Writing Suggestions

Until a child is reading and spelling well on their own, I personally recommend that you not have them write out sentences independently. I use this method with the Christ-Centered Curriculum, Climbing to Good English and Pathway workbooks and all other resources we use. This may seem little radical but it works! Most children benefit from this method until they are around nine to 12 years of age, depending on their academic abilities. Test the waters from time to time to determine if they are ready to write on their own.

In traditional methods of having the child "journalling" or writing on their own, they practice over and over again mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. They can get very angry and frustrated when they have to re-write, correct, etc. after all of their initial hard efforts. It can take a lifetime to undo the damage and to make them confident in spelling and correct grammar usage! This is because the mind logs into memory first experiences thus, if the first experience is to spell the word elephant as "elefant" and that incorrect spelling occurs a number of times before correction, then the mind will always spell it incorrectly first! Most children can think more quickly than they can put their thoughts on paper. They can lose their whole train of thought and take forever to get written down what started out as a great idea and ends up as incomplete and often scattered ideas on the paper. Use our method to finish the job in a fraction of the time with no tears!

Have the child dictate to you any answers that require being given as a sentence or paragraph. Some children need your "prompts" for answering in sentence form. Discuss the grammatical structure and possible rewording. You write out the results on scrap paper with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Then the child writes the answer in their workbook etc. Using this procedure they are practising correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation and eventually they automatically recognize when there are errors. This saves you and the child much frustration and frees up loads of time for accomplishing other tasks. The child does not have to unlearn incorrect spelling and punctuation but instead develops excellent skills from the very beginning.

If the child makes an error in their work (such as a spelling or copying error), you erase the incorrect word and then have the child print/write in the correct word. By not having them look at the "error" you are not reinforcing that error in their mind. Instead, they are viewing only "truth" and accuracy. If the word is one which the child has misspelled previously, have the child write it out five times and use it in a sentence.

Use scrap paper to write rough drafts of paragraphs, stories, reports. Create a 2" wide column down the right side of the paper, entitled "Key Words/Ideas"



Key Words/Ideas

Discuss and then list key words and ideas that the child will want to use in the assignment. On the left write your child's dictation, leaving a space between each line and extra spacing between words for adding in adjectives, new words, ideas, etc. later. The child then copies from the rough draft, either printing, writing or typing it out in its final form. We staple typed final copies into the appropriate workbook or place in a binder.

I highly recommend the Christ-Centered Curriculum "Phonics Drill Reader" (item #340) for spelling instruction. The words are grouped together according to 89 phonics rules and their exceptions which are also given in the book. You can use this book effectively with children up to about grade eight for teaching spelling, and for developing word attack skills and reading speed. In addition, there are lists of the 100 most commonly used words, Latin suffixes and prefixes and their meanings, and 152 words common to the Christian faith (such as justification, regeneration, sanctification, miracles, perseverance, etc.).

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