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Help for teens - literacy

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
My children have been mostly unschooled which has meant engaged kids who are lovely people.. however they are at an age where they are looking to go to college (like the end of high school, kids here in the UK go at 16). Nearly all home-schooled kids want to go at 16 and mine are no different.
Their literacy is not great though. Spelling is difficult, punctuation and grammar need some work and they need to learn eg. how to write an essay. Most books with this in are aimed at quite young children. Does anyone know any books, websites etc. that we can use to get thier literacy improving?
We have the writing strands programme which is great but we need to work on the other bits of writing which aren't covered in this.
Any advice?
TIA x
post #2 of 37
Do you want to address this at home or would you consider a tutor? I think that a tutor may be the quickest way to address the individual strengths and weaknesses.
If you'd rather buy materials Growing with Grammar may be good for grammar.
I don't know of anything age appropriate that would address the essay thing- hopefully someone else can chime in with a suggestion!
post #3 of 37
I am in the US, so do not know how it works in the UK. Do you have "community colleges" (like junior colleges). Many times they will have remedial coursework (here, that would mean something numbered 0-- instead of 1--, 2--, 3-- or 4-- for undergraduate work). Perhaps your older children could simply take a high school level writing class.

If they are below that level, I would really encourage an individual tutor. If they are motivated, while the course work may be boring and age-approprate they will go beyond it rapidly. I totally support unschooling, but I also believe that part of most people's unschooling is seeking out resources when they cannot provide the knowledge needed to progress in a certain area. I mean, science for a 6 year old is easy to do at home but if your child is trying to sequence a genome eventually they're going to have to go to a lab, kwim?

Good luck!
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hiring any kind of tutor is just not possible as I have no spare cash whatsoever. It would have to be something we can work through together or they could do independently.

In the UK, kids do exams at 16 then go on to college for about 2 years, do more exams then progress onto university.
No college will let under 16's go to do courses, and then when they do they assess their literacy and numeracy even if they have qualifications. I know they could get help at college then but I think if we can work on stuff beforehand it would make it easier for them and I don't wenat their confidence being knocked when they get to college and eg. their spelling and punctuation is appalling.
post #5 of 37
This book on punctuation is written for adults, so it might be more their style. I have read the children's versions and they were okay...

http://www.amazon.com/Eats-Shoots-Le.../dp/1592400876
post #6 of 37
You've asked about this before. Have you had any success in moving them forward?

Honestly, if no improvements have been made I think you're going to have to take action NOW. What I would do is contact your preferred sixth form college and find out what their entry requirements are (most will require a minimum number of GCSEs or equivalent). Then use the school/college's resources to assist your kids in achieving that level. They will be used to assisting students with literacy/numeracy problems and will be able to help them improve.

It may even be possible for them to attend school on a part-time basis to help improve their skills and as preparation for attending sixth form. I appreciate that as an unschooler sending your kids to school is probably the last thing you want to do but, as a PP said, part of unschooling is accepting when things are beyond your limits and seeking out the resources your child needs to succeed.

You could also contact the http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/index.html and http://www.vrh.org.uk/Page.aspx for info and advice on literacy. Your local council might also be able to offer info regarding projects to improve literacy.

You need to get your kids up to a level where they can achieve their potential. If you don't seek out the resources to enable them to do so then you're failing them and it's clear that you don't want to do that or you wouldn't be asking for help. You can do this and so can they. Good luck!
post #7 of 37
The purdue online writing lab has some resources. I've used mostly MLA stuff for my students, but I bet they have lots... sorry, posting on the fly, gotta log off... good luck!
post #8 of 37
I would go to the library and check out books on how to write. Some are geared towards adults. It is a start, and would give them a template on how to do things.

Are they planning to take a full course load in college?

One idea is to slowly get their feet wet, and take one course to start off with. A full course load with their current writing skills may be overwhelming.

My son is doing a geography course online (starts next week!) and I am thrilled that he will have to do some writing. I expect I will have to guide him, but that is fine.

