(This post is a longy and covers several issues in homeschooling such as teaching/guiding students and meeting their individual needs. I hope it is helpful.)
Yesterday, I had the middle four (ages 6, 7, 9, and 10) write their very first “big” writing assignment. We are following a simple portfolio checklist that I found online www.pmsd.org. (Here is the link to the portfolio checklist which I placed on TJ: http://www.talibiddeenjr.com/homeschoolinghelps_bythegrade_2_la_writing.htm) for second grade for our basis of writing assignments. They wrote a “how to” paper describing how to make a sandwich. I haven’t started going over the writing process or anything with them yet, I haven’t talked about paragraphs with the younger two, I just gave them the topic and let them have a go at it.
After they made their first draft, I sat with each of them and we went through to see if their steps made sense (I asked them, ‘would someone be able to make a sandwich based upon their instructions?’ i. e. Did they leave out key steps?) A few of them had to make some revisions and I helped lead a few of them to a step or two that was missing.
Next, we reviewed their spelling. As they were writing, they would ask me the correct spelling. If it was a word with phonograms that we had studied and I believed they should have known how to spell, I prompted them to sound out the word, asked them what letters could make that sound. If it was a sight word or word with phonograms that they hadn’t studied or were probably rusty on, I gave them the correct spelling. Since I was working with all of them at the same time, plus my older kids, I sometimes just had them sound out the word on their own and then we went over it after their first draft was complete. I think I prefer just giving them the correct spelling as opposed to them sounding the word out and spelling it wrong. I guess my thinking is that that incorrect spelling will make an impression on them and stick? Allahu ilm.
After that, was the fun part. The younger two, typed up their works on the computer and they loved it! Their big sis had already taught them how to make capital letters, masha Allah and they knew how to backspace and space. They sometimes put too much spacing in between words, but they did a good job, masha Allah. We went over giving their work a title, and how titles should be written (centered, capitalized). We went over giving a concluding sentence, a sentence to wrap it all up. They added decorative borders and played around with font size. Then, they typed their names on it and the date and their age and I printed it out. I gave each of them a folder to put their work in (like big sis, she keeps every piece of writing we do for school in a binder). They were so tickled with the writing folder and kept looking at their masterpieces throughout the day. So masha Allah, their first composition attempts went well. I think it helped by giving them a subject that was real to them; something they knew about. (plus I have noticed that how to’s seem to be more fun for my bigger daughter). Insha Allah, our next writing assignment will be a compare/contrast assignment. I haven’t really made up a schedule (will we have one assignment per week or what); this was kind of impromptu, I had just wanted to get them started writing and knew that how tos were generally easy.
You can see their finished products at the TJ gallery.
The older two are still working on theirs. One has completed his draft, but hasn’t typed it up yet, the other, the oldest of those four, did have more trouble. Although very intelligent, masha Allah (he’s especially mechanically inclined) he just can’t sit still for very long. Eventually he did give it a good effort (for him) and I was pleased with that. However, as he doesn’t sit for classes as much as the younger ones, he is behind them in reading and writing and thus it was more of a struggle for him. A lot of words, though sounded out, (and I give him effort for that), were misspelled more than the younger ones. For him, I see that we need to do a lot of remedial phonics work. I think one mistake that I have made was to group them all together for the sake of time. They do Arabic and phonics all together. But as most days he is somewhere else in the house playing, he misses a lot of classes. So although it will take more work/time on my part, I am hoping to give them their own learning sessions, which may mean that we are doing school in the evening. It doesn’t fit into my nice schedule (that we were actually following before Eid), but that’s the beauty of homeschooling. You can more easily make adjustments for individual children and their needs than could be made in a public school setting.
On another note, with my oldest son, I could explain synonyms and word choice a lot better with him. I had a list of signal or introductory words for this type of writing and he chose different ones from the list to vary his writing. He dictated the paragraph to me and I wrote it and then he typed it up and he enjoyed that, so masha Allah, to see him interested in something was a blessing. Even though he is behind, I hope with remedial work, patience, and consistency, he will be a fluent reader and write in the near future, insha Allah.