How Mind Mapping Helped My MERLD Son Write Great Stories

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Is writing a battle ground in your homeschool?

Maybe your child loves to write, but tends to leave out parts of speech that help give their writing depth, color and life.

Maybe your child is generally creative, but has a hard time getting their creative thought down on paper.

All three of these were issues for my son, but when we discovered mind mapping, it all changed!

Mind mapping is a great tool for studying, writing, and organizing your thoughts in general.

If your child struggles with writing, read about how mind mapping helped my son go from writing short, simple stories to great stories. #alittlerandr #mindmapping #writing #homeschool #merld #specialneedshomeschooling

Whenever my son had to do creative writing, it was a chore.

He would get started and not know where he wanted to go with his story, and get stuck.

Often his writing assignments were short, his sentences far too juvenile, and it took a lot of nagging to get him to try harder and creating more complex sentences.

Many times, writing ended in tears….for both of us.

Because my son has mixed expressive-receptive language disorder, or MERLD, language in general for him is a struggle.

Not so much comprehending parts of speech, but expressing himself with language.

He often struggles to find or remember the words he wants to use to express his thoughts.

He also struggles to understand the meaning of words.

While contemplating how I could help him improve his writing, I remembered my friend telling me about mind mapping.

What is mind mapping?

Mind mapping is basically a diagram of your thoughts.

What helped my son, was that he could diagram his thoughts, but still had room to add thoughts.

With mind mapping, we begin with the basic topic.

How we use mind mapping for writing assignments

For our first mind map, we used the topic “My Adventure In Space”; since we were learning about planets.

Start With the Main Topic

So, he drew a large circle in the middle of his paper and inside the circle wrote “Space”.

From there, he drew a line coming out of that circle and attached a smaller circle and wrote down one thing he could do in space.

Fill In the Supporting Topics

For each subject of his adventures he drew this lines coming out of the central circle, attached new circles to those lines, and wrote the subject for each adventure.

Add In the Depth, Color, and Life

From here, we were able to add in so many of the elements that were usually left out of his writing.

I asked the following questions:

  • When did you do that?
  • How long did it take?
  • How did you get there?
  • Who did you see?
  • What did you do with that person?
  • What did he wear?
  • What did you eat?
  • What did you see around you?
  • Why did you enjoy it so much?

I asked a lot of questions to fill in the details.

Whenever we answered a question that correlated with one of the supporting topics, we’d draw a line from the circle containing the supporting topics, attach a new circle, and then write in the detail.

It was so easy to go back and add in the adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, and all of the little details that make a story interesting and exciting!

He didn’t have to do a lot erasing and re-writing of his story, because he was able to build it on paper, using a map.

How Mind Mapping Helped My MERLD Son Write Great Stories

Mind mapping has not only been revolutionary in filling his stories with life and color, it has also given us amazing opportunity to discover new, descriptive words and how to use them.

With mind mapping, I have found it is a natural, non-frustrating way to go back and deal with those pesky “WH” questions MERLD kids so often struggle with.

What, Where, When, Why, Whom, How…

We can take our time and deal with them one-by-one, talk about them, answer them, and the fill them in on our mind map.

Starting the First Draft of the Story

Building the mind map can take days.

In fact, I will often take the 3rd step and stretch it out over a number of days, allowing his ideas to simmer and grow.

When he feels he is finally done, he gets out his lined paper and begins to write.

It is so much easier now, because he has all of his thoughts organized in front of him in a visual diagram, filled with exciting detail, colorful words, and fun phrases.

Overnight, his writing went from a half-page of disjointed, simple sentences to 3-4 pages of detailed writing that he was incredibly proud of!

Have you tried mind mapping, or another form of visual thought dumping?

How has it worked to transform your child’s writing assignments?

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One Comment

  1. This is brilliant! Well I have done something similar for myself never for my kids. I have one anxious daughter and I think I will talk with her about doing this to help her right about her feelings. Thank you for sharing this with everyone and thank your son please!

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