Does your child enjoy writing or is overwhelmed by writing assignments?
Are you stressed out helping with writing assignments?
Are you tired of the procrastination?
The 3 Roadblocks to Writing and Study Skills
Being frozen unable to write anything
A breakdown between the brain (thought process) and the hand (motor skills)
Not understanding the mechanics of writing
Inability to put your thoughts together with proper grammar and structure.
Inability to organize your thoughts on paper
Skipping words or sentences in their writing so it reads like ‘gobble-de-gook’.
Do you know when your child is overwhelmed by writing there is actually a reason for it and the reason isn’t that your child is lazy?
The Story Behind Discovering the Roadblocks to Writing and Study Skills
Remember when you were in school and you were given an ‘in class’ writing assignment. Were you one of the kids that went right to it and started writing everything you could think of, or were you like me, sitting at your desk, staring blankly at your sheet of notebook paper without a clue about what you were supposed to do.
I remember taking a quick look around the room. Most of the kids had already started writing. I couldn’t even think of what to write about and most of my classmates were already writing. It was not a pleasant experience.
Eventually I learned how to write, even though it was difficult in the beginning.
When I started teaching my children and my students how to write, I noticed something very interesting. Some of them were just like I was, staring at blank sheets of paper, totally frozen. It didn’t matter if they had an identified learning disability, dyslexia, or were even gifted. Some of these students could tell me all kinds of topic related things; they just couldn’t write them down on paper. What was actually happening was there was a breakdown between their brain (thoughts) and their hand.
Not knowing how to begin a writing assignment can even happen with an assignment using their spelling words. One of my students, Zach, came to his session with his weekly spelling assignment: use all of your spelling words in a story. He just didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t get anything down on the paper.
So I would have Zach choose two of his spelling words and tell me a sentence with those words in it. I wrote the sentence down for him to copy. Then I had him choose one or two more words and put them in a sentence that would relate to the first sentence. Again I would write it down for him. After practicing this several times I showed him how to tie the sentences together in a story that had a beginning, middle, and an end.
This method was a bit hard for him to do on his own, until I developed a form for him to write on. The form gave him the structure he needed and it was something he could do by filling-in-the-blanks. It made his spelling and writing assignments a lot easier!
Another student, Randy, had missing pieces in his writing. After staring a blank sheet of paper for about 10 minutes after reading a story, I decided to have him dictate his writing assignment to me so that he could have success immediately. He told me the summary and I wrote it down.
It was very interesting to have him do this because he would often jump from one part of the story to another part without connecting the parts. There was a breakdown here in the sequencing of events and organization. Once Randy started using the fill-in-the-blank forms, his story sequencing greatly improved.
The third story I want to share with you is about my student Adam. He was in high school. The first rough draft he brought to our session was a complete page filled with writing. Unfortunately, the page consisted of only two punctuated sentences. When I tried to decipher it, it made absolutely no sense at all. There was no sentence structure. Thoughts rambled. It was truly what I call ‘gobble-de-gook.’
One day Adam brought a writing web that he had made at school to our session. He told me his topic and then got the web out. (In case you don’t know, a web looks kind of like a spider web with all kinds of notes or key words coming out from the center.)
When he was doing the web it made sense to him but when he tried to write an essay from his web, he couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. His thoughts were all over the place. He couldn’t use the web to help him write his paper.
Adam was actually experiencing all 3 of the roadblocks to writing (he had a breakdown between the thought process and motor skills, was unable to put his thoughts together with proper grammar and structure, and was unable to ogranize his thoughts).
3 Solutions to the top 3 Most Common Writing Roadblocks
The Writing Pack
Knowing the problems your child faces with writing: either being frozen in their writing, problems with grammar, or unable to organize their thoughts, will help you with the solution.
After years of teaching thousands of students, consulting hundreds of teachers, and reading everything I could get my hands on related to writing, I developed three materials to address the roadblocks to writing. After developing a game (The Sentence Zone®), a guide (Writer’s Easy Reference Guide™), and a book (Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills™), I spent years testing them and making changes to them to make them better.
