Here to Help Learning Review

“Mom, what do you do at  your blogger meeting?”  asked my oldest son.

“Well, we get together and talk about blogging things and we do writing prompts,” I replied.

“What?!  You get together and write???  Why would anybody choose to get together and write?  It sounds horrible!” he insisted.

This might give you a glimpse of the stark difference between my view of writing and his view of it.  The other day, I wrote about my journey of homeschooling a struggling writer, and I wanted to elaborate just a bit on the new writing program we have found and are really enjoying.

Do you have a struggling writer? Looking for help?

Do you have a struggling writer? Looking for help?

What’s so funny is that while I love to write, I struggle to teach writing.  When I write, there is no rhyme or reason.  I just pour out my thoughts as naturally as if I were journaling, but children need more concrete instruction to get them going…especially children who dislike writing.  I’ve learned that there is a lot of patience needed in teaching writing, and I believe that you can over-write.  Some writing programs are just far too exhausting. That’s why we are loving Here to Help Learning.  Here are a few other reasons:

1.  Bite-sized assignments.  I love that Here to Help Learning breaks down the tasks into truly bite-sized pieces.  It’s so much less overwhelming than looking at a really big chunk of writing work.  It’s not intimidating for reluctant writers, because every assignment is doable.

2.  It’s fun!  Each lesson comes with a video.  The videos are engaging, visually stimulating, and fun!  Also, the Warm Up writing assignment usually includes a really funny picture that gets my boys tickled.

This is Mrs. Mora from Here to Help Learning. She's your guide through the exciting world of writing...and no, exciting wasn't a typo! It's true!

This is Mrs. Mora from Here to Help Learning. She’s your guide through the exciting world of writing…and no, exciting wasn’t a typo! It’s true!

3.  Excellent instruction.  The instruction is very clear and easy.  Mrs. Mora makes everything seem so simple!  The program is so well organized that the kids don’t even realize how the small assignments add up until they’ve written a whole paragraph!  After their first completed writing assignment, my boys had a solid idea of the writing process, and they quickly remembered the motions to each step.

4.  Fosters Independence.  One of the big goals at the Wood house this year was to begin working toward independence.  I wanted my boys to start working more on their own instead of with me holding their hand all the time.  This program has really helped us do just that.  My boys work much more independently this year with their writing.  After all, writing is easy with Mrs. Mora’s help!

5.  Well organized.  As the facilitator, I’ve really enjoyed how easy this program is for me.  With very little preparation, I can have a great writing lesson ready in just a couple of minutes.  For this busy mom of four, that is absolutely necessary and priceless!

6.  It’s positive.  Mrs. Mora does an excellent job at making sure that the learning environment remains positive even during things like peer review, which can get sticky.  This program is Christian based so it’s no surprise that there’s an emphasis on things like positivity, how to effectively critique someone else’s work, and appropriate writing topics.

7.  It’s rewarding.  Not only is it rewarding for my kids to have finished a piece of writing that they can be proud of, but Here to Help Learning also includes an incentive program that really keeps the kids on their toes.

The Here to Help Writing Set comes with a teacher's manual, a student workbook, and 6 DVDs. It's a great deal!

The Here to Help Writing Set comes with a teacher’s manual, a student workbook, and 6 DVDs. It’s a great deal!

I would most definitely suggest Here to Help Learning to my fellow homeschool moms.  It’s been a big boost for us in writing, and I’m thrilled that we found it!  To check it out for yourself, click on the link below.

Here to Help Learning

Pencils Up!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this program in exchange for my honest review.  All the thoughts and opinions shared are my own.  The links provided are affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting this site. 

Help for the Homeschool Mom of Struggling Writers

Help for the Homeschool Mom of a Struggling Writer

I love words.  I love to write.  I can feel the words flowing from my fingertips constantly, and when they aren’t actually flowing through my fingertips, I’m writing blog posts and books in my mind.  That’s how much I love words and putting words together to communicate.  And that’s why it’s been so hard for me to be mom to a struggling writer.

