Need real writing help…

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  • My older two children, 9 and 11, are having real troubles moving from oral narrations to written. They are now doing IEW spelling (because their spelling is pretty bad) and we also use Shurley English jingles along with Cozy Grammar. Somehow getting their narration on paper is really hard for them. We have gone back to Aesop fables which is helping a bit, but it is still terribly laborious getting it on paper.

    I would like some suggestions of writing curriculums that will help them get things on paper without tears. We have used IEW-B and it was ok, but it was so formulaic it didn’t transfer well to narration and back again. I want them to get their own narrations on paper in an organized fashion.

    Any ideas?


    I have not encountered that Caroline (yet) as my grade 3 DD is quite the little writer and artist, but I have a couple thoughts? If they help, great, if not, sorry! =(

    Have you tried small spurts of writing? One of the things I do with dawdling in my home ….not that you are experiencing dawdling….is to set a timer. Then they need to be focused for a short time period and get whatever thoughts down on paper as they can. If you start with a sentence or 2, perhaps they will start over time being able to come up with longer narrations. Also, what about reading a line or tweo to them and having them copy it down at the end of every sentence? Do they do much copywork? Copywork may help in growing their narrations as well. Have you tried the brainstorming mind maps? Perhaps just learning to get their thoughts down will help! I hope others have other ideas..!! Blessings and good luck!


    Hi Caroline!

    Have you seen the Story Board from Lively Lessons?

    Maybe this would help with your dc’s written narrations.

    Blessings! 🙂


    Sonya Shafer

    9 and 11 might be a bit early for written narrations, depending on the children, of course. Are they fluent and comfortable with oral narration yet? If not, forget the written narrations until that stage is achieved. If you’re sure they’re ready for written narrations, here are a couple of transition ideas you might try:

    1. Have them narrate orally while you type or write their narration. When they get very near the end, turn it over to them to finish on their own. As they become skilled and un-intimidated (is that a word?) with writing those short portions, you can increase their portion in small steps (do the last third of narration, then the last half, etc.).
    2. Require only one written narration per week until they become more comfortable getting their thoughts onto paper.


    Wonderful advice Sonya. I totally agree about making sure they are fluent with oral. But, I will go on and say that I have one that is extremely fluent with oral but still get a written narration down is hard. It is more because he knows what he wants to say in his head but then to write it down is completely different process. On most occasions it is not written exactly the way he wants but then we can use it for grammar work during the week.


    Writing is hard work!

    One suggestion is to tell the child simply to get something down on paper to work with. “Tell me ONE thing from this reading and jot that down – don’t worry about it being a proper sentence, don’t worry about telling the entire story at once – just a few words is fine.”

    All you are looking for is a starting point, not a finished product. Once he has a few words or phrases on the paper or screen, he can begin to make a complete sentence out of them and begin to tell the story. Sometimes I think kids believe that have to jump to the finished product and don’t understand the steps it takes to get there.

    If there are too many ideas in his head and the child is overwhelmed about where to start, have him write down a word or two for each idea and then chose *one at a time* to write about. Picking one idea at a time, is crucial in easing nerves about writing and in learning how to focus attention.

    Writing the ideas on post-it notes or index cards might be useful as the notes can be easily re-arranged, and the new writer can see that sentences can be written “out of order” and still be put back together later. This works well for some writers and not others. Some writers do much of their initial work in their head, others need to see their words on paper. Be willing to experiment.

    Modeling a written narration might be of help, too. Write a written narration of something you are reading and share it with your family. Talk about how you decided what to write, how much writing you did in your head before picking up the pencil, how many little scribbles and notes you had to make on the paper before getting to your finished narration. Compare your first draft to the finished narration.

    I think of writing like sculpting. First you need a big glob of clay. The clay is not the finished product. You work at the clay, adding, changing, cutting pieces away. Writing is the same way. When the child knows what he wants to say but can’t write it down, I would consider that a glob of clay. That’s the perfect starting point – he has the material to work with! Working with a glob of clay is messy and cumbersome at first, just like getting ideas on paper is cumbersome. This awkward process is a normal part of writing. A finished piece of writing is neat and tidy, but it’s a messy job to get there.

    I think the wonderful literature we read with our children is the very best tool for teaching writing, but sometimes I think we need to remind our kids that the authors very likely struggled over every sentence and made many, many changes and corrected many mistakes along the way.

    All the best to you.

    THANK YOU, Thank you, thank you!!!! I guess I have been frustrated for nothing. I have been lax with their oral narrations lately which , I believe, has been a HUGE factor for my frustration. I am now stepping back and using Aesop to get the kids narrating comfortably again. I tend to see things in too broad a scope and when I see how far they have to go–I panic.

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