13. Catching up on Academics

Question Thirteen: I am curious how to approach language arts remediation work with a 6th grader who is just beginning to take off with their reading abilities. Grammar and spelling were only lightly worked with in earlier grades due to the delayed reading and now we are grades past where these studies would have been introduced and worked with. I’m wondering how to approach this seemingly overwhelming backlog of studies. What would a developmentally appropriate pace look like for starting language arts (spelling, grammar) with an older student? I can see how some areas might move along at a faster pace with an older child, but how and where can the language arts lessons be consolidated and how to tie them in with the current year’s curriculum? What might this look like? And, are there any resources out there for inspiration in planning remedial language arts lessons for an older student?

(I actually purchased Roadmap to Literacy last summer, but have not had much time to spend with it. And was feeling overwhelmed initially by the scope of it and wondering how to translate it into lessons for a 6th grader.)

Thank you for your purchase of Roadmap!

Without knowing more about the reading abilities of the student, this is a hard question to answer. If I understand you correctly, the student is years behind in reading, spelling, and grammar, yet you want to attempt to do the Waldorf sixth-grade curriculum. The approach you would need to take would depend on the level of the student’s reading, spelling, and grammar skills. The Roadmap to Literacy has information that could help you assess the reading and spelling skills of your student, but it is geared for teaching grades 1–3, not remediating older students per se. You could use it to design the reading and spelling aspects of your curriculum, depending on your student’s level. It would be an excellent resource. However, you would need to spend time with it. (My co-author and I are planning to do a podcast with Jean to show everyone how to use the book. It is overwhelming to have a 600-page book, but it is much easier once you understand the layout and how to use it.)

However, grammar would require a slightly different approach as the presentation in The Roadmap to Literacy is geared towards much younger students. Furthermore, The Roadmap to Literacy does not have the information you would need for designing a sixth-grade language arts curriculum as it covers language arts in grades 1–3. (I am currently writing the sequel to The Roadmap to Literacy. It has the language arts curriculum for Waldorf grades 4–8. I plan to have the sequel on the market some time in 2020.)

I would recommend starting with an academic assessment and then hiring someone to help you design a curriculum to help your student catch up. The weakness in language arts skills impact almost every aspect of the curriculum.  It will be necessary to modify the curriculum to bring it in line with the student’s skills in addition to building in additional skills practice to bring the language arts skills up to grade level.

Neither my co-author, Janet Langley, nor I are aware of any resources for inspiration in lesson planning for remedial language arts lessons for older students. Janet adds the following advice: “When faced with this scenario, each teacher has to come up with his/her own remediation depending on the needs of the student. For sure the parent here will need to do a lot of oral presentations and the student a lot of artistic assignments about those presentations until the student’s literacy skills catch up to the student’s grade level.”

Good luck.

About the Author Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl