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dbmamaz
09-30-2011, 03:28 PM
Ok, Raven just turned 8. Late speaker, late reader. Now, late writer.

I tried pen pals, that didnt really work. I couldnt get him to write more than 2 fragments on paper, and only slightly more on line.

He was willing to do copy work of jokes over the summer, but I got really tired of making them, and I THINK he should be able to write.

Well, this week we tried Spectrum 2nd grade writing. Its like pulling teeth.

Today there was an organizer - write somewhere you went in the center circle, and write what you saw, heard, felt, tasted, smelled around it. Then you were supposed to write a sentence for each one.

He couldnt think of anything. I mentioned birthday party - he went to someones recently and had one recently. I said he could even combine them to help remember things. I also said he could make something up, like being in a space ship. He started with space ship, but couldnt think of things. So we went back to birthday party and finally finished the organizer. I think that took an hour. Then he was supposed to write sentences based off of that . . . and thought he was on top of it . . . but of course, just answered with one or two words to the prompts, instead of sentences.

I'm fried, its friday, and we spent SO long on this . . .

should I keep pushing through at least a few more weeks? Or does anyone have any suggestions? It seems like there is really very little available for this age, esp for a kid who cant even think of something he wants to write. I kinda had to prompt him with ideas and have him pick one. I mean, for things he felt, he wanted to say 'rubber' - but i was trying to explain that no one would understand 'rubber' at a birthday party, but 'rubbery trampoline' would help them see what he meant.

advice? (and doesnt this make you all feel better about the math stuff? you dont even want to know how he was spelling things .. .since he still cant hear the sounds of the words he's trying to spell . .. )

Accidental Homeschooler
09-30-2011, 03:35 PM
If this isn't about penmanship would he be interested in doing powerpoints? My dd went through a phase of finding pictures on the internet of things that she was interested in (furniture, light fixtures, cats, chickens...) and making powerpoints. She would make captions for them (and special effects) and then we would all sit and watch a powerpoint presentation. Maybe writing descriptions of objects he sees right in front of him would be a way to start as it would be more concrete. Anyway, good luck.

hockeymom
09-30-2011, 04:03 PM
Cara, I get that you think he ought to be writing by now but maybe he just really and truly isn't ready yet. I've scaled way back on the writing that I require of my DS and I'm actually finally seeing results. But I was frustrated all last year by his disinterest and seeming inability. When I look at the problem holistically though, I really do get that *so much* goes into writing and that as long as he is building the foundation (reading good literature, learning how to verbally make up stories etc) I really do know that the writing will come when he's ready.

Maybe Raven just needs more time. More time to hear those sounds, more time to pick up books that interest him, more time to figure out how to make up stories and get his creative groove on. I *know* all that can take a lot longer than we moms would sometimes like, particularly when we know how intelligent our kids are, but I don't think it's a skill that can be forced. Lay the foundation--this year, next year, however long it takes--and it's bound to come together at some point. 8 is still young for writing--look how many of us have boys that age who still struggle with it.

Hampchick
09-30-2011, 04:34 PM
Ha, how ironic that you post this today. Ethan (also 8) was in tears today because I asked him to do a small amount of writing that he didn't expect. I think PS broke my son when it comes to writing. I am convinced he was expected to do way too much too soon in first grade and it really set a course that even after a year of almost no writing (handwriting practice only) we still struggle with.

I struggle daily with how much to ask him to write because I too feel like he SHOULD be able to do more. Last year we focused entirely on handwriting - letter formation, because he learned a lot of really bad habits. This fall I have been focusing on a kind of fluency I guess. He does a small amount of copywork every day. Sometimes he traces a short paragraph. TRACES! I tried this so that he could sort gain some muscle memory without it requiring too much effort. He still finds writing tiring and difficult, but his writing is so much better this year (yay!). One thing that helps him is if he knows exactly what to expect. THe issue today was that I told him we weren't doing his HWT book, but then I asked him write an answer to two history questions as his writing practice. He wasn't expecting it, so it really messed him up.

Re: the not being able to think of something to write. I think this might be a symptom of not being ready. If I were asking Ethan to write something original I would have the same problem. At least with Ethan I suspect it is simply overwhelming. Let's say he was asked to write about something he did during the weekend. First he has to remember what he did. Not actually as easy as it sounds. Then he has to think of something interesting to say about it. Then he has to organize his thoughts. Then he has to keep track of that organization long enough to write it down when writing in itself is a struggle. Then there is the spelling of each word which makes it slower going, which means holding that organization in his head even longer. That is a HUGE boatload of steps to go through if you aren't developmentally ready for it.

Every once in a while Ethan will come to me with a story or poem he made up in his head and I will ask him if he wants me to write it out for him. As far as I'm concerned if he can create in his head then he's doing fine and it would do him more harm to push than to let it go. My hope is that during this year we will very gradually add more simple writing but it's wait and see. We do spelling, will start grammar island soon, and continue practicing handwriting. I have a hunch or at least a hope, that once he has more writing tools that the writing itself will fall into place. I know I'm sort of rambling and Raven's difficulty is probably different than Ethan's, but maybe there's some insight in my rambling that can help.

Hampchick
09-30-2011, 04:35 PM
OMG, that was long. Sorry Cara. I guess I had some stuff to get off my chest after the writing related tears today.

