Welcome to the Club!
We all have learning gaps and your student will too.
I'm sorry if that was a shock, but I'm sure if you stop to think about it you'll realize it is true. We are - none of us - perfect!
All students, whether they are in homeschool, public school, or elite private school have gaps. The important thing is to know which gaps will matter and which are less vital.
When do gaps matter?
Certain subjects like math and language arts have components that build on each other. Anytime one level of learning builds directly on the last the gaps are vital to fill. Other subjects like social studies and history are less pressing because as the topic changes so do the content; you can learn about one period without knowing too much about the previous period.
What about Language Arts gaps?
Oftentimes, students resist writing because they feel inadequate in other LA skills areas. They may lack confidence in handwriting, spelling, grammar, sentence construction, or higher-level argument-building skills. It is important to go back and test to see if students are struggling in earlier skills to give them the ease to quickly and easily manage those components of the writing so they can move on to newer and more complex pieces.
How to get started?
Start by talking to your student. Perhaps they can tell you what is difficult for them. Many students, however just find it emotional and they are unable to put the cause of their angst into words. If this is the case – and even if they think they know – it’s your job to be the detective. Do some watching. This is the progression of learning for writing ease:
handwriting – they need speed and strength
spelling – do they nearly automatically spell most words
sentence abilities – are they able to create sentences that are clear? Are they able to
add descriptive words and add on to make longer sentences?
punctuation – do they use commas and end punctuation in their writing in the proper places
paragraph structure – are they able to create a paragraph that is all one topic, begins with a topic sentence, and proves a point
argument building – can they – in writing or orally- come up with reasons and proofs for their own ideas and then order them to make a coherent argument
As you move forward, remember that your student is likely very emotional about this. Most likely they feel lost, afraid of being behind, or not measuring up. Take it slow, and do not be afraid to stop the parts that are causing the frustration until you have prepared your student to succeed! Success will come when students are guided, supported, and become more confident.
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