Correcting 1St Grader's Work

Updated on September 21, 2013
S.N. asks from Lake Villa, IL
33 answers

My son who just started 1st grade got the traveling journal this weekend to write a descritpion about what he did with "Buzzy the Bee", the little mascot of the class ( a stuffed animal that each child will spend a weekend with). He is the second one to get it out of the class. So he did it at his afterschool care during the home work time. He was proud of the work and I was proud of his effort.

Here's my dilemma. This is a project to be done after the weekend to discuss what you did with Buzzy. He wrote about a make believe play time and nothing is spelled correctly. His writing is not good. This is a journal that will travel to each family and be read by all. It is not his best work and I think the project is meant to be done with parents. So do I make him do it all over, erase all the misspellings and rewrite it? He doesn't have the best writing or spelling as it is; I'm afraid the kids may kid him about it. But I don't want him to feel that I don't love that he tried.

Don't want to crush his spirit. Good enough for me, but maybe not to be passed around to all the other kids during the year. Would you have him do another? He's going on an overnight with my sister and I thought that I could tell him we should write about that. Do I rip it out or help him correct what he's done?

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answers from Dallas on

Leave it alone, mama. He is fine. This won't be his only work and if you change his stuff, every mom that sees it will be disheartened. It's like when a project is done by parents. NOT a good thing!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Leave it as is.

It is the beginning of the school year and the teacher wants to see his true work. If I were you I would even make a copy of it and compare it to the end of the school year work, to show him how much he learned in 1st grade.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I would have him re-write it after the weekend not because there are spelling errors etc. but because the assignment was to write about his weekend with "Buzzy the Bee" not to make up a story about it.

You can help him with spelling and grammar while he does it on Sunday.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Hello, Hello...reality check - IT'S FIRST GRADE!!!! Your son has a great imagination and he's learning to spell. Bravo for being creative. Any "activity" with a stuffed animal is imaginary - because it is a stuffed animal. Who cares if it really happened - and how could it? Unless it is something boring like "I took Buzzy to the park." Totally boring. Much better to say, "Buzzy and I took a rocket ship to the moon and said Hello to the man in the moon." The second is much more interesting. The misspelling are the cuteness factor. And re: spelling: Are you reading responses on this website - tons of misspellings! RELAX and congratulate your son on completing the assignment. Remember that grades from 1st grade have no bearing on college entrance or anything else in life. Let it go.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Keep the imaginary one, and add the trip with sister. He's in1st grade. Relax. No child has perfect spelling and grammer. Why would other kids who have THE SAME skill set tease him? They ALL write like this. Relax. So the bee goes on an imaginary trip during play time and on another trip to visit family.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Normally I'd say leave it alone if he was supposed to simply make a story, but he was supposed to write about real events. I'd gently explain that to him, not criticizing the work he did do, and have him do it over at the end of the weekend once he has actual events to write about.

Don't be overly picky about his spelling and grammar at this point. Do encourage him to take his time and do well, but don't try for perfection. It should be authentic to his level.

Pull out the page with his fictional story and keep it for him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

This is a question for the teacher, so please give her a call. Ask her about the spelling and handwriting. I don't imagine she's expecting it to be, um, publishing-house quality! Your child may be doing all right for his age, too.

While you're talking to her, let her know that your boy's story is a make-believe one that he wrote completely himself. Even if the assignment was to describe the activities of a real weekend, there's *no way* a creative story should be squashed! The teacher needs to read it. I'm impressed with it already and I'll never see it! It could be that she's looking at communication skills more than adherence to rules.

If you're still concerned, your son can always add the ubiquitous tag ending (which he couldn't get away with if he were much older): "...And then Buzzy found he had been daydreaming! But what a daydream!"

Don't worry about what the other families may think. Everybody has to start somewhere in writing - especially after only a few weeks in first grade.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Ask the teacher what you should be doing to help your son with his homework. Does she want you correcting it or does she want to be the one?

