Teaching writing is one of the more challenging parts of homeschool for many parents. Even if you are a strong writer yourself, you may find that guiding your children in that process is not easy. And if you aren’t a confident writer, it’s downright scary.
I got my first job as a public school teacher because of my ability to teach writing, and it has always been one of my favorite things to help students with. As a mom, I’m happy to report that Emma is a strong writer even though she dislikes reading. I credit her writing skills to a few things:
- use of minibooks in elementary years when she learned to chunk and organize information in concrete ways
- use of notebooking in elementary and middle school years
- reading aloud to her from infancy to high school (plus audio books)
- daily proofreading as a way to teach grammar
- monthly peer editing workshops in seventh and eighth grades
- my own contagious passion for writing
I have never used a formal writing curriculum although we have used different resources from time to time. But the gist of our writing instruction is simply lots of writing practice. You can read about writing and do workbook pages, but the primary way to learn to write is to write.
Teaching Writing Panel
I was recently on an iHomeschool Hangout panel about this very topic —Teaching Writing. You can watch it below, click over to watch it on YouTube, or listen to the podcast.
If you can’t watch it, here are the main things I want you to know.
1. Writing is composition. It is a mental activity not something you do with your hand.
2. Don’t confuse writing with handwriting, grammar, mechanics, spelling, or punctuation. Those are part of the proofreading and publishing steps in the writing process. But they are not part of the prewriting and drafting or even revising steps. This is the biggest mistake moms make when teaching writing. They confuse writing with these other bits (handwriting, grammar, mechanics, spelling, or punctuation) and ruin their children’s creativity and confidence by nit picking the form instead of the ideas.
3. To encourage a reluctant writer, let him choose his topics based on his passions. If he writes five essays in a row about LEGOs or video games, that’s okay. (In the video, I share an example from Emma when she was probably 5th grade and wrote every single essay that year about cats. )
Pick a different slant for each one, and focus on the writing process without worrying about the topic. Most any topic will work for teaching writing, so don’t get bogged down in that. Let your child choose an interesting topic, and teach the writing process on the back of that passion.
I have written a lot about teaching writing. Here are those posts, organized to help you find them.
Teaching Writing Series
These posts are formatted in a convenient digital guide here: Essay Tune Up.
- How to Use Prewriting to Make Essay Writing Easier
- Foolproof Essay Introduction Tricks
- Generating Details with SARQs and FIRES
- Foolproof Essay Conclusion Tricks
- Word Choice Lessons for Better Essays
- The Simple Secrets of Sentence Variety
- Transition Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Better Essays
- The Real Truth About Formulaic Essay Writing
- Do You Make These 3 Mistakes when Giving Feedback on Essays?
Peer Editing for Middle Schoolers
- Why You Should Start a Peer Editing Group for Your Homeschoolers
- Teaching Writing with a Peer Editing Co-op