The solutions to writing roadblocks are ones that intertwine and interact with each other. Just as when baking a loaf of bread, the flour and liquid mixture (dough) doesn’t do much without the yeast. And, the yeast doesn’t do anything without sugar. Together all of these ingredients interact with each other. Each ingredient becomes more than it would be on its own. In effect each of their qualities has been multiplied when mixed together. The interaction, baking of the dough, ends up as a delicious loaf of bread. The loaf of bread is not the result of simply baking the individual ingredients, but the interaction of the ingredients together that makes the difference.
So too, being able to put words together into sentences that make sense, putting ideas (multiple sentences) together to make paragraphs, and doing this is a way that is understandable (using correct grammar) is the interaction of words, ideas, and grammar that produces excellent writing skills. That is what makes the difference.
The good news is with a little bit of ‘home tutoring’, you CAN change your child’s writing future by using the materials in the Writing Pack. Your child can feel confident and in more control of their writing and be able to:
- Write quality rough drafts in 10 minutes.
- Cut studying time down with the 5 steps to easy studying.
- Use the 7 secret steps to take on test day that will improve their test scores.
- Reduce homework time and regain family/free time.
- Make slight changes to rough drafts and dramatically improve the final copy.
Solution 1: A sentence building game to help analyze the mechanics of sentences.
The Sentence Zone®
I realized my students that had such trouble putting their spelling words into sentences still had trouble with writing their own sentences without dictating them to me while I wrote them down and then copying them. They still had some fears related to writing a sentence on their own. Would it be a complete sentence? Would it be any good? Would it make sense?
The best way I know of to calm a student’s fears is to create a learning situation that is non-threatening and where they would automatically succeed. So I created a game to teach them how to write sentences. When it was their turn playing The Sentence Zone®, my students created a sentence using color-coded word cards. This was easy for them, picking and choosing the word cards to make interesting sentences.
My younger students played the game to learn how to create a sentence. They learned they needed a blue card (noun), a red card (verb), a capital letter card (to start their sentence), and punctuation card (to complete their sentence) and they would have constructed a sentence and earn points for it. My older students played to learn English grammar as well as sentence structure. This made their English homework so-o-o much easier!
One of the great things about having them play The Sentence Zone® was when they would do their writing at a later time, all I had to say was, “Remember the kinds of sentences you made that you got the big points for when you were playing The Sentence Zone®? That’s the kind I want you to write.” My students knew exactly what I was talking about. And the quality of their sentences improved dramatically.
Solution 2: The mechanics of writing in a reference guide.
The Writer’s Easy Reference Guide™
Often when your child comes home with their writing assignment they don’t want to have to do anything more than absolutely necessary to get it done. But, they may need some help on how to format their paper, or need a little bit of advice on how to make their paper better, or how to write a work cited or bibliography.
You know they just need a little something extra to help give them confidence with their writing assignments. It was the same thing for me. My children and students didn’t need a ton of help. What they did need was a quick and easy, down and dirty guide to remind them of the paragraph, letter, and essay formats.
I knew my kids and students would need to be able to independently fix their papers because they wouldn’t always have someone else available to proof them. They also needed a quick reference resource to guide them in how to make small changes to their papers to really improve them. I had shown them an example of how just changing the verb in their sentences their overall writing improved. But then they couldn’t always think of additional verbs on their own.
Because of this, I developed a Writer’s Easy Reference Guide™. It would give them all the grammar and writing tips they would need in one place.
Solution 3: A book to help study skills and the writing process.
Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills™
Every week your child usually has some sort of writing assignment. You know that writing assignments can start as early as 1st grade. That’s usually the grade when your child comes home and has to use their spelling words in sentences. As they get older they have book reports, paragraphs, history/social studies reports, or essays to write. The writing assignments seem endless. Your child just can’t get away from them. And these assignments are not always easy.
What if your child could start by just filling-in-the-blanks when they are given a reading or writing assignment in order to make the assignment much easier? After working with my own kids as well as my students I found that I always got grief from them when they had a writing assignment. Finally I started to make some fill-in-the-blank forms for them to help them with their writing. The whining stopped and they were suddenly able to actually write!
On top of actually being able to write, the quality of their writing improved too. They weren’t spending a ton of time on their writing assignments any more either. When I saw how quickly my students were improving their writing skills I made even more fill-in-the-blank forms and compiled them into a reproducible book, Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills™.
An additional by-product of several of the forms was that my students had even created their own study guides for getting ready for test days.