Many colleges have free tutoring and peer helpers - which may be a way to get them help they need.
post #9 of 37
It seems like you've been posting similar concerns about your children's literacy for a few years now. What have you already tried, and how did it work out? Have you ever thought about sending them to school?
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivka5 View Post
It seems like you've been posting similar concerns about your children's literacy for a few years now. What have you already tried, and how did it work out? Have you ever thought about sending them to school?
School is not an option, they lead busy full happy lives and would not want to go.
Yes we have literacy struggles. I think the eldest 2 are dyslexic but can't get help till college. We have tried various things, programmes and books. Mostly they type on keyboard which they prefer to writing and use spell-check. They have each just completed a qualification that is an exam equivalent but with no exam and they typed the stuff up. They don't enjoy writing so I suppose it is a wait and see, carry on what we are doing and let college help them. Thanks for your replies
I was only asking if anyone had suggestions for books that may explain spelling rules/punctuation for older kids.
post #11 of 37
I haven't looked yet, but I bet there are certain books like that on Amazon that are designed for adults who have poor literacy skills, I will have a look and get back to you x
post #12 of 37
They have this OU book which you can look inside that may help, it also has some others in that scheme. They would need to be set essays to write in order to improve, does Writing Strands have this? Usborne have books but I don't know if they are to young for your girls, also this one They also have Dummies books for grammar Or maybe some GCSE English CGP books that have writing workbooks with answer keys so you can mark them, if they are not sure how to do the writing you can get one of their English revision guides if you needed more than that they also have an English study book I think the CGP books look great. Hope this helps x
post #13 of 37
"Eats Shoots and Leaves" is a fun book about grammar and the importance therof, aimed at adults. From what you've said about their general literacy level, however, it may be aimed *too* high. There's a kids version. Same title, more of a picture book.

"The Transitive Vampire" is another good one, but again, aimed at adults who already have a fairly good grip on language.

With essay writing -- or any writing, really -- the biggest thing is not the instruction book you choose, it's practice. The only thing that can really make someone a better reader or writer is to do it, over and over again. My father is a high school English teacher - I grew up in a house full of books about writing, hearing him talk with friends and colleagues about writing, and it really mostly comes down to exposure and practice.

Mastery of something requires repetition. The "rules" of a 5-paragraph essay are incredibly easy to teach - you could look them up online and find any number of overviews. The instinct of how to build an argument, though, requires reading other people's essays, thinking about what works and what doesn't, talking about what is effective, and then trying it yourself. And having someone help you think and talk about what is or isn't effective in your own writing.

And extensive reading, and discussion of reading, and writing, is where the knowledge of grammar gets developed. You can study the rules, but if you study them in a vacuum, you never really get a sense of how they all fit together. Reading books about grammar is like learning to drive in a video game -- you get the basics, but when you get into a real car, that knowledge only goes so far. Language is alive, and you learn it from using it. You learn to speak from being spoken to, and speaking again in your turn. You learn to write by reading and by talking about reading, including reading your own words and talking about them.
post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, I just found this fab site :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/e3/words/grammar/ good 'ole BBC!
So I have some plans to go through stuff with them, one of them wants quick results but a start is a good place to begin. I am doing this stuff earlier with my younger ones and leaving the unschoolong behind I'm afraid.
post #15 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DharmaDisciple View Post
They have this OU book which you can look inside that may help, it also has some others in that scheme. They would need to be set essays to write in order to improve, does Writing Strands have this? Usborne have books but I don't know if they are to young for your girls, also this one They also have Dummies books for grammar Or maybe some GCSE English CGP books that have writing workbooks with answer keys so you can mark them, if they are not sure how to do the writing you can get one of their English revision guides if you needed more than that they also have an English study book I think the CGP books look great. Hope this helps x
Thanks, so much, this is the kind of thing I was looking for x
post #16 of 37
You might have already found what you are looking for, but I thought I'd suggest a few more... just in case.

Michael Clay Thompson has some secondary curriculum. I'm not sure if these would work for the level that your kids are at, but I wanted to mention this curriculum because we like it. We have the elementary curriculum and it seems like it will work great for getting CherryPie fluent in grammar, ready for reading the classics, and learning how to compose her own written work (which she loves to do... she's just not academically there yet).