Gabriela
09-30-2011, 04:45 PM
My boy is also 8. The Waldorf school he was going to last year didn't have his grade doing much writing, so he really struggled with it when we started homeschooling.
I've loved writing since I was his age, so it was hard for me to lower the writing expectations I had of him, take a step back, and accept that it doesn't come as easy for him.

Here are some of the things we have done that really helped:

- Keeping a blog. He started out just posting photos with one or two sentences. Now he writes up to two paragraphs. Having followers (a few friends and family) really got him excited. He only posts once or twice a month because I try not to give him too much screen time, but it really did help his writing motivation in general.

- Madlibs. They're silly. He learns the parts of speech and can use words like "fart", which he finds hysterical.

- Fill in the blanks stories.

- SUMMARIES. I find summaries one of the easiest ways to get him to write. He's not crazy about them, but does them without much hassle. At first, when he complained about his arm getting tired, I would let him dictate the summary to me and I would do the actual writing. I've heard lots of moms say that doing the writing themselves was the only way to get their kids to come up with stories, and it worked wonders for letting my son's creativity flow. Once he realized how much he enjoyed making up his own stories, it was much easier to get him to actually write them down.

*Creative Writing Prompts - I've written over 40 prompts for him. Most of them don't work, but one in every four or so does. I'm trying to see a pattern in the ones he does like, but it seems to be more of a mood-of-the-day thing. When a prompt does work though, he really gets into it.

I agree very much with Hockeymom in that it's not worth pushing too hard. Have you read Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way"? All about writer's block caused by traumatic creative expression-related experiences, not that that's the problem with our sons - just that we need to be careful not to damage an already delicate area by forcing it.

bcnlvr
09-30-2011, 05:11 PM
Literally, when ds9 was 8, it was copywork (mainly from astronomy and physics....whatever he would copy) and even then it was 2-3 sentences per day (10-15 per week). That and doing idea webs (topic in the center and 3 or more "legs", each one going to an idea). The webs, hopefully by the end of NEXT year, will turn into 5 paragraph essays. Writing is our nemesis here. ds9 hates it.

tamitakesphotos
09-30-2011, 05:29 PM
You might want to check out the book Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye. I've had it on my wishlist for a while now, and finally had the brilliant idea to see if the library had it. They did. So, I just got it the other day, and have looked over maybe half of it. There are some good ideas in there for struggling and beginning writers. She talks about a lot of the same things that have been brought up here, about how hard it is to actually come up with your own ideas. And she has "games" that help build that. Anyway, check your library! We're going to try some of them here with my almost 8 yr old boy. I'll try to remember to report how it goes.

Pilgrim
09-30-2011, 05:30 PM
Cara, I get that you think he ought to be writing by now but maybe he just really and truly isn't ready yet. I've scaled way back on the writing that I require of my DS and I'm actually finally seeing results. But I was frustrated all last year by his disinterest and seeming inability. When I look at the problem holistically though, I really do get that *so much* goes into writing and that as long as he is building the foundation (reading good literature, learning how to verbally make up stories etc) I really do know that the writing will come when he's ready.

Maybe Raven just needs more time. More time to hear those sounds, more time to pick up books that interest him, more time to figure out how to make up stories and get his creative groove on. I *know* all that can take a lot longer than we moms would sometimes like, particularly when we know how intelligent our kids are, but I don't think it's a skill that can be forced. Lay the foundation--this year, next year, however long it takes--and it's bound to come together at some point. 8 is still young for writing--look how many of us have boys that age who still struggle with it.

I agree. It's nothing to force. DD is 9, has dyslexia, and despises reading and writing. She's just not ready for intense writing. She may never be. We keep it to a minimum-- a sentence here and there, and a good portion of that is copy work. If I was to give her a worksheet like you described, Cara, she'd do the same thing as Raven, and it would take an hour and probably end in tears. However, we can sit on the sofa, and she could verbalize the whole thing very well...as long as I am holding the pencil, not her. After I write down her ideas, I sometimes let her copy the sentences. So I'm acting as the middle-man; otherwise, her mind just has such difficulty in making the transition from thought to writing.

As Accidental mentioned, DD has also used PowerPoint to create projects. She loves it, enjoys typing (at least moreso than she does writing). We've also used dictation software, though we're finding that she is self-conscious if anyone else is even in the house. There are so many other ways to test whether or not she's comprehending the material. In the meantime, she's expressing her ideas orally or visually while at least practicing writing with HWTs and other copy work. Someday we hope the two will merge for her.

Good luck!

Jilly
09-30-2011, 05:48 PM
My oldest son hated to write and doing an assignment like the one you mentioned would have been a nightmare for him. He could never think of what to write, and he could never get started. It was very frustrating for him and me both. The best advice I ever got was to just let it go for a while. He wasn't ready, and there really was no reason for me to push it on him. I dropped all writing work until he was 9.

When he was 9 I would have him copy 1 to 2 sentences a day just to get use to writing. At 10 he would copy a paragraph from whatever book he was reading. Last year at 11 he began writing more academically, and this year it has really taken off. He is working through Writing with Skill and enjoying it. He writes in most of his subjects as assignments come up, and he does not complain. He has even begun writing for pleasure. It has been wonderful to see him grow in this area.

Stella M
09-30-2011, 06:04 PM
Narrate :)

Seriously. I know I keep saying it. Separate the act of handwriting from the act of organising and communicating thoughts.

