This post is a sponsored conversation on behalf of WriteShop. All opinions are my own.
I’ve been in a mini crisis over here because my 9 1/2-year-old isn’t reading and writing as well as I would like him to after several years of targeted intervention in those areas. It can be difficult to know whether a dyslexic child is truly struggling or if we’re pushing them too hard. Teaching reluctant writers and readers can be confusing!
Being a veteran homeschool mom doesn’t immunize me from struggles but my many years of homeschooling have taught me to expect bumps in the road and know that there are creative solutions out there. For reading, we signed our son up for a summer of educational therapy with our local NILD tutor. NILD combines the evidence-based Orton-Gillingham reading approach with a wide variety of working memory and processing tasks to strengthen those underlying areas of weakness.
For writing, we have been working slowly but surely through the WriteShop Junior, Book D writing curriculum. While there is no curriculum that is a perfect fit for all learners, WriteShop is so full of hands-on projects and interactive activities that I have very little adjusting to do to both hold my son’s attention and encourage this reluctant writer to write.
As a left-brained, linear thinker, it is tempting to think of hands on activities as ‘extra’ or even unnecessary. The truth is that these are the ways that our right-brained, creative types learn and remember!
Using Hands-on Activities and Dictation to Engage the Reluctant Writer
WriteShop includes a wide variety of hands-on activities and opportunities to narrate or dictate throughout each lesson.
Model and Teach: As the parent works through this part of the writing process, he or she models the new writing skill and the child is not required to write. I love that this part of the lesson is completely scripted. Teaching reluctant writers isn’t easy, so I appreciate having my hand held!
Pre-writing: Each WriteShop lesson introduces the new writing concepts with a pre-writing activity that is hands-on, and often verbal, so there isn’t any writing involved.
Skill Builders: In this part of the lesson, worksheets, games, or other activities are used to introduce or give practice with the new writing skill.
Brainstorming: My son loves this part of the writing process. He struggles to write, but he has no trouble generating ideas. During this stage, he is encouraged to think creatively and use his imagination while I write all of his ideas on a whiteboard. This assistance, really helps him to form his ideas before setting a pen to paper.
The Writing Project: Each lesson’s writing project is a culmination of the previous parts of the lesson. Kids are encouraged to write their ‘sloppy copy’ – a term my older kids have carried with them well past their WriteShop Junior days. And hey, what boy isn’t happy to create a sloppy copy or a sloppy anything for that matter!?
Smaller Steps and Flying Higher: Each writing project also includes ideas for both the reluctant writer or the accelerated writer in the Smaller Steps and Flying Higher section of the lesson. These ‘smaller steps’ include many of the accommodations I know work best with my struggling writers such as allowing dictation, creating posters, and creating word banks.
Editing and Revising: Parents walk and talk their kids through the editing process. I love WriteShop’s encouragement to look for words and sentences that are correct – the “Job Well Done” search – using checklists and the Fold-N-Go grammar guides for reference. My kids who struggle with writing need a lot of encouragement.
Publishing the Project: This final step of the writing process has been a huge motivator for my struggling writer. Students are encouraged to publish their final draft in a fun and creative way. Our reluctant writer loves to share the polished final draft of his hard work by displaying it in a frame or lift-the-flap book or by presenting his funny story to our family.
So much of teaching a struggling learner is about encouraging them to persevere through difficulties. It is no wonder that kids resist writing when reading, writing, and spelling are hard. Finding the right tools to teach kids in an engaging, hands-on and interactive way can help motivate even the most reluctant of writers.
Visit the WriteShop website for more information and to purchase.