May 8

3. Writing with a Fifth Grader

Any advice on bringing more writing to my fifth grader? We don’t write very much, and he cries when we do. He’s 11 so I don’t want to keep waiting for him to get older and stronger.

First, make sure there are no impediments. Work through the list in question two and address any weaknesses you find.

In the meantime, teach your child how to write (compose) by following the Four Steps to Teaching Composition found in The Roadmap to Literacy pp. 320–323. They are as follows:

  • Modeled Writing: The teacher (parent) demonstrates how to write a composition, and the student watches.
  • Shared Writing: The teacher/parent and the student write the composition together.
  • Guided Writing: The student writes by him/herself but with the assistance of the teacher/parent as needed.
  • Independent Writing: The student writes without any assistance.

Many students cry because the writing assignment is so overwhelming, and they do not know where to start. Explicit instruction on how to write a composition can take the pressure off. For a full description of how to do so, consult The Roadmap to Literacy Chapter 3.14 Composition. It describes each step in detail (including a scripted lesson on page 321) and provides information on how to schedule composition in your main lesson classes.

Note: If there is a weakness that requires remediation, provide accommodations or modifications as appropriate. Students at this age should be composing most of their main lesson book entries themselves. That is a key aspect of Waldorf education.


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