When Your High Schooler Is Woefully Behind In Writing
My fifteen-year-old son started taking classes, part-time, at a local private school this year.
It’s been a wonderful addition to his education.
He has explored world history and cultures, art, and is even taking a philosophy class.
His teachers have been unanimously impressed with his intellect, his ideas and his overall ability to reason.
The one struggle he has had, in any subject that requires it?
Now, writing has historically been a struggle for my son for a variety of reasons.
He is dysgraphic and struggles with both the feeling of holding a pencil in his hand and the sound of a pencil (or pen) scratching against paper. In addition, writing a cohesive paragraph or essay requires planning and execution that can be a struggle for any child with gaps in executive function.
In short, this is not new, nor is it a surprise.
But he’s fifteen. He is approaching college and/or adult employment.
I have been on the look out for a writing program that is structured enough to help accommodate his differences, but still work with his intellectual needs and ability.
Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share products that have worked well for my family in the hopes they might help yours as well!
When Your High Schooler Is Woefully Behind In Writing
I first heard about Write Shop from Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She not only has used the program and written about it for years, she also included it in her Simple Homeschool Day In The Life this year. I respect Kris’s wisdom and experience, plus her kids are pretty cool, so I decided we should give it a try.
An Introduction To Write Shop
Write Shop was created by two homeschool moms, looking for a writing curriculum that would provide step by step instruction, where lessons build upon each other incrementally, similar to the way most children learn math.
In the teacher’s manual, the moms say they were looking for a program that –
emphasized clarity, conciseness, colorful vocabulary and interesting sentence types
focused on developing a strong paragraph
offered a wide variety of writing activities
helped students know exactly what to look for when refining their own work
helped parents know how to methodically evaluate their children’s writing
They found no single curriculum that ideally encompassed all of these elements, so Write Shop was born.
I share this list with you because if I were to make a list of what I want and need for my son at this point in his learning, it would include all of these points.
I also love that the goal of the program is to create confidence in writing, by providing the scaffolding needed for the learner to progress at his or her own pace. The truth is, I am less concerned about my son being behind in writing and much more concerned about his avoidance and lack of confidence in the subject.
Write Shop is like a tool belt that the learner slowly but surely adds more tools to, as he learns to build more and more complicated structures.
Why Write Shop Works For Us
I cannot stress the importance of this. The program does exactly what it set out to do – build with detailed step-by-step instruction. The lessons progress from the very basics, like indenting the first line of a paragraph, to evaluating your own writing for style and mechanics. Because it builds slowly, my son has had to opportunity to really practice and begin to master concepts that have alluded him in the past.
The program is designed to take as much, or as little, time as necessary to master the learning. I love that in the teacher’s manual, there are variations that include a one year approach as well as a three-year approach. This allows for the individualization my son needs to really take his time with the learning, rather than feeling “behind” and rushed to progress.
Checklists For Proofing
I LOVE this aspect of Write Shop. Every single lesson includes a series of checklists to walk the learner through how to complete and then proof his own writing. This helps my son focus on the task at hand, and not feel overwhelmed by the process itself. Again, because executive function is an area we are working on, this is essential.
Just as the learner is walked, step-by-step through the process, so too is the teacher. The teacher’s manual is just as incremental in instructing me as I help my son. It also includes checklists for proofing and evaluating my son’s writing that take all the guess-work out of teaching a struggling writer. (Plus, you know momma loves to check some boxes!)
Overall, for my oldest son, I cannot imagine a better approach than what Write Shop provides. If you have a learner struggling in his or her writing, I highly recommend you take a look.
This bundle includes a total of 480 writing and essay prompts to inspire both elementary and teen students for an entire calendar year.
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.