coaching, reading and writing skills, story writing

Writing stage two: The writer stays in control.


The writing Roles of ‘writer’ and ‘editor’ help keep your writer in control of their writing. 

 

hainvg fun learning

Dear families.

Many of us have a tendency to believe that we know more than our children…and often we are right, but in the case of writing stories I can’t emphasize enough the importance of NOT taking over your child’s writing because you believe that you have better ideas! Before you know it, you will be writing for them, or dictating what they should write. How does that help them find their own writer’s voice?

When the child is writing a story, their role is that of ‘The Writer’ and so they must keep control of their writing, which includes choice about what and how they write.

You are ‘The Editor’. You are often the expert about spelling and grammar and can help them with proofreading their work.

Another important role as ‘The Editor’ is to motivate them by offering writing suggestions, but you do not decide or pressure them about what they will write so please remember to suggest possible plots and scenarios and characters in a way that they do not feel pressured to accept them.

Only make suggestions relevant to them. People write more expressively and in more detail about what they know about. They can base adventure stories and fantasy on scenarios and with people they know well. The best stories are based around skills the writer has, such as riding a scooter or skate board or bike, and they are set in areas they know well, and with characters based on people they know. For example, my students have written about creatures from outer space but set the landing of their space-craft in their town. They have written about a young spy based on themselves and friends, and  using events happening at school or at their home. They have written about fairies living in a piece of wilderness, or by a stream, or in a garden they know well. They went snorkeling and then wrote about a fantasy world under the sea.

In order that  I don’t take over the writing I pause in between suggestions, to give them a moment to think whether that idea would work for them. After offering two or three suggestions I often pause again to discuss why they don’t like those ideas, or do like them but have reservations about them. Then I can make suggestions closer to what they want. If they don’t like any of my ideas I stop discussing writing until the next suitable coaching time. Remember…no pressure!

When ideas start flowing write them down immediately. Flow charts and mind-maps as well as lists are useful ways to get ideas down onto paper. If your child is not at all keen to write, you can write story ideas down as they tell you. The time spent thinking up ideas and then ordering these ideas is valuable and often underestimated. Successful adult writers often spend a lot of time thinking before they write.

A simple way I often use with writers is to have a piece of paper folded width-ways into three parts which you head up with “Beginning, Middle, and End”, then ask them to write down very briefly what happens. I always lean heavily on the question starters ‘what, where, when, who, why, and how.

Under the Beginning you can ask them to describe where and when the story takes place and who is in it. For example, Where are you? When is this happening? What can we see? What can we hear? Who is with you? How old are you in the story? The beginning is where the writer introduces their character(s), describes the background the character(s) are moving around in, and may even jump right into the middle of the difficulties those in the story are experiencing What is happening? What do you do?

The main action happens in the Middle so “What happens next? What terrible or exciting, or weird thing happens now? What trouble do they get into? How do they solve that problem? are good questions to ask. This is where the hero(es) solve a crime or mystery or have an adventure or series of adventures where they overcome difficulties.

Endings can be difficult if not thought through in the planning stages, and a satisfying ending is very important when you are telling a story. How can we end it? and What will happen at the end? are useful questions to ask.

The good thing is that this planning process can be on-going, and indeed the first ideas can be discounted and radically changed at times as the characters develop and change and as twists and turns of the plot reveal themselves. Get the writer to quickly jot down new ideas on their planning page as they occur.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails.

Warmly,

Anne

 

 

coaching, homework, reading and writing skills

Writing: first understand why they dislike writing, then negotiate.


a reformed reluctant writer
         A keen proud writer 

Writing fluently will remain an important skill our children need to master.

Your child might not be very interested in writing because they have so many other interesting things they would rather do. Many children are much more interested in doing something physical than sitting down to write. Especially when your child finds writing difficult it will come a definite last in the list of important and fun things they want to do that day.

