Let’s face it, writing just isn’t one of those things that comes naturally for a lot of people. It usually takes learning the process and lots of practice. So what is a mom to do when her kiddo is very much a visual learner, maybe even struggling with a learning disability of some kind? I am by far no expert, but I want to share with you, what has worked for my kiddos time and time again. Being a visual learner myself, I developed this method for my own writing and when I had kids with the same struggles I adapted it to be more hands on for my active boys.
Think about what kind of assignments kids get on any given day. There are math problems which have set rules to follow and typically are given on one type of math so the kids can focus on learning that one part of math. There is history with reading assignments and answering comprehension questions. Science brings in lots of projects but typically are broken down into small steps and shown one at a time. Then you have writing. Come up with an idea and turn that idea into a written paper. Without directions kids can feel lost. I know I did when I was in school.
Writing can be very overwhelming for kids. There are so many choices with what to write, what order to put things in, grammar rules to follow, making sure the reader understanding what they are trying to get across in their paper and so on. All these things put together make the idea of even beginning a “simple” writing paper overwhelming for kid and adults. BUT there is a solution to this problem and that is the writing process. The writing process is the steps that we take that get us from an idea to a finished paper. For my very ADHD kids, having those clear-cut steps really helped them to be able to focus on the project by breaking it down into easily accomplished steps.
- Rough Draft
- Revised Draft
- Final Draft
These are all great steps but for me and my kids those steps just were not enough to help calm our anxiety over writing. I needed things to be broken down even farther. This is where my visual method comes in and saves the day. I am able to help break down these steps for my kids and get them on their way to a success in writing.
Step 1 – Brainstorming
Being a visual learner I needed more direction than just sit down and think of an idea, and so did my kids. So, I give my kids a general topic to brainstorm in. For example I might say that I want them to write about a favorite vacation we have taken. This helps them to narrow down what they have to think about and gets them on the path to coming up with an idea. Otherwise they think of so many things that they are just stuck on which to pick. To help the kids even farther I hand my kids a brainstorming web worksheet.
For each idea they have I give them a worksheet. They write the main idea they are thinking about in the center bubble. So, if we use the example of a favorite vacation and my kiddo thought of 3 different vacations, and wasn’t sure what to choose, I would give them 3 worksheets. If the vacations were to Maine, Florida and California they would write those states in the center bubble of each worksheet. Now this is where the visual part comes in. For each detail they think of about each vacation they would write those thoughts in a new bubble that is connected to the center. So for example, if we were talking about Maine. Maybe the kid thought about going blueberry picking. That would go in a bubble. Maybe they remembered walking on the beach, and eating lobster. Each of those would go in separate bubbles connected to the bubble titled Maine trip.
Now we have them add in the details. So going again for the Maine trip we now have the center bubble filled in with Maine and 3 bubbles connected to it each with a separate thing that happened on that trip. Now have you kid focus on one of those bubbles at a time. How about the walking on the beach bubble. I would ask my kiddo to think about that event. What did they like about walking on the beach? What did they not like about walking on the beach? Those details would be written down around the walking on the beach bubble, connected with a line to show which bubble those details belong to.
So what does all this mean? How does doing this help? The main bubble would be what they would use to help name their paper, the 3 bubbles connected to Maine would be the 3 body paragraphs of their paper, and the lines connecting to those smaller bubbles would be the details needed to be added to each of those paragraphs. If they worked on a couple of ideas like this, they are able to compare and see which one they have more details for. Typically, that would be the one they would choose to write their paper about. At this point I congratulate my kiddo on finishing the brainstorming step.
*Side Note – If your kiddo is hesitant about this or struggles with the actual act of writing, go ahead and fill out the worksheet for them as they dictate to you what to write. When my kids were really young, this is what I would do to help them learn the process without having all the writing to do on their own.
This worksheet just turned from a worksheet to a map. A map for what they need to include in their paper. For a visual learner this is key. It SHOWS them what they need to do. For ADHD kids, this gives them simple steps to take so this process of writing does not overwhelm them. Having that map in front of them really helps to get them focused. Now the kids are able to SEE their paper starting to take shape and they are able to feel confident in what they need to write about.
Intrigued? Interested in what the next steps would be or how I am able to make them pop for visual learners? Stay tuned for part two. In the mean time if you want to get your hands on one of these brainstorming webs and try them with your kids, I have a FREE printable you can sign up for below that gives you not only a brainstorming web but also some ideas to get your kids started with this process we call writing.