If he can't narrate a whole chapter/story, try having him narrate a paragraph. If he can't narrate a paragraph, try him with a sentence. If he can't do a sentence, send him to look out the window and tell you what the weather is like. Anything!

It will be less stressful. Even model CM students don't do written narrations till they are 10 and I've left it till 11 to start. There is no magic writing curricula out there. And I just think that asking some 8 year old boys - mine included - to handwrite and organise creative or logical and expressive thoughts at the same time is too much.

laundrycrisis
09-30-2011, 06:10 PM
DS1 is dysgraphic and I am not just talking about the physical act of handwriting. He can also type. It does not make a difference. He has major problems with the process of creating written language. There is a huge disconnect. He does not understand well enough how sentences and written language in general work to be able to compose anything. He is 8.5, in 3rd grade, and truly struggles to write single sentences. So.....

I will give a quick list of materials that are helping.

*WWE. He is currently in level 1. The process of him dictating a sentence to me as part of his narration, then me writing it down, then him copying it, is helping him build the bridge to writing his own sentences.
*Remedia Publications workbooks - These are written specifically for kids with language-based learning challenges. I have several of their workbooks on sentences and then some to use on paragraphs, stories, reports, and written expression in general. These are affordable and IMO excellent because the steps are so tiny.

Those first two are the biggest helps. The rest of these are not as big a part of it, but they are useful.

*Studying sentence structure, so it can make sense to him. Linguisystems has a series called Spotlight on Grammar that is affordable. I will also begin diagramming with him this year. I bought a diagramming book from Rainbow. Linguisystems also has a sentence structure book I want but it is really expensive.
*Spectrum Phonics and Vocabulary workbooks. The Spectrum Writing workbooks are waaaaaayyy too open ended for him. Completely overwhelming. The Grade 1 workbook done as a grade 2 student was hard, but the grade 2 workbook done as a grade 3 student was impossible for him. But the phonics and vocabulary workbooks are working very well. There is also a Language Arts workbook I will have him do after he has finished the Phonics and Vocabulary workbooks.
*RFP has a series of Aesop's Fables workbooks that involve reading, a little analysis, and a little writing. They also get to color if they want to.
*Flash Kids has some small workbooks on reading comprehension and main idea that I think are going to help him.
*He is doing history and science with reading comprehension workbooks. This might seem unrelated but he is learning to look back into the paragraphs he read to answer the questions. The paragraphs are very well written with clear topic sentences etc. He is learning how informational reports are structured.

dbmamaz
09-30-2011, 07:32 PM
Thanks for all the ideas! I also got feedback on fb and from our home school video games club that I really shouldnt push, he's probably not ready yet. I still might try one thing . . .he keeps talking about wanting to make a video game and he tells me all about the plot, so I might try to get him to draw a picture from teh game and write a sentence about the picture . . . but dictate and make him copy sounds good . . and someone else had mentioned a writing program based on aesops . .

his father has some significant issues writing. He is very high IQ, but his writing is incredibly slow and extremely formal. he is virtually incapable of whipping up a casual comment. When we played World of Warcraft together and he was leading a raid and some players didnt have 'ears', i would type for him because he couldnt get his words down fast enough, and i could.

So i really think I'm hearing it . . . dont panic and try to force him to write. I backed off on reading, and now he is doing fine. The mom of the adhd 12 yo twins at the video game club pointed that he was singing as he skipped back and forth from the 'Elephant and Piggy' shelf with books . . .he's happy!! And he enjoys reading! I need to let him get to the same place with writing!

thanks

hockeymom
09-30-2011, 07:36 PM
That's really encouraging news about the reading, Cara! I know it can be so hard to let go of certain ideas/ideals, but hopefully backing off for awhile will pay off. I'm sure it will.

dragonfly
09-30-2011, 07:53 PM
Boy, does this sound like my son (now 14). We were using Calvert, and the writing expectations are high in that curriculum.

First, it DOES get better. It might not come in big steps, but little by little, as long as you work on it, it will improve.

I tried lots of things. I cut back a LOT on what I expected him to write. As long as he did *some* every week, I was okay with it. If a particular assignment interested him, we went with it. If not, I would try to pick something else. For example, he *loves* video games. He wrote essays on comparing and contrasting two different games, he wrote reviews of games, etc. He loves nature and animals, so he would go outside and find a tree or bush or bug or whatever and write about that. Writing on the computer was usually easier for him, so I let him do that much of the time.

I encouraged him to read a lot--I had always read to him when he was little, but he didn't do much on his own outside of school assignments. I felt that being exposed to lots of writing would help his own (don't know if it's true or not, but I figured it couldn't hurt). Sooo...I told him that he could stay up in bed at night for a while as long as he was reading. Now he reads every day outside of his schoolwork.

I did some writing of my own as a model. I might do an assignment along with him, or write something similar as a model. Something I never did, but considered, was to write something myself, and have him offer suggestions about how to improve it. I thought it might get him thinking about the process with less pressure, because it's like he's the teacher...I dunno, it might work for some kids.

If I could get him to write even one or two sentences, I'd work with him, ask him questions, and brainstorm with him on what adjectives he could add, what other details he could include, etc. I would write these things down for him on his work. I was always very encouraging of what he did, and made sure that whatever I added to his work was the result of a collaboration of our ideas, and not just me "correcting" him. Even if I liked my own ideas better, I'd use his, as long as he was adding something appropriate.