There are a few quite simple things you can do to encourage them to write.The first thing to do is capture their attention and their interest so that they are willing to write with you. Unless you sell them writing in a way that captures their interest they will not be willing to attempt this task they dislike and they will not work willingly with you. You cannot force them to write ever because when a person is not willing to do something, they usually do it very sloppily and hurriedly. Instead first understand exactly what they don’t like about writing.

Listen closely to deeply understand.

The most successful and respectful way to help someone become a writer, and an excellent way to capture their interest, is to listen closely to them to deeply understand how they are thinking and feeling about writing before you ever offer solutions. Take as much time as necessary to deeply understand your child’s position. This might take several talks with them. Remember to never judge what they are saying by minimizing it, mentioning incidents where it was worse for you or their sister, or believing that they are exaggerating or making excuses. Instead just feel deeply interested in what they are saying and keep asking questions that encourage them to open up to you, and help you understand their position even more. As they talk you might notice that you want to offer the ‘helpful’ solutions that pop into your head. they might not be the right solutions for your child, or perhaps not the right solutions to offer just yet. In fact your child will feel that you have stopped listening to them and that you are trying to just fix the problem quickly, as perhaps you often have in the past, if you offer them solutions as they are explaining their dislike of writing. This time do it differently and take lots of time to understand their position.

Problem-solve with them, not for them, by TENTATIVELY suggesting solutions.

When you are both satisfied that you have fully understood their thoughts and feelings around writing, other quite exciting and useful solutions often pop up, many of them quite different from what you would have first suggested. Feel free to suggest them tentatively as possible solutions, watching your child for their reactions. You might have decided that it is non-negotiable that they will be writing regularly at home, and your child most probably has realised that themselves. However when, where, and how that happens, and what they write about are all negotiable.

Possible solutions I often offer students when we will be writing  include:

  • You will only write about what you want to write about and my job as your editor is to help you discover what that is.
  • I will only let you write for 10 minutes.
  • Don’t worry about the spelling. Just write your ideas down. We will sort the spelling later.
  • Don’t worry about your handwriting. Good writing is all about the ideas not how tidy your writing looks.
  • Let’s get the writing over and done with first then do something that you like more.
  • I will share-write with you too if you like. I think that would be fun! We could write a story together.

Here are some more ideas on ways to respectfully discuss writing with your child.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post and share this post on Facebook with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

 

 

 

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coaching, reading and writing skills

Handwriting – How your child can write more easily


The days of boring old handwriting drills are gone.

In the place of drills teachers give a series of short lessons on how to hold the pencil and correctly write letters and numbers, and then they correct students’ hand-grip and writing direction incidentally as they walk around the room. How your child holds their pencil and form their letters is still taught, but often not as consistently as in the past with the boring old drills, and so many children may not  practice  the correct grip enough to master it.

hand writing - wrong hand gripThis has meant that many children and adults now find handwriting much more difficult and tiring because they are holding their pencil incorrectly and are writing some letters and numbers using the wrong direction. Watch children and young adults as they write, and notice their hand-grip. Many are gripping pens with more than the first finger and thumb. Sometimes they even use their whole fist as a toddler does. As a result their whole hand moves as they write letters instead of just their fingers.

Many also begin to form letters from the bottom up instead of from the top down, and clock-wise instead of anti clockwise. This also slows their writing down, and when they are younger, it makes it more difficult to remember how to form some letters. For example they often confuse the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ because they form those letters in similar ways. The correct way to form the letter ‘b’ is to write the ‘b’ from the top down forming the stem, then up half-way and clockwise around forming the base (down, up, and around), whereas with the ‘d’ you begin half-way between the line and continue anti-clockwise to form the round base, then move up and down (around, up, and down).

Why do we need to help our child hold their pen or pencil correctly?

The pencil grip, or the way they hold a pen or pencil, will either help or hinder them when they write, both now and as adults. With the growth of i-pads and other devices in schools and workplaces, it might seem that being able to skillfully write by hand might become a thing of the past. Perhaps so. I hope not. There is research to show that handwriting facts helps us learn and remember
and will continue to be an important skill even as our children use more technology to communicate.

handwriting gripWhen your child holds the pen correctly they write faster and so much more easily!

