Second Grade: Pen for your student for as long as necessary.
Children often think they cannot write because they do not have the penning skills to compose sentences or paragraphs or the spelling skills to spell the words they want to use. Right off the bat, the young child grows to dislike writing. He feels inadequate (and thus, the many “I don’t know how to write” or “I’m bad at writing” mentalities of this age group).
Usually a child’s creativity and thinking processes are way above their small motor and spelling skills. That is, a child can think (and orally compose) way above what he can write (spelling-wise and writing mechanics-wise) or spell (encoding; just because a child can “decode”—sound out words—does not mean he can ‘’encode”—spell the words). This is where penning for your student (especially for dyslexic/dysgraphic ones and/or “late bloomers”) makes the difference between your child seeing himself as a writer or as a student who is “behind.”
With our severely dyslexic daughter, I penned nearly every day until she was twelve years old. (Boy was I ever thankful when we got a computer in that time period!) She often wrote stories, and she just sat down beside me and “wrote aloud” while I wrote the words on paper. Many times I would have her write essays and reports (i.e. dictate them to me as I penned them).
She never thought she wasn’t smart because she was behind in spelling. She never thought she wasn’t creative because she couldn’t “write.” When she read aloud what she had orally written, she knew she was a writer. She knew that she could create.
Penning for a child shows him that writing is the spoken word written down. It shows him that he is smart, creative, and clever. It shows him that he has the skills to write in his brain—and as soon as his small motor skills and spelling skills (or the ability to type and use spell check!) catch up to his brain, he will be an awesome writer!
(Oh, I forgot to tell you that, that twelve year old daughter who couldn’t write went on to get perfect scores on the verbal and reading portions of the ACT not once, but twice! Guess her “penning” caught up to her brain. 🙂 )
Note: For a gentle introduction to language arts, spelling, vocabulary, editing, and writing, check out my Christian language arts series, Character Quality Language Arts, Level Pre-A. (You can print off and try a one month sample here.) For writing/composition-only, check back frequently on my Meaningful Composition writing series. Books 2 I, 2 II, 3 I, and 3 II will be coming out over the next year! These books are fun, fun, fun!