Back to the video game thing--I gave him a journal where he could write down his ideas for a video game of his own design. I tried having him keep a regular daily journal, but he didn't have much interest. The video game thing worked better. He wasn't required to share this with me if he didn't want to, so he never had to feel pressure to make it perfect.

ANY time when he got excited about a particular topic, I'd try to get him to write about it. Writing out his Christmas and birthday wish lists was usually met with enthusiasm, and often it was more than just a list of items, but including some descriptions of which specific toy he wanted, or which items he wanted more than others, etc.

dragonfly
09-30-2011, 08:11 PM
Okay, I just read the post to my son, and he agreed that it sounded a lot like him.

He says that the hard thing for him with an assignment like you mentioned (with the shape organizer), was not so much coming up with ideas, but that if the central concept is too broad, he doesn't know what to say. For example, in the birthday party idea, my son says he would have a hard time with that topic, but if it was something like "describe the setting of the birthday party," he'd have an easier time. For him, strict facts, things that are concrete and can be seen, touched, etc. are easier for him to think of. He'd be able to describe the room, the decorations, how many kids are there, what kind of furniture, etc. Your son may have an easier time with another aspect, perhaps emotions, or smells, whatever.

Maybe you can pick a topic with a more narrow focus? Like, describe the food, or the cake...something like that?

laundrycrisis
10-01-2011, 06:02 AM
So i really think I'm hearing it . . . dont panic and try to force him to write.


I do make our son write, every day that we do school...but only what he is able to do...right now, that is single sentences. Before that, it was only parts of sentences. It would not do any good for me to try to force him to do something he truly cannot grasp. So I help him work onward from where he is now.

Big steps will not work for someone who needs baby steps. I love the Remedia workbooks because they are very much baby steps that are encouraging and not overwhelming. They are written exactly for this purpose.

These are the Aesop books:
http://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?sid=1284323197-254351&subject=4&category=727

Here are some of the Remedia titles:
http://www.rempub.com/writing/writing-basics-series-writing-sentences
http://www.rempub.com/writing/easy-sentence-writing
http://www.rempub.com/writing/first-steps-in-writing-what-is-a-sentence
http://www.rempub.com/writing/first-steps-in-writing-how-do-i-write-a-sentence
http://www.rempub.com/writing/first-steps-in-writing-what-are-the-4-kinds-of-sentences

Some of the other ones I have from them have gone out of print.

These workbooks may seem tedious and silly for most students, but they are challenging for our son. They are perfect for helping him through this.

Staysee34
10-01-2011, 07:06 AM
Dragonfly, we are doing something very similar to what you do with your son. I purchased Daily Editing Practice for my girls and we do 2-4 sentences every other day depending on their attention levels. We fix the sentences first and write them correctly and then we think of ways to make the sentence better. After we've brainstormed how to make it better, they rewrite the sentence again, using their brainstormed idea. So far, it seems to be working and my DD9 (fresh from PS and hated writing anything) doesn't mind it and has said she loves it. We are currently on a 1 week break. When we start back up, I hope to begin some simple narrations and see how that goes. My personal goal for them this year is to get 3 good sentences on a topic of their choice.

hockeymom
10-01-2011, 08:07 AM
Okay, I just read the post to my son, and he agreed that it sounded a lot like him.

He says that the hard thing for him with an assignment like you mentioned (with the shape organizer), was not so much coming up with ideas, but that if the central concept is too broad, he doesn't know what to say. For example, in the birthday party idea, my son says he would have a hard time with that topic, but if it was something like "describe the setting of the birthday party," he'd have an easier time. For him, strict facts, things that are concrete and can be seen, touched, etc. are easier for him to think of. He'd be able to describe the room, the decorations, how many kids are there, what kind of furniture, etc. Your son may have an easier time with another aspect, perhaps emotions, or smells, whatever.

Maybe you can pick a topic with a more narrow focus? Like, describe the food, or the cake...something like that?

This is good insight. Hope you don't mind if I make use of this idea!

Ayem
10-01-2011, 10:45 AM
When my daughter was reluctant about writing, I just let her write for a while with no other agenda.
Some of the things I did:

I had an old computer I let her dissect (smash up). She spent hours taking it apart. I then asked her to write some instructions on how to do it and said she could be as silly as she wants.

It turned out something like.
Get computer.
Get hammer...

and so forth, but it was quite funny.

She wrote recipes. Again, I said she could be as silly as she wanted. All sorts of ingredients, all sorts of purposes for the recipes.

I also let her experiment in the kitchen, but required her to write down what she did eg. ingredients and method.

She found an old "recipe book" that she had written yesterday actually. It was really funny and sweet to read it again.

Writing in code. She made up a code of letters, then wrote me a note. I wrote one back and so on.

I encouraged her to put lots of drawings in. She did little comics.

We had a note writing morning, rather than speaking.

We wrote stories together. One example: where you have a piece of paper, write a bit then fold it over, and have just a bit of a sentence showing, then the other person writes their bit and folds it over. You do that a few times then open it and read it. My contributions were paragraphs, hers were sentences, but it got her writing. (That may be for a bit down the track.)