The correct pencil-grip makes writing easier and faster. When we use the correct pencil grip we can write for longer periods of time smoothly and easily. If your child has difficulty holding the pencil correctly you can usually buy a pencil grip in stationary shops that slides onto the pencil and gives your child a larger surface to grip onto.

Follow these instructions for the correct hand grip:

teach your child how to hand writeThe hand uses the thumb and 1st finger to hold firmly but not too tightly onto opposite sides of the pencil. Then the 2nd finger bends under the pencil to form a support so that the pen can sit balanced lightly and securely on that finger. This classical grip allows your fingers to move freely when writing instead of the whole hand. Instead, your hand is still and resting lightly on the paper as your fingers move the pencil around to write all or most of a word. Your hand only moves when it slides along between words or parts of words to help the fingers write freely.

 

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on Twitter and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

 

coaching, homework, reading and writing skills, Uncategorized

What if your child can’t read or write well….is that it?


How to Coach Your Children to be Excellent Students m
How to Coach Your Children to be Excellent Students

A few weeks ago I met a young man in his twenties who in the course of our conversation disclosed what exactly his mother had done to help him at home  when he was young and having great difficulty learning to read and write. What she did gave him the opportunity to fulfill more of his potential than is usual for poor readers and writers. It enabled him to complete tertiary study, and find interesting work that required good reading and writing skills as well as problem-solving skills, flexibility, lateral thinking, and communication skills. He mentioned that he still found reading aloud difficult when one of his bosses was listening, because it made him anxious, but otherwise not; and that he doesn’t have any difficulty understanding the deeper meanings of text now, or writing reports.

I was very impressed by this young man. He was currently working with teens who could not read, write, or do maths well; and he showed great empathy and concern when talking about them. I also watched him engage with the young men around us, and he was warm and fun. He is exactly the sort of person you would want working with your young teen if they needed mentoring, and he was involved in many community activities, and obviously a thoughtful and hard-working man. The sort of person many employers yearn for. His mother must be so proud of him!

As this young man’s mother must have done, I encourage you to continue working with your child at home no matter what others think, what the school is currently doing to help them, and even whether your child wants you to help them. This year I have worked with several students who took a long time to realise that if they applied a little effort, and regularly practised the strategies I coached them in at home with their parents, they could master skills they had thought impossible to learn. For quite some time these particular students were not keen to work with me, and for much of the time I coached them, they were certainly not grateful or willing to learn with their parents.

writing a book
One of my excellent writers

However, we never gave up, and the penny eventually dropped for them. They realised that we were not going to stop working with them and that we continued to believe in their ability to learn, no matter how poorly they behaved. At about the same time they began to notice that they were actually enjoying doing some of the reading, writing, or maths, because the work had become easier and so much more interesting. As they began to comply with their parents and complete regular coaching sessions at home, the parents, the child, and I all noticed a rapid improvement in how fast they learned new skills. They also became less anxious, demanding, controlling and reluctant when their parents and I coached them. Instead they became keen, confident, and self-motivated students who worked willingly and with deep concentration to master skills they now wanted as badly as we had wanted those skills for them. They became a pleasure to coach!

Every parent wants their child to achieve to the limits of their ability…wherever that is. That limit has to be found, then pushed, to see if it is actually the limit to what can be achieved. I have found that we often set limits much too low for ourselves and for our children, and that the actual limits can be much further away than first seems possible.

The young man I had met a few weeks ago was lucky enough to have a mother who believed that although he had Dyslexia, which made reading and writing more difficult for him, he still could and would learn to read and write well.  She didn’t stop at just believing in his abilities though. She worked regularly and persistently with him as long as he needed her too. She read aloud to him for as long as he needed her to so that he would have the opportunity to understand and use all the ideas and vocabulary his peers were currently learning, and she helped him develop his reading and writing skills until he could read and write easily for himself.

