Struggling Reader, Written narrations & Using Language Well

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  • Regan

    We are about to begin the next school year and my eldest will be in 6th grade.  🙂   He reads well, but is definitely not on a 6th grade level.  I would say he is on about a 3rd grade level.  He also struggles with spelling a bit.  It all makes sense.  I don’t think he has any learning challenges at this time, but reading goes hand in hand with spelling in that if he is struggling to read, it makes sense that he would struggle with spelling, right?    He was becoming a little discouraged so we had a nice talk and I told him we are going to read some books he really enjoys that don’t feel so hard and we will build upon a strong foundation 🙂  We ordered some books he is looking forward to reading so he is in better spirits.  🙂

    My plan is to begin our school year with books that will boost his confidence, like The Adventures of Buster Bear.  I will sit with him and let him read to me and then ask for a narration.  He gives great narrations.  However, I know it is recommended that they begin adding in written narrations.  Would you add that in at this time or would you wait a little longer?  If so, how often should children at this age be doing written narrations?

    Also, he is in Using Language Well Book 1 and is about to venture into the second half of the book which requires prepared dictation, which I know would feel very overwhelming to him.  Would you continue on but just ask him to transcribe those passages in a separate notebook until you feel he is ready for prepared dictation?

    Thank you for any feedback you wonderful mamas can give.  It is my plan to really focus on reading this year and to build a strong foundation.  He loves to read and loves history, adventure, animals and the outdoors.  I want him to be able to pick up those books he’s had his eye on with confidence!  🙂

    PS.  Please feel free to share any book recommendations you have as well!




    If it was me I would continue using the SW lessons as transcription. I tried switching to dictation because I thought I was “supposed to” before my son was fully ready and it was rough! We went back to transcription and things were so much better. For my kids I see spelling improvements around 6th – 7th grade and up to that point it just seemed so “slow going”.

    Work where your son is at, you know him best, and things will continue to fall into place. There is a forum post active right now that talks about SW and the steps. You might find some helpful suggestions.

    We did the suggestion where I would “quiz” my son on just a select few words, not the entire passage, while he did transcription and it worked well to challenge him but not overwhelm him when spelling was still challenging.

    I would not worry about written narration for him, but would move into being his scribe. Have him tell you and you type or write his narration. I was amazed how that really helped my kids because they had to learn how to gather thoughts but pause along the way because I could not write as fast as they talked. It taught them how to continue with their thoughts even when having the pause and when they moved into written narration it went much smoother.

    If he wants to write his narration focus on just certain words or things in the written narration. My older son stsrtrd to want want to write some of his so I would hold him accountable for words that he knew and others I would mention or help him look up but not make a bit deal out of. Start out at just one a week, written, and as skills improve add another one per week.

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