Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Teaching Writing

My children have traditionally struggled with their writing assignments. I don't push actual penmanship until around 4th grade. Don't get me wrong, the kids can write, but I don't push for neatness until then. My kids all have VERY late in the year birthdays and their fine motor skills aren't usually up to the same level as other children in their grade.

With penmanship being a struggle, actual writing papers isn't a big priority for our school until the kids are around 9. All of the children write well by high school, but in this particular academic area, we are delayed learners.

This year Madelyn was invited to attend a writing class once a week with some of her friends. The class was taught by a retired school teacher who enjoys teaching writing. The class has been such a blessing to Madelyn! Her writing skills have grown substantually since September and she actually enjoys writing.

The instructor mentioned to my friend that she likes to read a selection to her students and then have them write about the excerpt. The teacher believes that young children do not have enough life experiences to just write a paper on a topic.

After pondering the teacher's remarks, I've decided many of the writing programs we have used failed because the children lacked life experiences to write good papers. It's hard to write a well written paper about "What I did for summer vacation" when summer vacation was spent playing video games and hanging out with friends. The paper doesn't contain much information that will interest the reader. The student counts the words, writes large, and struggles to fulfill the required space.

Isn't it easier to let the child live their life and gain a variety of experiences and then ask them to write. Narration and dictation seem to be more productive. The child learns to process into their own words and learns to tell or retell without struggling to meet a minimum count. The child focuses on the information, not the quantity.

Madelyn's class ended today. I'm so thankful that she had the opportunity to work with this talented woman.

1 comment:

Bikermom said...

I had a friend tell me that until they were in high school, she basically just had her kids answer questions in Science and History and the experience they gained from just doing that in the writing structure department, gave them confidence to conquer more complicated things later on. Yes, not too much life experience I agree but they can verbalize what they just read in history etc.