Plan to succeed.  As that wonderful mother of that out-standing young man did, and all the other persistent parents do whom I have worked with and continue to work with right now, create ambitious and exciting goals for your child, then keep them in sight, and each week take small steps towards those  goals. Each step counts.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on

Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

 

coaching, homework, reading and writing skills

Help your child develop phonics skills and they learn to read for pleasure


reading

Why reading for pleasure helps your child

There is good evidence to suggest that young people who read for pleasure daily perform better in reading skills tests than those who never do. However, a recent survey carried out by the National Literacy Trust has indicated a decline in the amount of time children and young people spend reading for pleasure. Here are some ways to help your child read more if they are reluctant to read.

What are the benefits of reading for pleasure?

  • Pupils who say they enjoy reading for pleasure are more likely to score well on reading assessments compared to pupils who said they enjoyed reading less
  • There is some evidence to show that reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status
  • It can have a positive impact on pupils’ emotional and social behaviour
  • It can have a positive impact on text, comprehension, and grammar.

How do you improve a child’s independent reading?

  • An important factor in developing reading for pleasure is providing choice – choice and interest are highly related
  • Parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading; children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued
  • Reading for pleasure is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families.

First learn how reading works so you can read easily.

High quality phonics teaching gives children a solid base on which to build as they progress through school. Children who master the mechanics of reading are well-placed to go on to develop a love of reading. The English Education Department is pushing phonics in schools and has established a phonics screening check for all students after year one. Here is further information about why they are spending so much money and energy on doing this.

Schools in New Zealand have also begun to teach phonics again the last few years. As a parent or grandparent you can make a big difference in a child’s ability to read easily and also to spell easily by making sure they understand the sound-letter relationships in words and teaching them phonics.

Make it fun and they learn faster. Play games with them so they they stay focused and interested, then they learn faster. For example you can play the game I invented with a six year old boy many years ago now. When you play The Weird Word Game  they will learn while they are competing with you.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

 

Warmly,

Anne

coaching, homework, reading and writing skills, Uncategorized

Reading – how to help your child read well and with pleasure


helping your child read

Check out this blog by a mother of 9 titled  ‘raising children is not a default chore is inspiring. As parents living in a society with many pressures brought to bear on us to be so much more than good parents, we need all the inspiration we can gather to stay focused on remembering what is really important in our lives, and to place that first. You can do this even while you are working outside the home, have little money, have many other responsibilities You just have to plan a little smarter.Write to me if you’d like to share your difficulties and triumphs. I’m there for you.

I encourage you to persevere every possible day to support your children to grow their knowledge and skills. I specifically talk about developing educational skills in my posts but if you look a little more deeply, I’m also talking about developing their emotional/social skills and although I’m not specifically targeting these areas, I encourage you to develop your children’s spirituality and physical skills as well. Strengths in all areas help them develop into strong and loving humans, and today more than ever we certainly need more of those qualities in people around us.

In the last post on reading I discussed how reading is still an important skill in your child’s future life as an adult as well as for their success at school I also suggested ways to work with their reluctance to read.

As  responsible parents we make sure that our child reads the books sent home from school. Perhaps they drone on, reading all the words more or less correctly, but they may find the whole reading process boring…and maybe you find it boring as well. And if it is boring, they will switch off and read automatically, and not really understand and remember the story the next day.

We can so easily make reading practice  something that is compulsory and important, but not fun. If something is not interesting in some way, we do not remember it later, or value it, so why should our children? Check out this post for  more information on how our children can learn and remember more easily.

Today I want to talk about the power of share-reading with your child. Share-reading is when you each take turns reading part or all of a sentence, a paragraph, or a page out loud. I suggest that you read little and swop turns often, and then your child will stay fully engaged, because soon it will be their turn. They will also be more likely to be interested in what they are reading if you are very interested, and if you also discuss it with them.

