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Education

Learning Disabilities

Writing Processes

girl writingThere is a lot more to writing than coming up with good ideas. Often, children with writing disabilities have no trouble forming coherent and creative thoughts, but the graphomotor, grammatical, and structural aspects of writing may require so much effort and concentration that their best ideas never get recorded.

Learning to write, like learning to read or play a musical instrument, is generally a sequential process, normally with one set of skills building on the skills acquired earlier. Writing, however, combines many skills – including fine motor control, attention, language, memory, and others – and relies on development in many areas not specific to writing.

The following is a list of some of the milestones teachers expect of developing writers, as outlined by Dr. Mel Levine in his book “Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders.”

Preschool to First Grade

  • pretend to write
  • become aware that letters can be arranged to form words
  • begin to organize letters and shapes in a line
  • begin to print letters and numbers
  • First to Second Grade

  • become adept at printing letters
  • are preoccupied with the visual appearance of their writing
  • become self-conscious if their penmanship is less attractive than their classmates’
  • use invented spellings of words liberally
  • Late Second to Fourth Grade

  • incorporate standards of capitalization, punctuation, syntax, and grammar
  • seldom plan what they are going to write before they write it
  • use writing to relate experiences rather than to solve problems or develop ideas
  • begin writing in cursive
  • begin revising their work
  • Fourth to Seventh Grade

  • apply rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation automatically
  • begin to regularly review their own work
  • begin to write at a level equivalent to their own speech
  • learn to write in stages by incorporating outlines and multiple drafts
  • begin to assess the effectiveness of their own writing
  • Seventh to Ninth Grade

  • become increasingly adept at using writing to express a viewpoint
  • begin to use writing for thinking, problem solving, and remembering
  • learn to synthesize ideas from a variety of sources
  • begin to write at a level that exceeds their own speech
  • use transitions like “finally” and “for example” extensively
  • Ninth Grade and Beyond

  • learn to use writing styles appropriate to their subjects
  • become more creative with their writing
  • learn to use sentences of varying length and complexity
  • write with increasingly sophisticated vocabulary
  • develop individual writing styles
  • Back to Writing Home

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