I let her dictate stories to me and I’d type them out for her. Then she’d illustrate them.

As soon as she started to flag about it, we put it aside, it was just for fun.

Nothing too theoretical here, not formal writing training in any way, no expectations, only gentle corrections, just letting her have fun with pen on paper.

Ayem
10-01-2011, 10:55 AM
I will add that with formal writing exercises now, she is the kind of pragmatic kid who needs the reason for why we are doing something.

“We are doing x/y/z because it is important to learn how to structure a sentence/learn to listen/learn to ... It is important learn to a/b/c because...” ergh.
Once she understands the purpose, things go a lot more efficiently.

dbmamaz
10-01-2011, 11:18 AM
Ayem, a lot of that sounds like what was in that writing games book someone else mentioned -- which I had gotten out of the library, but really not liked. I'm not a creative person that way, and I also have to keep on top of my special needs teen . . .I'll think about it, but the idea of doing silly things w my son makes me want to send him back to ps . . .I just HATE it. I do as much as I can muster , because he loves it, but it leaves me wanting to lock myself in a room all alone for half an hour.

Ayem
10-01-2011, 11:38 AM
Haven’t read a book on that, but hmm... I wouldn’t be too hard on either of you or feel like you have to be particularly creative. I just made things up as we went along. The computer was there... the urge to smash it up was there... let her do it, but attach something to the end of it. Same with cooking. Tie a small writing task in with something else he is doing. Make it short and sweet. Looking back, it was often something physical followed by writing.

The other thing I did was created little books. Literally, paper folded and stapled together. Nothing fancy at all. She could fill them as she wanted. She loves animals. She did some with made up animals and some with real ones. And pet care. Does Raven have an animal? Or maybe care for a made up pet? A dragon, a creature of his invention. I’m riffing now.

We also did a spy thing once - and I drew a very basic map a couple of times, then she had to fill in what was on the island.

I totally get the locking yourself into your room alone for ½ an hour. I think sometimes I got her started on those because I wanted some time to myself and it kept her occupied.

My take on silly is that it takes the fear and expectation out of whatever seems daunting. It doesn’t have to be a chore. I didn’t have “silly time” scheduled in, I just wanted her to produce words and letting her go for it in whatever format was still a win.

jazz
10-01-2011, 12:00 PM
My dyslexic seven year old hates to write as well, not surprisingly. I try to separate things I want her to do content for and things I want her to literally write. Often she dictates stuff for me and the things she physically writes are copied from what she's dictated. I do worry about it though, because she will need to be able to write whole sentences eventually!

Greenmother
10-01-2011, 12:03 PM
My kids hate handwriting! HATE IT! Unless they are making art. Then they want to do lettering.

I haven't quite figured out how to handle this gracefully either. If I come up with something I will post it here.

Good luck to you too ;)

Elphie
10-01-2011, 12:15 PM
My son is 13 and he still HATES writing of any kind. I thought he would be able to do it (first year of hs after ps) but he just shuts down when I ask him to write anything. Next week he is supposed to write an essay on The Giver and I am dreading it. I'm so glad I found this thread because there were a lot of good ideas here...even though my son is 13 and should be farther along in his writing by now! I'll probably have to sit with him and walk him through the essay next week. Right now I have been praising ANY writing he does. I really think he has dysgraphia, too. Maybe researching that could help me to help him.

dbmamaz
10-01-2011, 12:32 PM
For my teen, typing instead of writing is an absolute must. We worked on taking notes on note cards and organizing the note cards by subject, and then writing an outline, sometimes pretty detailed, before writing. The organization helps him a lot. But i'm trying to get him to write every week - i started with that intent 2 years ago, but he wasnt ready for it yet. We've come a long way.

My younger one, tho, he did fine with copy work, so I'm thinking I need to get him to do more of that. Except he still gets mad when I tell him to start the letters from teh top, not the bottom. He is doing some electronic writing, but I want him to be able to write legibly and reasonably first, before we move most of our writing to the computer. Orion moved to the computer in 4th grade, I guess.

Hampchick
10-01-2011, 02:06 PM
Except he still gets mad when I tell him to start the letters from teh top, not the bottom.

This was a struggle here also. I had Ethan do a little test found here: http://www.hwtears.com/newsletter/january2009/askjan We also just compared the motions needed when starting at the bottom vs. top. Once he really understood WHY I was asking him to change the way he wrote he was more willing to try. Of course it took most of the year for him to actually retrain himself. Lower case a and o were the last to finally get fixed for whatever reason.

laundrycrisis
10-01-2011, 04:01 PM
For actual handwriting (which was only part of our son's problem) I used a therapeutic program called First Strokes. This has really helped him avoid reversals in his lower case letters and be less frustrated with making the circles in lower-case letters. It has helped him to relax and be smoother. Before he had a death grip on the pencil and his writing was very jerky. He exhausted himself writing just a few words. We spent the first month of the program with him doing no writing at all, all work verbally, except for him making very large, smooth counter-clockwise circles first with large paintbrushes, then paintbrush pens on plastic sleeves, then dry-erase markers on a white board, and finally moved to pencil and paper. Then I worked the size of the circles down and started the actual program. It studies each letter, grouping them by the first stroke you use to make that letter. When he remembers which stroke a letter begins with, it is almost impossible for him to reverse it, and when he does, he catches himself right away.