 Share- reading is fun!

You not only take your turn to read with enthusiasm and understanding, you also discuss difficult word meanings, what is happening in the story, and ideas that pop up because of the story.

  • Age does not matter. Teens can also enjoy share-reading. Share-read a book they want to read but that is a little difficult for them to read and understand.
    When it is their turn use Pause, Prompt, Praise.

    • Pause. Sit back and let your child attempt to the phonics rules and the meaning of the sentence to read unknown words. You can count up to 5 elephants (approx 5 seconds) before giving them a prompt.
    • Prompt them. Remind them to read what is there, or read the sounds from the beginning to the end of the word. Next ask them for a word that makes sense in the sentence and with the sounds they have just read.
    • Praise them. Tell them what they did right. My favourite one is to say enthusiastically, “Good reading.”

When it is your turn to read – read slowly, enthusiastically, and with expression. Move your finger along the line as you are reading if your child finds it difficult to track words, and make sure your child’s eye is following the words as you read them, or don’t use your finger if they don’t need that support and track words well. Stop reading unexpectedly (in the middle of a sentence for instance), expecting your child to immediately pick up from where you were.

Reading is to be enjoyed! It is not how many pages you read, it is how much you enjoy and understand the story. Spend time discussing what is happening in the story with your child so they read more thoughtfully, and actually understand all the hard words they are reading.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on

Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

coaching, learning and remembering, reading and writing skills

Reading – it’s important: Help your child read more often.


helping my child read

Is your child reading regularly?

If not, what is stopping them from choosing to read?

You might think they don’t read often because of all the electronic gadgets they use, or that they prefer sports, or that they have never been good at reading….But they are still not enough reasons to not read. Do you agree? You might believe as I do that reading regularly – anything that is well-written which includes comics and magazines – will help your child do better in life as well as at school. Definitely they learn a lot about other people and other places when they read regularly. Let us look at what you can do to change what stops them from reading.

They prefer using electronic gadgets. Limit their use! Fads in areas such as computer games, apps, and social media sites, come and go, as you may have noticed, with dismaying speed. Fluent reading is still a core skill  that enriches our lives and makes them easier, and will probably continue to be a crucial skill for your children as adults. The rule ‘ work first play after’ is important for us as adults when we want to do well in life. Learning is your child’s work. Teach them to ‘read first play later’. I have seen many reluctant readers  eventually prefer to read because they see reading as play. You as their parent just have to decide that reading is what you want them to do Then you can negotiate with them, and make sure they do read as agreed. I also suggest that you regularly show interest in the story they are currently reading (I often read it ahead of them).

They prefer to be active rather than sit and read. Many of us do. However, interests and work they choose to pursue in life probably requires a competent level of reading and writing skill. Don’t you agree? I believe from my experiences as a coach that children who don’t seem to be able to sit still can be taught that skill. You might notice that your child is quite still when focused on something they find totally fascinating. I fully expect that they will learn to sit still and concentrate on their learning too. I keep their work interesting and challenging and exciting, and I use versions of games that monitor and reward their concentration such as the first up to five game. I no longer believe that a child can’t learn to sit still  and concentrate on their work for a period of time.

Reading has always been difficult for them. Many children are reluctant to read, often because they found it hard to learn that skill when they were younger. Many children didn’t have enough practise at developing strong phonics skills, which is how letters relate to particular sounds, so they often had difficulty learning to both read and spell.  It is very important that your child masters the letter-sound relationships (or phonics) when reading and spelling unknown words. A fun and fast way to teach your child reading and spelling skills is using  The Weird Word Game. 

My next post on reading will give you some easy ways to help your child read, and enjoy reading.

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible so hello fellow Twitter user! Don’t forget to Tweet this post if you like it, or follow me on Twitter if you find me interesting. Keep spreading my ideas and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families so they too can develop the skills to create exceptional students in their families.

Warmly,

Anne