My sweet Isaac has never enjoyed writing.  Way back in kindergarten, he decided he didn’t like it.  And as much as I tried to explain how wonderful writing was, he just hated it.   So, a couple of years ago, I decided to stop fighting it, and start thinking outside the box.  So I decided to observe him to figure out the root of the problem.

The first thing I noticed was that it took Isaac a long time to write anything.  It seemed that he pressed the pencil a little bit too hard, and it was more labor-intensive for him to write than it should have been.  He hated turning his pencil over to erase, so many times, he just wouldn’t, and he made random scratch marks all over his paper, I think out of frustration.

I also noticed that he struggled to start his writing assignments.  A blank page was daunting to him, and the beginning of a writing project was the worst day of his life, closely followed by every other day of a writing project.  I knew that I wanted to change this, but how?

The first thing I did was I addressed the physical part of writing.  I did some research and I found something called dysgraphia.  This is a learning disability closely related to dyslexia where the child struggles with the actual act of writing.  The symptoms seemed to match pretty well, so I looked into getting him some therapy.  We went to a physical therapist in our area and while he wasn’t diagnosed with dysgraphia, we did find out that he had some pretty severe delayed fine motor skills which were hindering his writing.  So, we began to work on it under the direction of the therapist.

Every day, during our read aloud time, I would have Isaac do his “fine motor” work.  He would do simple tasks like transferring marbles from one place to another with chopsticks or digging beads out of therapy putty.  Slowly, over time, I began to notice a big difference in his writing.  He wasn’t struggling or laboring over it like he once did.  Addressing fine motor issues was a huge step in writing success for Isaac.

Next, I wanted to address the blank page phobia.  I knew that Isaac thrived when he talked to me.  He could tell me lengthy stories and describe vivid scenarios in detail.  So, I decided to start working with him verbally.  I decided to be his recorder.  I would introduce a topic, we would discuss it, and I would collect his thoughts on paper.

Then, we would take that paper, and we would organize his thoughts using a graphic organizer.  After that, he would use the graphic organizer to verbalize his paragraph or story to me.  He would stand next to me at the computer and say what he wanted me to type.  I would type it on the computer in large print, double spaced, exactly like he said it.  NO EDITING MOMS!  This is critical.  If you want learning to happen, you have to write it without capitals, periods, misspell a word or two…make mistakes so that he can practice finding them.

I would print that out, and he would edit and revise it.  Then, I would type it out again with the revisions.  And finally, I would have him copy it in his handwriting.  This process would take anywhere from two weeks to a month, depending on the project.  It made all the difference in the world!  Soon, he began to really enjoy writing, because it was something that he could see slowly, but surely, coming together.  And when he was done, he really had a piece to be proud of, one that he could take complete ownership of.  It was a win-win.

The past two years, we have seen tremendous growth in Isaac’s writing.  And when I think about it, I realize that we could have just gotten stuck in that spot.  I could have left him behind, and let him continually struggle.  But instead, we were able to find a solution that improved everyone’s experience.  This year, I decided to try a more formal method of writing instruction using Here to Help Learning’s writing curriculum.  We are loving it so far!  In fact, my next post will be a review of Here to Help Learning’s program.  I hope you’ll check it out.

Most of all, if your child is struggling in an area, it’s always a good idea to stop and think outside the box.  Don’t get stuck in the box of how everyone else does something.  First, look at actual physical delays.  Is there a fine motor delay?  Are you dealing with dysgraphia or another learning disability?  Next, does your child just need a little more assistance from you?  Remember, it won’t last forever.  Independence will come.  But your help may be just what they need to get going.  And if you can’t offer them that assistance, can you try an outside-the-box writing curriculum like Here to Help Learning?

I’m so thankful that we have found a groove that helped my son so much.  This year, he’s writing more independently, and it’s a joy for us both!