Here are some links about the program:

http://drzachryspedsottips.blogspot.com/2011/04/first-strokes-handwriting-program.html

http://www.thehandwritingclinic.com/Shop/index.php?cPath=7&osCsid=afa29c50e6021d3bcb65ca9644a274fe

The one I used for him is the multi-sensory and I just bought single copies of the upper and lower case workbooks. These are very affordable and I didn't need anything special to use them except some report covers so I could use the pages with dry-erase markers.

I found this when I was searching for help for dysgraphia that I could do at home and I did not like HWT at all. I have never found another homeschooler who knows about it. It's a great program that for some reason seems to be a well-kept secret - homeschoolers just do not hear about it.

Megan_Hampson
10-01-2011, 04:20 PM
At eight, I would not worry too much about writing. In Montessori my daughter was doing nothing more than copying down sentences from non-fiction sources, and describing pictures - One to Two sentences each. Now, at sixteen she is a great writer - got a 9 out of 12 on the SAT. Unless he has a learning disability, it will come.

You could also look into Writing Strands. I think it is designed for kids resistant to writing. Good luck!

Dutchbabiesx2
10-01-2011, 05:49 PM
Handwriting is a pain, literally, for some people. They hold the pencil with a death grip because it feels like a greased pig. the control of all the fine tuning that needs to be made to make the different letters causes the whole arm to get involved and that can wear them out before they have 2 words on a page! Oh and they might be concentrating so hard on forming the letters, how the pencil feels, the size and shape and hardness of the pencil, paper and writing surface . ."oh what was I writing again?" . .. How is that spelled again, oh where was I on the page, what was I copying, what did I do last . .this is such a pain!

My son too is soooooo like this! his spelling was horrible, but he has central auditory processing disorder (diagnosed with an EEG so he hears totally differently than we speak). We stopped pushing the writing, he was doing the very minimum anyway! He now is encouraged to read and read and read. He gets to express what he learned from the book anyway he likes. He prefers art and abstract expression. I write longer things for him, and have him try to spell things.
what he has done since I laid off the writing is when he wants to write something, he now spells sooooo much better! his handwriting is beautiful when he wants to write and I never push him to write more. And when he does have a task to write for learning, he still does the minimum, but it gets done without a battle, because I except what he gives me.

This is our philosophy for his particular issue and it works for us for now (he turns 9 next week). Ask me again in 2 years and I am sure we will have a different solution for the issues then.

I hope you all find a good compromise, but behaviors are symptoms of problems, and most kids can't express what is wrong, but what frustrates them is usually part of the problem. Possibly seeking out help from an OT could help, but development is also part of the picture.

raegan
10-01-2011, 11:11 PM
brilliant, fun ideas...I wish I could bookmark a thread here within the forum. :P (and no, actually bookmarking it in my favorites will only result in it being lost to time forever :P )

dbmamaz
10-01-2011, 11:50 PM
Yeah, i'm thinking I need to go through it and transfer all the ideas on to a word document and save it in my 'english' folder . . .where i might find it every 6 months . . .

lakshmi
10-02-2011, 12:21 AM
I am sort of confused by this thread. Cara, it seemed like you were saying that the creative process was a big part of the problem. Like he wasn't even coming up with an idea, but then the responses were about handwriting.

Here I have a one daughter who has been making books for four years, and the other just started writing on her own. Mostly invitations to dances, or notes to tell me she hates me and that I am a "dume" dummy. She is 6 and the oldest child is 7. So they are wordy, but no one outside of this family, sometimes even the child themselves has forgotten what was written. (The earliest books were written in fairy language, from her world.)

Word webs, sentences, handwriting, all stupid. Okay, not stupid, but a skipping happy boy who likes to read could also enjoy notewriting. Someone, or several someones, mentioned narration but if he is't thinking of anything then narration won't help it. So, maybe it's time to have quiet day where everyone has to type or write notes. Forget about the handwriting, word spacing, and just write, write, write. At least it could give you something to do in the interim while you're waiting to do the more formal stuff.

I send my girls emails, and they write on their blog and they write notes to me all the time. I sometimes leave big notes on their floor so that when they wake up they find them. I guess that is modeling the behavior I'd like to see.

dbmamaz
10-02-2011, 10:50 AM
Raven has MULTIPLE problems with writing. He can tell back stories sometimes, if he actualy liked them, and he sometimes tells very complicated stories about video games or make believe battles. But the process of getting that idea on to paper (or electronics) is a kind of translation he is struggling with. He has been typing words in games for quite a while, where he is working on spelling - but the communication he does when he writes is nothing like what he says. Its not the same thing.

For me and for my first two kids, it wasnt like that. Writing extended naturally from thinking. There was no extra step of trying to translate from mind to writing. It sounds like its the same way for your girls.

Raven ALSO has trouble with handwriting, he ALSO has trouble thinking of something 'on command', he ALSO has trouble hearing speech sounds and figuring out how to translate them in to letters. He still has trouble speaking clearly.

In other words, he has a whole huge host of language problems which your girsl dont have. Its really not the same situation.