By the way, no kid in 1st grade has the best spelling or writing. Don't be embarrassed that it will be passed around to other parents.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Peoria on

Have you heard of the Writing Process? First, at this age, they are still learning how to write properly - so mistakes (and phonetic spelling) are normal and expected. Second, he should be learning the proper Writing Process at school. When a child writes, they typically do a first draft called the "Drafting" step (this is after "Brainstorming" which he already did). Why not make this his first "Draft," and then do the "Edit and Revise" step together? Give him an opportunity to find and correct some of the mistakes. Have him write the corrections in a different color so it is clear when he rewrites it. Then have him "Publish" the final draft with his corrections (don't expect 100% correct). This is how we do the writing process at our school. It is a great way to get them writing, help them learn and feel a sense of pride with the final published copy without feeling discouraged. For more on the "Writing Process" just Google those words. Good luck! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Leave the one he wrote and help him write one over the weekend. Tell him that as much as you are proud of him for doing it on his own that the assignment is for him to do it with a parent over the weekend and that's when it should be done from now on. Buy him another journal where he can write make believe stories if that's what he enjoys doing. I have a 4th grader and 1st grader and they each have notebooks that they can write in, draw in or whatever they want it. They can either share it with us, friends, family or keep it to themselves. I also don't think other kids will tease your son, they probably can't spell any better than he can and some might not even be able to read very well. The whole point of these type of assignments is to get the practicing writing, sounding out words and learning to spell.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

First off a first grader's writing is not going to be great. There will be a ton of misspellings and words will be out of place and in the wrong tense. They have to learn to sound out words so as long as they write what it sounds like it will be fine. Nothing to worry about there. I think that it is more important to take the time with him and discuss what is going into the journal. Tell the truth. If he played make believe and he wants to writes about it then let him but before writes it down talk to him about it. He won't necessarily need help with spelling (first graders aren't expected to get everything right - as long as it sounds correct to them) but he may need help with the thought process.

"So what do you do with Buzzy Bee first during make believe time?" "What did Buzzy Bee eat for lunch?" "Where did Buzzy Bee sleep?"" Help him think about what happened over the weekend and then do the journal. As far as rewriting it - I probably wouldn't do the whole thing but take some time and read it back to him. Ask him if he wants to change some things or add some things. Read it as if you are a parent of another student and if you can't tell what the word is - ask him. Make him look at the word and correct it.

There are numerous times I want to correct my daughter's work and I have to force myself to just sit back. It's something she has to learn overtime anyways. This sounds like a fun project for him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

No! Do not have him write another. Yes, if you make him rewrite something about Buzzy the Bee, you will start crushing his spirit and his love for learning.

Most first graders are going to have spelling mistakes; no one will kid him about it.

He was proud of his work. So you absolutely do NOT want to ruin that. This is the time for him to have fun with school and learn to love it, so mirror his enthusiasm and don't sweat the small stuff.

Don't give him extra homework -- i.e. having him write about the overnight with your sister -- unless he actually would like to do that. The school is giving him homework, you need to trust that they know what they are doing.

Some kids love to do extra work and fuss over their spelling in first grade. If he's that kind of kid, then fine, fuss over his spelling. But most kids aren't like that.

Let it be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

He's very young. The fact that he can write enough words to express himself in this format is really very good for a child who is 6. He will have many opportunities going forward to work on his spelling, punctuation, and grammar. To give you an idea, my 6th grader is now an excellent writer, but up until mid-4th grade, I was still kind of concerned because her spelling, grammar, and punctuation weren't so great. Even through 5th grade, she was still having to correct some misspellings here and there, and I would correct her on some of her punctuation. And she was 10! Just remember, learning to write is not a sprint, it's a marathon.

I would ask your son's teacher what she would expect from such an assignment. She can give you ideas about what she's hoping for, and can reassure you that this is totally normal. She can also let you know how she approaches corrections in class, so you can try to keep things consistent with homework.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

He didn't lie so much as he enthusiastically anticipated what he needed to do and acted on it - which is WONDERFUL!
So many kids freeze up not knowing how to start and he jumped in with both feet as it were.
You might want to note that this might be typical of his learning style - it might be a common pattern with him.

Tell him it's a good outline and good practice and now he'll be better prepared to write about what REALLY happens this weekend with Buzzy (the over night with his aunt and the rest of the weekend)!

ALSO - stress that what get's written in the journal should be his final version.
No one ever writes a paper by writing it once.
You start with an outline, you have a rough copy, there might be one or more versions where some polishing and rewording happens and then the final finished product version is what gets turned in.
He can practice writing what he wants to say in another notebook or loose leaf paper then copy his final version into the journal.