Classical Writing is another curriculum I've looked, but haven't purchased... yet. (I ended up getting MCT instead.) But they might have what you need! Their intermediate collection teaches (what sounds like) exactly what you're looking for. From their site:

Diogenes: Maxim teaches beginning thesis formulation, outlining, and essay writing. Lessons include grammar application by analyzing and imitating literary passages from great authors of the past two millennia, including Erasmus, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

This page will show you how to place your child in this curriculum. And this page tells you what to buy depending on where your child is in the placement.

For Spelling, we are using All-About-Spelling. They currently have up to level five, but it still might be too young for your kiddos. I really like how it teaches all the rules to spelling so kids have a good foundation.
post #17 of 37
Have you thought about hiring a tutor for them?

I don't mean this harshly, but you've been posting about this problem for a very long time and nothing seems to be improving. Perhaps removing yourself from the mix and hiring someone to help them get the skills they so clearly need and have been denied the opportunity to learn would be the best solution for these soon-to-be adults.

Oh, just re-read and saw that you cannot afford a tutor. I'm not sure how schools in the UK work, but would your local school have remedial classes they could take?
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbowmum View Post
School is not an option, they lead busy full happy lives and would not want to go.
Yes we have literacy struggles. I think the eldest 2 are dyslexic but can't get help till college. We have tried various things, programmes and books. Mostly they type on keyboard which they prefer to writing and use spell-check. They have each just completed a qualification that is an exam equivalent but with no exam and they typed the stuff up. They don't enjoy writing so I suppose it is a wait and see, carry on what we are doing and let college help them. Thanks for your replies
I was only asking if anyone had suggestions for books that may explain spelling rules/punctuation for older kids.
The problem is that no college (sixth form or vocational) is going to admit them if they are semi-illiterate or haven't at least completed a GCSE equivalent standard of education. Therefore you can't wait until college to resolve the problem. There are resources out there that you can utilise now but your kids might need to attend school or classes elsewhere on at least a part-time basis. I know that their lives are full and happy but I'm sure that they can fit in a few hours a week of formal education if it means the difference between life on the dole and a life filled with opportunities.

If you don't do something drastic NOW (and I don't mean chucking a few websites their way) you will be failing your kids. You obviously love your kids and accept there is a problem (or you wouldn't bother to post) but you need to be the parent here. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh but this problem has been going on for a long time and no improvements have been made.

I really recommend you do as I suggested in my previous post and contact the admissions tutors of the schools/colleges they want to attend to find out what standard they need to achieve to gain admittance and then use the school/college's resources to help your kids achieve the required standard.

Good luck!
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessie View Post
The problem is that no college (sixth form or vocational) is going to admit them if they are semi-illiterate or haven't at least completed a GCSE equivalent standard of education. Therefore you can't wait until college to resolve the problem. There are resources out there that you can utilise now but your kids might need to attend school or classes elsewhere on at least a part-time basis. I know that their lives are full and happy but I'm sure that they can fit in a few hours a week of formal education if it means the difference between life on the dole and a life filled with opportunities.

If you don't do something drastic NOW (and I don't mean chucking a few websites their way) you will be failing your kids. You obviously love your kids and accept there is a problem (or you wouldn't bother to post) but you need to be the parent here. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh but this problem has been going on for a long time and no improvements have been made.

I really recommend you do as I suggested in my previous post and contact the admissions tutors of the schools/colleges they want to attend to find out what standard they need to achieve to gain admittance and then use the school/college's resources to help your kids achieve the required standard.

Good luck!
Hi Tessie
are you in the UK? It's just that over here schools won't let you attend part time for classes, and colleges will only let you attend often after 16, so there is little in the support of more formal help for literacy unless you send your children full time to school. I am just wondering if one-one tuition with their mum on their struggles will help them get where they need to be.
post #20 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by DharmaDisciple View Post
It's just that over here schools won't let you attend part time for classes, and colleges will only let you attend often after 16, so there is little in the support of more formal help for literacy unless you send your children full time to school.
Well then, it sounds as if the OP needs to send her children to school full-time. According to her past posts, her children prefer "slobbing on the sofa watching comedy or playing on pc games most of the time." They are not motivated to do anything else and the OP is unwilling or unable to motivate them herself. After years of this, they are now functionally illiterate teenagers. What's going to become of them?
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