My son is a brain. What can I say? He holds a PhD in theology. I can’t read most of his papers, but not because they’re illegible. His vocabulary simply surpassed mine years ago.
He was a smart child, too, assembling complicated Lego creations with the skill of a trained artisan and the patience of Job. And he was a verbal little guy who could spin stories around the campfire that kept us glued to our logs!
We were grateful for those glimpses into his bright young mind because academically, that boy struggled at every turn. He could memorize all sorts of historical facts and details. But the three Rs eluded him.
- Math was a nightmare.
- He finally learned to read (sort of) at age 7 but couldn’t manage chapter books till he was 11 or 12.
- And writing? Forget it! His hand and shoulders tensed and cramped as he gripped his pencil in a stranglehold.
Illegible handwriting. Horrible spelling. Letters and words that ran together like ink in the rain. And an overall aversion to anything having to do with pencil and paper.
Although Ben wasn’t diagnosed with a specific learning disability, he did have a kinesthetic deficit (and perhaps some sensory processing issues) that created learning challenges and caused him to exhibit symptoms of dysgraphia.
I’m guessing your child struggles too. I’m no expert in the area of special needs, but let me give a brief overview of three common learning disabilities that can affect writing in your homeschool.
Dyslexia, though a reading disorder, is one of several learning disabilities that affect writing and spelling in your homeschool. Dyslexic students often struggle with the learning process of writing. They usually show a big gap between their ability to tell you something and their ability to write it down. In addition, the dyslexic student’s symptoms can include:
- Avoiding writing whenever possible
- Laborious, often illegible handwriting
- Problems with sentence structure
- Long run-on sentences
- Incomplete sentences
- Poor spelling
- Poor word and line spacing
- Difficulty proofreading his own work (or appearing careless) because he can’t see his errors
Dysgraphia, another learning disability that affects writing, is a neurological disorder that can produce its own set of writing difficulties for your homeschool child. The writer with dysgraphia can exhibit these symptoms:
- Poor or illegible handwriting
- Holding the pencil in a death grip
- Avoiding writing at all cost
- Using the shortest words instead of the best words
- Strong oral/verbal skills but difficulty communicating ideas in writing
- Problems forming letters
- Poor word and line spacing
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity and can lead to a variety of academic problems for your child. The ADHD writer’s symptoms often include:
- Lack of focus and general distractability
- Difficulty paying attention to detail
- Making careless errors
- Having trouble finishing assignments
- Avoiding writing projects that require the student to stay mentally focused
Our Success Story
No doubt about it, writing is a tough subject for most of us homeschool moms to teach. When our kids have been diagnosed with (or we suspect they have) one or more learning disabilities that affect writing, the challenge is magnified. I want to encourage you that there’s hope for teaching writing to your own learning-challenged child.
Though I tried to teach Ben to write using the conventional methods that worked with his sisters, something just wasn’t clicking. Bursting with ideas, he couldn’t manage to transfer his thoughts to paper.
So how did that boy make the leap from struggling student to academic A-list? Honestly, I can’t pin it on any one thing.
Rather, a number of factors contributed to his turnaround, including the late Dr. Raymond Moore’s timeless, encouraging books Better Late Than Early and Homegrown Kids; high school involvement in homeschool speech and debate; and WriteShop.
What worked for us may not work for you, though I’m sure you already know that. Still, there are some universal principles that might help you over the hurdle, such as these 6 ways to help your special needs child with homeschool writing. You’ll appreciate all the practical tips and solutions for helping your struggling writer.
WriteShop curriculum is ideal for homeschool children of all ages who learn with difficulty!
Not only will WriteShop teach your child how to write, it will show you how to teach writing. All WriteShop products offer schedules, tips, activities, lesson plans, and checklists that help you teach effectively and edit and grade your children’s work with an objective eye.
Do any of your children have learning disabilities that affect writing in your homeschool? Watch your struggling writers begin to blossom as WriteShop’s step-by-step lessons guide them toward success!
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