Children with dyslexia often find it difficult to put their ideas into words. Written language contains lots of complex rules that can make writing a daunting task. For a sentence to make sense a child must understand the rules surrounding grammar, sentence construction and punctuation. This can seem like a lot for child to remember, particularly those who are dyslexic and may struggle with executive function or have a slow processing speed. For example, a dyslexic child may forget to include punctuation or use a comma instead of a full stop, creating long, confusing sentences.
Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) shows that school closures due to Covid-19 had a significant disruptive effect on children in the early stages of reading. The EEF study also showed that the disruption had a negative effect on a child’s ability to provide longer written responses and to recognise question words.
Nessy’s Writing Beach is here to help! This program makes learning the rules of written language fun, with engaging videos and interactive games. Rules of language are broken down into small, manageable chunks making them much easier to be understood and mastered. Once a child has a good grasp of the rules of language, they will be able to put their ideas onto paper. Writing Beach also features several printable worksheets, as the physical act of writing is important for literacy development, teaching children the basics of written language both on the screen and off.
So, what are some of these rules and how does Writing Beach break them down? Let us start with sentence structure.
How to Structure a Sentence
A child will need to understand how a sentence is structured for it to make sense. Writing Beach breaks this down.
Some children are unsure of how to create a complete sentence and struggle to understand the concepts of noun and verb. Writing Beach outlines three simple questions a child can ask themselves when they are writing:
- Does the sentence have a subject?
- Is the subject doing anything?
- Does the sentence make sense?
For example: “The dog is running in the park.”
The subject of the sentence is the dog, the subject is running in the park, and the sentence makes sense.
As children advance their development, they learn to expand a sentence. Conjunctions are used to add more information to a sentence but are more easily understood by calling them joining words. The sentence “The dog is running in the park.” can be expanded with the word “and”, now making the sentence “The dog is running in the park and having fun.”
How to use Punctuation
Commas, apostrophes, and exclamation/question marks can also be tric
ky concepts for a dyslexic child to grasp. Writing Beach breaks these concepts down, going through each one by one. Afterwards, a child can reinforce what they have learned through a series of fun games.
Commas are used when you want to add extra information to a sentence. A child can view a comma as a little break before continuing with the rest of the sentence. A part of a sentence is called a clause, and a comma can also be used to link two clauses together. such as: “Football is fun, it is healthy and competitive’.
Commas are very important as they can completely change the meaning of a sentence. For example, the sentence ‘Let’s eat, Dad’ will mean let’s eat with dad, but can take on an entirely different meaning when you remove the comma by becoming ‘Let’s eat Dad’!
These can be used in a couple of different ways:
- Can be used to contract two words into one smaller word, such as ‘do’ and ‘not’ into ‘don’t’.
- Can also be used to denote when something belongs to something else, for instance ‘The dog’s bark is loud’.
Question and Exclamation Marks
Some sentences can end in either an exclamation or question mark. Writing Beach helps a child to remember which punctuation mark to use. For instance, an exclamation mark can be used to give a sentence more excitement! On the other hand, a question mark is used when a sentence starts with a question word such as why, when, and where. The EEF study found that children struggled to interpret question words after the disruption of Covid-19.
Nouns, Adjectives and Verbs
Nouns, adjectives and verbs are also important when it comes to written language.
A noun is the thing a sentence is about, so every sentence must have one! A noun can be a thing, a person, animal, or place.
Every noun needs a verb. The verb tells you what a noun is doing. Children can see the verb as a ‘doing’ word.
Adjectives are describing words, used to give nouns flavour.
Writing Beach has a fun way for a child to remember the difference between these three types of word! The Amazing Vibrating Newt, or AVN, helps children easily remember the difference: Amazing is an Adjective, both starting with an A. Vibrating is a Verb, both starting with a V. Newt is a Noun, both starting with a N.
Many children with dyslexia have lots of ideas, but struggle when it comes to writing them down. Writing Beach provides the scaffolding needed to transfer ideas into writing. From simple bullet point lists of key words to using columns as a structure for parts of speech, Writing Beach helps children whether they are at the beginning stages or need more advanced skills such as linking ideas into paragraphs.
Writing Beach is a great introduction to writing concepts by teaching children in a fun and memorable way with videos, games and strategies. Once a child has grasped the rules of written language, they will be able to get their great ideas down on paper for all to see! Once these core rules have been introduced, Writing Beach will go on to teach the basics of writing a story by exploring paragraphing, tense, story planning and descriptive writing.
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“We love Nessy Writing Beach. It builds up the student’s confidence step by step and gives the teacher great planning ideas for games when developing more interesting sentences for story or poetry writing.”