That being said - in the 1st grade mis-spellings and some backwards letters are very common.
His small motor control (all the small muscles in his hands and arms) is still developing so the writing won't be as clear as it will eventually be.
Ask the teacher about what the appropriate level of guidance from you should be on this project.
Understanding what she wants is important for both your son and you.
So always tell him if he's puzzled or unsure to always ask questions till he understands.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When my daughter was in first grade, she had a similar assignment. I helped her with the spelling of words because she asked, but SHE was the one who did the writing and chose what to write about.

Unless the other kids in his class are total jerks, no one is going to pay attention to his writing.

He's proud of his work, so show him that you're proud of him by leaving it alone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

I am not a teacher but I've raised two great students way past 1st grade.

I have heard from educators I trust that at his age you do not "correct" creative writing. As he develops his writing skills he will work on the process of drafts and developing a final essay that would take into account corrections and ideas from others. Right now he should just be working on getting his story on paper.

Of course it wasn't his best writing, it was a single draft of a story he thought up himself. Can you imagine trying to get all your great ideas out but only being able to write at a first grade level?

As to the fact that he made something up instead of real life just wait until you read that journal. Some kids will write about how they took buzzy to the moon!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My theory is if the journal comes back with perfect spelling and grammar. The teacher is going to know YOU did the work either for him so helped him so much that it is literally your work and not his work. No first grader is going to spell perfectly...I have my first grader sound out the words and spell them best she can...

I would however tell him that while his work is good for an imaginary play time with Buzzy...the actual assignment is to describe something you actually did with Buzzy.

So, tear out the pretend journal entry and have him do it over with an actual activity so he gets the spirit of the project and understands the assignment. But let him sound out the words and write it the best he can...the other parents will know he did the work and not you...and I think the teacher will appreciate being able to see his writing abilities with out help from mom.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

He is in 1st grade.
NO kid in 1st grade, is a PERFECT speller nor perfect in their handwriting or neatness.
He is NOT the only one.
I would leave it as is.
The Teacher, NEEDS to see, a child's own work. So that he/she can assess and know each child's skills.
If a parent routinely.... "corrects" and neatens up their child's homework, it is NOT their own, work. Because the parent did it.
This is not a real reflection of the child's work.

And, so what what others may see/read as the journal gets circulated.
NO 1st grader, is accurate nor perfect in their writing or spelling at this age/grade. I helped out in both of my kids' classes when they were in 1st grade, and I also corrected work too and read with the class etc. I know the WIDE range of, work that kids do.
Your son is NOT the only one, writing/spelling this way.

Speak to the Teacher about it, that you are a bit.... wary about it all being that this journal gets circulated to all the other kids/parents and they will see, each, child's, work, too. And how is that... handled???? ie: when/if other kids or parents, make "comments" about another kid's work?
I would, ASK the Teacher.
Most seasoned Teachers... WILL HAVE A response to this and a way to handle... the potential comments made by other kids or their parents, when one child's work is seen... by everyone that that journal gets circulated to.
I know, my kids' 1st Grade Teacher, CLEARLY.... explained this to all the kids and their parents (via a flier sent home), about it. It is NOT meant to judge, any kid or their abilities.

Do not crush your son's spirit.
For me, I always tell my kids that what they write is THEIR own idea and imagination. HENCE, it is, meaningful. And EACH person, is different. That is important. To be, themselves. NOT a copy-cat and to be PROUD... of their own imagination or work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Don't have him redo a thing -- please! He's proud of his work, he ENJOYED doing his homework: those are 10 million times more important than what anyone else thinks of his work, and they're really hard to come by. And really, by turning in something that's not overly perfect, you're doing all the other parents are huge favor -- you're telling them it's okay if their kids aren't perfect either. Because none of them are.

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answers from Lansing on

My daughters 1st grade teacher encourages kids to write out words by sounding them out vs us just telling them how to spell it if they don't know how to spell the word. In fact my daughters presentation this last week consisted of places she goes with her family. I had her sound out all the places and write them as them on top of the pictures on a piece of paper. Her teacher commented on her graded paper how happy she was that she sounded out her words.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My son's K and 1st grade teachers both told us not to correct our son's homework. If we did so, it prevented them from understanding our son's strengths and weaknesses, and what lessons the kids were absorbing, and which they weren't - and they need this info to be an effective teacher.

So no, I say let it go.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Here's what I would do; call the teacher and ask if there's a word list they should be working from. Our son is in first grade and since kindergarten, there has been a word wall/list of words they have 'learned' and teachers would like them to spell those words correctly; most of the rest can be in 'kid' writing. So, when my son does his writing for his journal, I do consult the list for the basic words and have him re-write them correctly.

