about it. We also use various workbooks, generally 3-4 pages each day, that include Spelling Workout, Easy Grammar, Reading Detective, etc. DS also keeps a journal - one that I'm not allowed to read, because "sometimes I write mean things in it about you Mum". ;)

ETA: Grammar loving lefty kid here!

ImReallyThisCrazy
01-27-2014, 03:19 PM
We do journal writing everyday for LA. It is free writing on whatever todays topic was. The only requirement is that it must be at least 1 paragraph with 4-6 sentences. We don't do copy work or dictation, this is the only writing that would specifically be categorized as writing. I don't use a lot of electronic stuff, so their day is spent writing IF their assignments require it.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-27-2014, 04:05 PM
We do journal writing everyday for LA. It is free writing on whatever todays topic was. The only requirement is that it must be at least 1 paragraph with 4-6 sentences. We don't do copy work or dictation, this is the only writing that would specifically be categorized as writing. I don't use a lot of electronic stuff, so their day is spent writing IF their assignments require it.

How do you determine the topic for the journal each day? Is it part of a curriculum or just what you happened to be working on that day?

That would be an interesting idea, though. I wonder if my kids would take to a "prompt" for each day, rotating between books they read independently, our read aloud book, science, history, etc. Mental wheels are turning!

ImReallyThisCrazy
01-27-2014, 04:27 PM
For example, today, we learned about what is proper sentence form and what is improper. They wrote improper, silly sentences, and then they wrote proper silly sentences. The sentences were of their choosing, as long as they were appropriate.

I have had them write about the passage we read in LA, or ways they as brothers could get along, or what is so awesome about homeschooling, etc, the list goes on. I have found that if I let them free write, with just a little bit of guidance, writing is fun, and not so much a bother anymore. I feel writing is very important, but it shouldn't be something that's dreaded. I magically woke up one day and said "This is what we will try", and lo and behold, it worked!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-27-2014, 04:45 PM
I have found that if I let them free write, with just a little bit of guidance, writing is fun, and not so much a bother anymore. I feel writing is very important, but it shouldn't be something that's dreaded. I magically woke up one day and said "This is what we will try", and lo and behold, it worked!

I love those sudden inspirations! Mine seem to come when I'm mulling over a problem while trying to fall asleep.

I'm not sure of a daily prompt will work, since sometimes they balk and say, "I don't want to write about that!" But maybe some spiffy new composition notebooks and mechanical pencils will sweeten the deal. :)

ETA: Thank you, everyone, for your continued responses! I'm really enjoying hearing the many ways that people are incorporating writing into their days.

ImReallyThisCrazy
01-27-2014, 08:03 PM
I love those sudden inspirations! Mine seem to come when I'm mulling over a problem while trying to fall asleep.

I'm not sure of a daily prompt will work, since sometimes they balk and say, "I don't want to write about that!" But maybe some spiffy new composition notebooks and mechanical pencils will sweeten the deal. :)

ETA: Thank you, everyone, for your continued responses! I'm really enjoying hearing the many ways that people are incorporating writing into their days.

You don't necessarily have to give them a prompt, let them choose. This is what is so great about it! After this board, I started thinking of some of the fun things they have written about, so here is what I could think of...

Write the lyrics to your favorite song and if you don't know the words, replace those words with crazy/silly words. This ends up being a very fun and energetic lesson, with us singing and having fun.

Write a list of your favorite tv shows and what channel it comes on.

Write down the ideal treat recipe. (and then try to make it, becoming a reading/math lesson later on)

Draw a picture of your favorite animal, label the parts (ears, legs, tail, canine teeth, etc), and then color it.

Make the grocery list. My 8 yr old LOVES this, as I am going through the cabinets, he is writing down what we need. This also can go into a math lesson on estimating on what we will spend versus our budget and if we have money left we may write what we are going to do with the extra money. Even a sentence, we are going to McDonalds and getting an ice cream cone and playing in the playplace. It is still a sentence.

I insist on writing everyday and it has quickly become something fun, surprisingly. My ds 11 has never been one to read or write, and despised PS in every way imaginable, so I am truly surprised and so thankful that we have found a way for it to be enjoyable for him. We have now been HS for almost 2 months now, and I am very shocked that I have already found something that works in the worst subject ever! Good luck and have fun!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-27-2014, 10:03 PM
Yes, we do all of those things for penmanship practice if they get tired of copying stuff. It's also been a fun way to record their ever-changing obsessions (dragons, Webkinz, pirates, Star Wars) that will be fun to look back on later.

If anyone wants to hear "The 12 Days of Star Wars Christmas" just let me know. :)

Christen99
02-20-2014, 05:31 AM
My youngest has dysgraphia, so we work on writing daily (IEW). I break it down into steps, so he does something on his writing assignment each day. Along with that, he also does spelling daily but it's All About Spelling, so there isn't a ton of daily writing. We're also doing a literature based social studies program, and he does some form of writing in his journal each day. One day per week, he is in OT and he does writing with his therapist in addition to his writing at home.

JerbysMom
04-04-2014, 01:59 PM
DS usually has one writing assignment a week. Early in the week he'll do pre-writing stuff like research, outline, etc. and then actually do the writing late-week. His writing can range from awesome to garbage depending on the assignment. He hates reports of any kind, doesn't like poetry. He does really well when he can let his imagination go wild. Story-starter pictures work well, but adventure stories are his forte. He actually has a whole series of stories about him and his dad as a superhero duo called the Dude Bros. Their arch-nemesis is a mad scientist named Dr. NoNo (he finances his evil machinations by inventing and selling the NoNo hair removal system). He even illustrates them. Unfortunately for him, he does have to try other forms of writing from time to time.

BASHHomeschool
04-15-2014, 04:31 PM
As a writer myself, writing is a pretty prominent part of our daily routine. Thankfully, all my kids are good at it and enjoy it. We do about one actual writing assignment per week but the kids do a lot on their own. They are also required to write thank you letters for gifts received and are encouraged to write fiction and non fiction.

My two older kids have blogs they use to post various pieces of writing. My youngest does not yet type well so he does not have one yet but will soon.