Need suggestions from English teachers to help my DS write.

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by froggie71, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. froggie71

    froggie71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2009
    Shamong, NJ
    First of all I have 3 boys. 15 (ADD) smart kid, but lazy. 13 almost 14 an average student. And 12 really a pretty smart kid, but the one I need help with. All of my boys do not enjoy reading, though the youngest will usually do it without complaint when assigned to do reading. All of them despise writing. My youngest however doesn't just dislike writing, but seems to have a total block. I've been dealing with this since 3rd grade and now he is in 7th. We've tried all kinds of things from letting him type his work on the computer to recording on a tape player and even bribing. If he is giving a writing assignment in class and has 45 min to write, he mostly likely will write nothing or very little. It's not like he isn't a creative kid. He can come up with some interesting stories. It's just when he is told he has to write and in a specific time period he totally freezes up. I spoke with his teacher yesterday about this. He had to write about someone, anyone, in history that he would like to meet and what would have happened during that meeting. In 42 min he wrote 1 sentence. ( It needed to be 3 paragraphs.) He was able to take the assignment home last night. He finally came up with a person, but then couldn't think of anything to write. Many tears were shed. This process took all afternoon and evening. (with breaks of course). I tried to explain to him if it was too difficult to think of something to write about this particular person, maybe he needed to change who he wanted to write about. Finally DH came up with Walt Disney. (DS loves ducks and one of his favorite characters is Donald Duck). He finished in about 10min. His teacher called today to say he did great today in class and his work last night was good.

    Sorry so long, but does anyone have any suggestions that will help with this situation? I hate seeing 0 on assignments because he just can't seem to get past this block. Not to mention the length of time it take to help him with home assignments as well as the frustration and tears. I know not everyone excels in every area of academia. But I know there has to be something that can help.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  2. Camelot Farms

    Camelot Farms Chickenista

    It sounds like the writing might not be the big issue, but maybe the 'open-ness' of the assignment. Was he struggling to write about a historical figure or struggling to pick one?

    Just trying to flesh out the picture to get you as much help as we can...
  3. Joz

    Joz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 8, 2009
    MidCity, New Orleans
    One sentence at a time. Maybe focusing on JUST a thesis statement would help with some direction.
  4. greenfamilyfarms

    greenfamilyfarms Big Pippin'

    Feb 27, 2008
    Elizabethtown, NC
    Have him draw a concept map (bubble map, flow chart, etc.) to help get him started. Getting started IS the hardest part of writing. The concept maps will get his brain working and imagination flowing onto the paper.

    Here are some links with ideas for mapping:

    How to Construct a Concept Map

    Critical Thinking Strategies: Concept Mapping

    Kinds of Concept Maps
  5. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    I agree with the concept map idea. If he doesn't like that structure have him start by just jotting anything that comes to his mind in list form. He can refer back to this as he writes for inspiration. Another good thing is to remind him to JUST WRITE is better than to write nothing at all. Tell him don't worry about flow, transition, perfect grammar, etc the first time around. Just get thoughts -- any thoughts relevant to the topic -- on the paper. Edit, rearrange and spruce up later.
  6. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Maybe for a while his assignment could be much more open, such as "write a story, any story about anything".
    "...write about someone, anyone, in history that he would like to meet and what would have happened during that meeting." is not as easy as it first sounds, especially for someone who isn't "into" writing.
  7. froggie71

    froggie71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2009
    Shamong, NJ
    I really do think it is actually the writing that is the issue. In the past he has been assigned specific topics or given the opportunity to chose his own. Neither seemed to help him. I tried getting him to just write down ideas. That's where is all breaks down. He just suddenly has no ideas at all. I will look at the links for mapping. Sounds like a good direction to go. Thanks to everyone who responded.
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Wow! This was almost painful to read. I've been on the other end as a teacher, working with kids who I've known were quite capable, but who simply didn't perform (for various reasons). It's one of the MOST frustrating feelings. My son HAS gone through the LAZY phase you mentioned with your eldest (lol...and is JUST coming out of it his junior year), but he's never had any real struggles. As a parent, I can only imagine how difficult this is for you guys, and it sounds like you are great with staying on top of things, trying to help him.

    I doubt I could suggest anything that you haven't tried. At school, I'm sure they are teaching him how to web out ideas so that he has a writing "plan." That's an organizational strategy that helps many. Someone earlier mentioned "one sentence at a time," but it sounds like he's getting stuck even coming up with a first sentence... There are also kids who are quite smart who have learning disabilities; so I guess I'd ask if that were a possibility.

    The last thing I will say as a parent is this. If my own son was bright, but not performing in school, and I knew it wasn't just laziness or not liking a subject, I would do several things, not necessarily in the order mentioned. I would have him tested for a potential learning disability by a private institution (takes FOREVER through the public school system). I would also consider a therapist who works with kids. For some reason one of my first thoughts was "fear of failure." Maybe if he's not comfortable/confident in the area of literacy (traditionally, boys struggle in this area much more than girls), then he thinks all of his ideas are bad??? Lastly, I would seek out a tutor, either through your school system or through a private tutoring company.

    I do wish you luck in resolving this.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  9. 1stepcloser

    1stepcloser Poultry In Motion

    Sep 16, 2009
    Dover, TN
    Ahhhh. Good times. This is what I do. Teach teachers to teach kids how to write. I could write a GIANT message here but it would be easier to go here. --->

    kids start hating it because they are hung up on the editing and do not understand editing/revision are two different things. Writing is an event, it is a process. It takes time to write something well and really take ownership in the end product. Unfortunately most want it done by X,Y,Z v. getting a really good quality paper from the kid.
  10. ducks4you

    ducks4you Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    First, before I give you any advice as to help your child write in school, let me tell you MY background. I taught Science, then Drama, then QUIT the public school system--might go back, but BIG issue with the lack of discipline. I have taught piano, voice and equitation, over a 30 year period. DH is an atty, I have 2 DD's that are English Majors and one DD is a communications major. (I was Theater/Music, myself.) We are a V E R Y V E R B A L family!!

    That being prefaced, I have 4 simple exercises for you both to try:
    1) give your son a prompt and ask for ONE topic sentence, NO MORE...repeat with a new prompt, repeat with a new prompt, repeat with a new prompt

    2) Ask your son to teach you how to do something HE does well. Write down his suggestions, in order, then show him what HE has written
    Do it again with a new skill that he can teach you.

    3) You type while your son dictates a story about an event--something that occurred at summer camp, perhaps?
    Print this and cut it into paragraphs. Ask you son to put it back together IN ORDER.
    You type out your own story, cut into paragraphs, and ask him to assemble.

    4) Help your son find a FORUM online (that is safe, like BYC) My daughters went from hunt and peck to >90 wpm because they found online friends and starting W R I T I N G all of the time. Honestly, there are SAFE places for teenagers online.

    Your son has a mental block against writing. Writing is written communication. People that do not write well do not communicate clearly. Students can get bogged down in the use of synonyms and correct punctuation. Once your son learns to answer questions clearly, as one is asked to in the courtroom, writing will become much easier for him.

    Other students have a similar mental block against math. Most teachers don't know how to help students with these problems because their education classes that they took, and the seminars that they attend emphasize current pedagogical theory. (Current elementary math pedagogy is now "estimation." I am sure that the people you do business with would not mind if you underestimated your bill sometimes.) I hope that the Concept Maps help your son. BTW, I AM familiar with concept maps, however, students that cannot outline their thoughts are not necessarily ready for them.

    Please, let me know if these help. [​IMG]

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