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Old 12-11-2012, 02:43 AM   #1
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I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

I would love some suggestions. We are really struggling with language arts this year and I am at a bit of a loss as to what to try.

Background - I have two homeschoolers (and three who are too little) they are in grades 4 and 5. We also have a tutor who is a retired teacher/librarian who works with them 4 hours per week. I personally don't have a lot of time to run programs BUT their tutor has 2 hours per week per kiddo.

DS1 is a great reader (above grade level) but a terrible speller and writer. His writing lacks length (4 word sentences etc) and his actual printing is terrible with random capitals, poor spelling and lack of punctuation. I just read about dysgraphia and honestly think he may have it. I know he has some other LDs which aren't diagnosed.

DS2 has pdd-nos and a fine motor delay as well as some other sort of learning disabilities. He reads and writes at a grade 1 or K level. He is of average intelligence as well and his understanding is good. When his work is done orally he is excellent. He is a grade ahead in science and socials (in grade 4 but an A student in grade 5 science) BUT with everything done orally.

Their tutor is at a loss on how to reach them. She isn't seeing any improvement in their skills in language arts What we need is a curriculum which concentrates on getting them to produce MORE written work. We need to move past the 4 word sentences with poor spelling and into the starts of paragraphs. I like graphic organizers but it is difficult and too time consuming to find them and then design the lessons to go with them. Does anyone know of a program which may help?

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Old 12-11-2012, 07:25 AM   #2
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

Have you tried Bob Jones English? They alternate between a grammar lesson and a written lesson. It's full of color which seems to go over here better than a black and white book.

Then, what about Growing with Grammar. That is a nice and easy program, but I can't remember all about the writing in it. We used this for 3rd grade and my dd loved it.

Something else that is fun is Splashes From the River. You can watch some sample videos right on the site, and I believe YouTube might have some as well.

From what you are saying, though, with all the obstacles to deal with do you need to push the writing so hard? All children are different and develop at different rates, let alone having other hurdles to master at the same time. I really wouldn't worry so much about it. But, that is just my opinion. I have a 4th/5th grader who is behind in some things and she also has had mountains to conquer.

What I have learned in my 10 years of homeschooling is that children aren't going to excel at every subject. Writing and Grammar may just not be their thing. If they are trying their best, and if their best is a grade 'C' level, then congratulate them on their best. If you know they can do 'A' work and aren't applying themselves, that is when the push comes in.

It's hard to not push. Been there, done that. Each child has to come into their own. Some things take longer, much longer, than others.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:03 AM   #3
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

I was going to suggest Rod and Staff, but there isn't a lot of writing in it. It is very thorough for grammer, which maybe you need. There is some writing in it, just not a lot. For the writing part, you might look into Institute for Excellence in Writing. It is pricey, but you'd be able to use it with all your kids. It is supposedly the best writing program out there. We have used Writing Strands before, but it seemed disjointed to me. Others have enjoyed it, though, so that is something to consider.

You might try having them just do journal writing for now. Just get them used to writing and then slowly work on different aspects of it. Copywork can be a beneficial tool for learning how to write the structure (capital at the beginning, punctuation, etc).

Until learning disbilities are identified and you know what issues you are dealing with, I would try to not stress about it.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:17 AM   #4
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

I was also going to suggest copywork with identofyong the various parts of speech, capitalization, punctuation, etc.

Good luck on identifying the various issues that you children might have. Once you know what you are dealing with, then it is easier to develop strategies to work around those.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

Check out Institute for Excellence in Writing. I also really like copywork and progress into dictation.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

I'm in agreement with not pushing writing. It seems my 5th grader is just now starting to get ready for it. We are gonna try the Five Finger Paragraph program this year. I just got it in though so I can't tell you much about it. We are also using Story Starters to help with imagination. You read the story and finish it yourself. Alot of times the problem is just not knowing what to write about. And it's a very thick book! Could probably last for 2 years.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:27 PM   #7
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

Could you encourage writing through free thinking?

I'm sorry I am not familiar with the special needs you listed, so maybe this will not work at all.

Could you ask them an open ended question and ask them to write the answer to it?

From there, could you just explain what a paragraph is?

I dunno, I am new to HSing. My ODD is far ahead for reading/writing, and she is an audio learner (sorry, I know there is a technical term, can't remember it atm). I have a big white board and we talk about EVERYTHING. I write on the board so she can see it, too.

Could you start by making them copy paragraphs? Or identify paragraphs in books?

I'm sorry, I don't have any curric rec's. Just didn't want to read and not offer something. I hope you find something that works!!
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:31 PM   #8
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I would suggest writing strands starting with level 2 or 3 and continuing the oral writing for your struggling writer. Also I would suggest getting them started on oral narration. Meaning the tell you back, in complete sentences what they have read or better still, what you have read to them. Oral narration is the begining of learn how to write.

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:43 PM   #9
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

We recently switched to Building to Good English. It is a lot like Rod & Staff but the student writes in the workbook. It is very inexpensive but seems great thus far (we are in our third week with it) We also use Easy Grammar and Writing Strands.

Have you thought about going very basic/simple?
English for the Thoughtful Child or First Language Lessons may be worth looking at.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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Re: I need LA suggestions please - we are really struggling!

I got jump in: a workbook for reluctant writers by apologia and so far it's going great
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