That said, do talk with the teacher if you have any questions, because every class is different and she may have different goals and expectations.

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answers from Las Vegas on

It is about school work and he needs to be corrected. You can get all mushy about his Saturday art class, but he needs to correct his mistakes for school work.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Only help him correct the words that you can't decipher. Then help him add onto the journal with what he did over the weekend. Just drop the teacher a note to let her know what you did.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Ditto Hell on Heels. Contact his teacher and ASK what the expectation is for this project.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If I read your post correctly - your son lied in his journal entry?! I don't mean that to sound harsh, and I might have misunderstood, but are you saying that he made up a story about "what we did over the weekend" in advance of the actual weekend (since today is Friday)?

If that is correct, then I think THAT is the big problem here. Your son might have rushed through the journal-writing as part of "getting his homework done" so he wouldn't have homework over the weekend.

Talk to the teacher today if you have time. But otherwise, I think you should encourage your son to be honest about the report of his weekend. Whether he writes it alone or you help him, don't write it until some of the "weekend" has actually happened!!

Beyond that - I think it's fine that he tried to write it himself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

With these types of assignments, I can tell when the parent helps too much and actually feel bad for the kid. They should be able to try to do this on their own. I let my kids do their own assignments like these, and while they are no where near as 'perfect' as the ones where the parents 'help', I know that my child did it on their own! And that is something to be proud of!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I would ask the teacher. I was told to let my first grader write phonetically for some 'projects' and to have them correct any letters/numbers written backwards on the spot.

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answers from Dallas on

The reason I would go over it with him is to help encourage penmanship and grammar.
To get him to slow down and think about what he wants to write. I like the idea of a second entry or do a re-write focusing on one aspect - like keeping the letters in the right format.
I do realize it is first grade, but teaching your child that all aspects of a project need to be done to their very best is a good lesson to learn and be taught at any age.
Don't worry about what other parents think though, they know it is the first of the year. The kids at the end of the year will look way better due to the amount of learning and practice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I would definitely keep what he has done. At the end of the weekend you could encourage him to write about what he did over the weekend and include that as well.

I'm curious about your son's school. You mention that his spelling isn't the best. Has he already had spelling tests? My son is in first grade, and I've been told they will be doing spelling tests this year. Right now they are very much focused on sight works and independent reading. He brings hoe books each night and we try to have him read each night.

Your son's school very well could be further alone than my son's. I'm just wondering if you're expectations are a little high.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You're worried about what others will think, that they may think your little angel,who just started first grade is not a genius??


answers from Chicago on

Help him correct what he has done.

If you know your son is such a poor speller why did you not figure out what you wanted to say, write or type it out first and then allow him to copy. 1st graders can learn what a "rough draft" is too.

We did a similar project in kindergarten with "Parker Panther" and I wrote out what he wanted to say and he copied it into the journal. This way his thoughts were clear, understood and legible.

Personally, I was never a fan of this project - we always seemed to get Parker on a "chill" weekend where we had nothing planned - so Parker got to help clean house ;)



answers from Washington DC on

I think the key words in your post are these: "This is a journal that will travel to each family and be read by all. It is not his best work...."

You are worried about what other parents will think. You know that other kids will not tease him about misspellings etc., right? They are in the same boat as he is. It's the parents you're concerned about here.

Please realize that if you start that now -- worrying that other parents will see his work and it won't be his best -- you are going to have an ulcer by, oh, third grade.

You mention that you "think the project is meant to be done with parents." If the teacher did not explicitly say or send home a written instruction that it IS meant to be done "with" parents, then it's your son's work and not a joint project.

I am NOT saying "Don't ever look at your kid's assignments," so I'm definitely not coming from the position of "Parents should leave kids on their own entire and let them sink or swim and never, ever offer any help." We always know what assignments our daughter has and especially in math we review (but don't correct FOR her) her homework, and as she gets older (middle school now) we still know pretty much what she has due because she communicates that to us and asks us to look at some things.

But if you start in first grade by hovering over an assignment and assuming it's a parent-child joint assignment without being sure -- you are going to have a long, tough road ahead of you. Relax. Being involved with what he's doing at school does not mean this level of micromanagement, especially this early. His may not be the most polished piece in this journal and probably won't be the least polished. Ask yourself instead: "Why am I so invested in what other parents think of my child's work?"

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