Several of the other posters had boys with similar issues . . . similar multiple issues. thats probably why it didnt make sense to you. Honestly, it made MORE sense to me after reading all the replies, since I also had no previous experience with these problems.

dbmamaz
10-02-2011, 01:10 PM
Thank you!!!!
Um, you're welcome? Who are you thanking . . . and for what?

laundrycrisis
10-02-2011, 05:17 PM
Raven has MULTIPLE problems with writing. He can tell back stories sometimes, if he actualy liked them, and he sometimes tells very complicated stories about video games or make believe battles. But the process of getting that idea on to paper (or electronics) is a kind of translation he is struggling with. He has been typing words in games for quite a while, where he is working on spelling - but the communication he does when he writes is nothing like what he says. Its not the same thing.

For me and for my first two kids, it wasnt like that. Writing extended naturally from thinking. There was no extra step of trying to translate from mind to writing. It sounds like its the same way for your girls.

Raven ALSO has trouble with handwriting, he ALSO has trouble thinking of something 'on command', he ALSO has trouble hearing speech sounds and figuring out how to translate them in to letters. He still has trouble speaking clearly.

In other words, he has a whole huge host of language problems which your girsl dont have. Its really not the same situation.

Several of the other posters had boys with similar issues . . . similar multiple issues. thats probably why it didnt make sense to you. Honestly, it made MORE sense to me after reading all the replies, since I also had no previous experience with these problems.

Yes, yes, yes. For our DS1, going from thinking on command to speech to writing is exactly like translating into another language, and one that doesn't make much sense to him yet. "Fun" writing activities, freewriting, and that sort of thing do not fly here at all. It would be like someone telling me to "say something FUN in Japanese !" (which I do not know a word of and would really have to struggle to pick up)

Cara, I hope something here helps you. It's a tough place to be in.

dbmamaz
10-02-2011, 07:46 PM
"Fun" writing activities, freewriting, and that sort of thing do not fly here at all. It would be like someone telling me to "say something FUN in Japanese !"
LOL Awesome - love that analogy! I keep looking at other workbooks - like the Critical THinking co's Language smarts . . . but not sure its worth it. I do like the punctuation and capitalization practice there . . . which he could do seperately from writing . . . I'm thinking tho that my next attempt is going to be to have him draw a picture of a video game - real or made up - and then tell me one sentence about it, and then I will write it and he will copy it. This sounds like something he could like and do. I'm still tempted to get the language smarts book tho. C.

Stella M
10-02-2011, 10:05 PM
That idea - draw plus one sentence orally - is really good :)

farrarwilliams
10-02-2011, 10:11 PM
I keep feeling like I should contribute something to this thread, but I keep missing the waves of it and I feel like you got really good advice, Cara.

Lak001
10-02-2011, 11:09 PM
Cara, there's so many great advices and ideas in this thread. I have nothing to add. I'm just going to incorporate some ideas with my dd. We are having a lot of issues with writing as well. Hope you'll figure something that works for your son.

lakshmi
10-03-2011, 12:38 AM
Did anyone mention dictation software? It is something I've been thinking about using, but have no experience with it.

Thanks for detailing exactly what you were talking about it more clearly. It does seem different than my kids, but then my youngest isn't really doing the same sort of work as your youngest is, so we haven't come across some of the same situations as you have. What did you decide to do?

dbmamaz
10-03-2011, 09:49 AM
Someone did mention dictation software, and said her daughter was too shy to use it when anyone was home (i used to feel that way about practicing violin lol)

I am not entirely sure - i think i'll start with him drawing a picture of a battle (all he ever draws) and tell me a sentence about it and i write it and he copies it. I might also buy the Language Smarts C book - i want SOMETHING for him to be working on mechanics, too, seperately from writing, and that looks like it could work?

Oh, and remember, your youngest is 3 years younger than my youngest . .. my youngest could only read about a dozen words 3 years ago . . .

Teri
10-03-2011, 10:40 AM
I took dictation when Joseph was that age. He struggled with handwriting and the creative process.
It is SO much better today (at 11). I no longer have the battles that we did in 1-3rd grade(ish).

He STILL hates to copy though. He hates to do copywork as an assignment or even copy a rough draft into a final form. I think this has more to do with visual tracking than anything.

Both Joseph and I are extremely visual learners. When we are asked to write something, we see a picture. Finding out where to start dissecting that picture to put it into words is very difficult. What is important, what is not? Where do you start?

Joseph started writing letters before he was 2. I have never tried to correct his upside down writing. It was way too late for that. I did introduce cursive and insist that it be written correctly. He did not mind doing Handwriting without Tears at all. He is a lefty on top of everything.

We used powerpoint and dictation for a very long time in creative writing assignments where the creative writing was the focus. I kept handwriting assignments separate. As he got more comfortable with cursive, I would "let" him do his handwriting on his writing assignment. ;)

Ironically, my dyslexic child is my writer. She loves to write and has several journals and diaries and keeps a blog.

lakshmi
10-03-2011, 11:17 AM
Someone did mention dictation software, and said her daughter was too shy to use it when anyone was home (i used to feel that way about practicing violin lol)

I am not entirely sure - i think i'll start with him drawing a picture of a battle (all he ever draws) and tell me a sentence about it and i write it and he copies it. I might also buy the Language Smarts C book - i want SOMETHING for him to be working on mechanics, too, seperately from writing, and that looks like it could work?

Oh, and remember, your youngest is 3 years younger than my youngest . .. my youngest could only read about a dozen words 3 years ago . . .


