As I prepared to begin school this year I was looking through my Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome book to see if there were any other ideas I could use along the regular reading curriculum we are using. Gess' reading skills are going quite well so I was reading the chapter on writing and spelling. While I am using Handwriting Without Tears to teach Gess how to write her letters, I am not currently doing anything to teach her about creative writing. Other than answering questions and beginning to write dictated sentences, Gess doesn't use her writing skills very much. Well the book on Teaching Reading had a great idea that I am implementing this year.
I guess most public schools start creative writing journals in Kindergarten. During that year and much of first grade the journal consists only of pictures. Next they move on to open sentences. The example she gave in the book was the sentence "I had fun this weekend." They would copy the sentence and then draw a picture about what they did that weekend. This is such a great idea for Gess because she struggles being able to answer questions or talk about what she did over the course of the weekend or even one day. Now she will not only learn to write, but this will teach her to communicate about what she has experienced or learned. This will enhance much of what we are doing in her speech therapy sessions like answering WH questions, etc.
We have decided to write about something she learned each day in school. To do this I found a Primary Journal by Mead because it not only has lines for the writing but a space at the top to draw a picture as well.
Each day at the end of school I asked Gess "What did you learn in school today?" She usually answers "God." Well, that is true as we usually have a Bible story, but she apparently does not understand the question. So I will ask her what did you do in math, or science but she still does not seem to understand what I am asking her. So for now, I am guiding her to answer the question by showing her the physical material such as the workbook or page she did in that subject. I try to focus on different subjects each day because I want her to understand that "school" means all those things and not confuse her by thinking that school only means reading, or math, etc.
So in her journal I write the Sentence "Today in school I learned about..." and I have her write one word to finish the sentence and then draw the picture. This day she learned about Joseph in our bible story.
The next day we learned about "hundreds" in math, "manners" in health and today it was "rain" in science. I think this will be a great way to help my daughter learn to answer the question "What did you do today?" Each year we will expand how much she writes and how much information she gives. I think this is a simple way to start.
In the book Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome it gives several ideas to use if your child's writing skills are lacking such as drawing pictures, using a keyboard or fill in the blank journals where they can either write or circle the answer that goes in the blank. I am sure there are many creative ways to teach our children to write creatively, this is one idea that we will be trying this year.