Yes, exactly, my kid was only reading about a dozen words, if that. But she's kicked in recently and seems to know more. Mostly like is, it, etc. But that is really just starting to come since I realized that sounding out stuff wasn't working. But also I think that the chemo she received intrathecally was causing some cognitive issues. Now she seems to be understanding a lot more. But I will never know.

I have used the Modern Curriculum Press workbooks. They look similar to The Language Smarts. My son used them in public school and I liked the way they looked, so I bought them for the girls. I got the youngest the level A which is first grade, but it isn't making any sense to her at all. I've thought about getting the Kinder version, but haven't yet. If C is the level that he should be at would you consider dropping the level and not doing the whole book but just parts to gain momentum? That is why I was thinking about using the level below, to build momentum to get into the next level. I don't know how they compare in content, but the MCP books are cheaper. I got some used ones online for about 3 bucks. Of course random pages were missing and it was somewhat written in, but then I knew if I liked them to buy more. Even new I think that they might be less than $40.

I am still considering the dictation software for both of my kids so that they could work more independently. I do a lot of writing for them. But the older one is writing relatively well, but the younger one while not having an aversion to writing or to paper, has some trouble forming letters. Again, likely due to chemo called Vincristine which affects the nervous system. But I don't know if it is where she would be anyway, or if it's iatrogenic.


And is this something that really you already sort of know what you want to do and would rather just have support? Sometimes I just want folks to smile and nod for me and other times I really want help. So maybe I should just be smiling and nodding? Just let me know. <smiling>

dbmamaz
10-03-2011, 04:27 PM
I dijdnt know what I wanted to do BEFORE I started this thread, but now I do. I talked to Raven, and printed out one sample page from language smarts C (which is 2nd grade level, and he is 3rd), and he definitely liked it better than the spectrum writing book, which just has page after page of empty space to fill in with writing. He also liked the idea of drawing a picture and dictating/copying the caption. We agreed to do both, on different days. I'll check out the books you mentioned, but DH won't complain about a $40 book for Raven . . . Even tho we've spent so much on herons tuition and books, and Orion's classes, and sundry texts . . . We CAN afford it, it just makes dh remember how badly he wants to stop the homeschooling so I can get a real job . . ..

But I think learning language mechanics but skipping the writing part is the way to go. This kid is all about logic, and had no trouble with the noun/verb agreement problems on the CAT test. . . .even in 1 st grade, when he could barely read them.

Hampchick
10-03-2011, 05:34 PM
Cara, I'm glad to hear you have a plan now! Sounds like a good start.

lakshmi
10-04-2011, 12:10 AM
Great.. The book is similar to the one you posted. How do you like the math sample you got?

Ayem
10-04-2011, 05:13 AM
Congrats on working out a plan of attack! I find I sometimes just need to get it out there, in order to work out what I’m thinking. Hope it goes well.

I also wanted to add I was astounded at the zero /negative zero proof thingy he came up with the other day (excuse the description, math genius here). Different kids, different strengths.

dbmamaz
10-04-2011, 04:52 PM
Actually, I didnt find any Modern Curriculum Press which seemed similar . . there was only phonics and math and spelling? It didnt look nearly as all-inclusive as the Language Smarts.

The math sample was awesome! He LOVED the textbook, which reads like a comic book. Once chapter had the monster competing in a math team against robots - which totally got him engaged and excited! THere were a LOT of practice problems, more than he will usually do, but because they were progressive and had both * and ** levels, he really learned for himself that doing the practice problems will help you learn to do the harder problems.

For now we are going back to our murderous maths / primary challenge math setup, but i am wondering if I can convince him to go back to singapore, esp if we do textbook (no workbook) and either challenging word problems or one of the other extra books aimed at 'more capable' students. Not sure what level we'd be at . . . its odd, because he understands multiplication, and can do bigger problems, but doesnt want to, and we went over long division once but he was totally resistant . . .he is still perfectly happy to do fractions and division problems he can do in his head, tho.

i need to reveiw the monster academy books . . .

lakshmi
10-04-2011, 11:03 PM
the MCP language stuff is inside the phonics book. Sample pages and all. Glad he liked the math though. I really liked the sample pages I saw. We're still with RightStart so far.

dbmamaz
10-07-2011, 02:55 PM
Just to update, the Language Smarts book came in the mail, and Raven is LOVING it! He's done 3 pages a day with virtually no complaints! It's all very logic based rather than creative, and that is just such a better fit for him. Woot!

Plus, I really love the critical thinking co stuff, and am thrilled that we are using some of it!

lakshmi
10-07-2011, 09:32 PM
woot... woot... that was fast! maybe I'll look for Kinder/1 used somewhere.

Lak001
10-07-2011, 09:53 PM
Just to update, the Language Smarts book came in the mail, and Raven is LOVING it! He's done 3 pages a day with virtually no complaints! It's all very logic based rather than creative, and that is just such a better fit for him. Woot!

Plus, I really love the critical thinking co stuff, and am thrilled that we are using some of it!

That is great!! A double woot!!
Doesn't it feel amazing to bask in the glory when our children overcome the hurdles and succeed.

I came here to tell my dd today wrote a two page essay on aliens! Of course there were a lot of issues with spellings and punctuation. But I loved how creative she was in spinning the story! I'm thrilled beyond words :)

dbmamaz
10-07-2011, 09:56 PM
I would be very excited!!