Guide to Teaching a Home Schooler to Love to Write
There is a trend rising around the globe, and it is homeschooling. While the increase of having your child sit at home, and getting them engaged in their studies is something many parents were not prepared for, unless they were already educators, the need for suggestions on how to teach them what is necessary for them to pass the tests each school year is also on the rise.
Math and science has become popular with home schoolers due to the games online that help them grow to love these subjects, but writing seems to get students in a grumpy mood. Parents hear, “I hate to write, I hate to read, it’s so boring”.
Parents, before you get frustrated and just give them the math and science homework instead of writing work, consider this:
- When our children practice their handwriting, it helps them develop their coordination
- Their reading skills increase
- Their spelling skills increase
- When they are fluid in handwriting skills, children learn to concentrate on task for longer periods of time
- Visual skills and motor skills are enhanced and they become better writers
- Writers are in high demand in workforce, and practicing now will help them study better in college
So how do we get our kids engaged in literature and writing as much as they seem to love math and science? The first thing a home school educator must do is come up with an engaging writing curriculum specific to the age of the child.
For Grades 1-4
When teaching this age group, we must keep in mind that their focus changes quickly. You can begin to peak their interest by asking them to write a simple list. Show them a list of your favorite things, and ask them to make a list of 5 of their favorite things. After their list is done, ask them to write 2 sentences telling you why each thing is important to them.
The one thing that we know about this demographic is that are still very much self-centered by nature and always want to talk about what interests them.
While teaching your kids to become writers, start developing a curriculum of how to teach them by buying books based on teaching kids to write. You can find many in your neighborhood library, or amazon.com is a low-cost place to buy books.
Graphics are always on the walls of elementary schools. This is because children have great imaginations. Gather many pictures of animals, cartoon characters, and even their favorite video game characters. You can type them into any search engine then click images, and they will pop up.
Hang them near you homeschooled child at the beginning of the lesson and start a sentence about the picture and instruct your child to write a short story to go along with your sentence.
Make sure you have many picture books on hand for your child and try these tips:
- After lunch sit with your child and read a book to them, if they already know how to read, ask that they read a paragraph then you read one. Reading encourages writing. When coming across words that your child struggles with, write it down or highlight it in the book. (only if you own the book, do not write in Library books)
- When you are done, go over the words that your child had trouble with and ask that they write a sentence for each of the words.
- Have your child create flash cards with color markers, putting words on one side and the name of the book they came out of on the other side.
- The next day, let them choose the book they want to read after lunch. Start a book shelf close to the area where your child is homeschooling.
Parents, keep in mind that you are teaching the child to love to write, and this means giving them something they love to read. Sometimes this may mean changing location in the home also.
No Distractions Please
Being homeschooled can be a challenge because you are in the comfort of your home and we are used to turning on the television, the radio, answering the telephone, the door etc.
While your little angel is trying to write their sentences, do not get distracted by phone calls or anything else. Kids will do what they see you do and if you allow for distractions while schooling is going on, you will inevitably have to begin again and again.
One suggestion that we have found helpful, is changing the location of where you teach your child. If the living room is where you all usually watch your favorite shows or entertain guests. Don’t teach there.
If the child’s room has their games, television etc. you may not want to leave them in there to study. Create an office space, or use your home office as the place that studies take place.
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Nature Teaches Us
If it is a beautiful day, to encourage writing about the neighborhood, take a walk to the nearby park, you can practice writing in sand or with a stick in the dirt, or go to the library and have a lesson there.
Take a car ride to the country, a day trip, much like they do in secular schools. Stop at a new place that you have never been, and pull out paper and writing tools and ask that your child create a story about where they are and what they see, but the story must be about:
- The smallest person on the planet
- Leaving the planet
- If everything was blue (or any color you choose)
- What they would do if they were lost in the middle of the woods
- Their tennis shoes, if they were magic
- If the car was a plane, where would you both go
- What happened when it began to rain?
- How many things they can think of that are in your house
- What they would do if cupcakes began to fall from the sky that could talk
This exercise should take about 25 minutes or less and if they do not finish, keep that notebook in the car when you get back home. That notebook is now the car-story book and will be used when you go out.
When you must teach middle-school kids how to develop an essay, you as a parent may need help in this area. Before you teach this subject, get in touch with a professional writing service that can help with your essays. Websites like this can give you feedback on an essay that you write and send to them, or they can write a professional essay and send it to you fully structured so you can use it as a guide.
Sample essays are always good to have around when it comes to writing. Not only for your child, but for you to get good at your writing also.
Middle schoolers are harder to keep engaged than little ones, they think they are too sophisticated for their parents when it comes to things like technology. We suggest that technology like their phones be off limits, unless they are used for writing.
Many times, if we offer time on the computer or on their phones in exchange for writing a story, this works wonders for middle schoolers, no matter how much they hate writing. Some of the subjects that interests them are:
- Their favorite star (music, sports, television)
- Have them research someone they admire and write 2 paragraphs about them
- Jobs. Middle schoolers are interested in making their own money, tell them to write about their dream job and what they would do with their first paycheck.
- If they could go to any school in the country or the world, where would they go (this will give you an idea whether their mind is on college)
Pick a day out of the week where you the parent becomes the student. Have your middle schooler create a lesson plan for you to carry out. They will spend up to 1-hour writing out what they want you to accomplish for your writing lesson. They will be testing you on grammar and developing an essay for you to write.
This task will get their writing lesson in and they won’t even think they are doing work. It will all be about teaching you not them.
Tell them to create a spelling word list for the following week and they must test you on your spelling list. If they are having trouble, be prepared to give them websites to find lists of words where they can do their research for you.
Not only will this be fun, they will ask to do this again and again. Let them know that you love their teaching style and that you look forward to the days that they get to teach you.
Writing Letters and With Others
We as parents that homeschool must remember that writing just for us can become a bit boring for kids. Here are a few tips that can give your writing lessons new spark:
- Start a play date that invites other homeschoolers and their parents over to read aloud each other’s short stories
- Find a pen-pal site and write to people from other countries and read their letters aloud.
- Don’t wait for the holidays to write to Grandparents, write them just to say you miss them.
- Ask the local library if they would give you space to have poetry readings once a month, and get other parents that homeschool involved in participating.
- Develop cliff hanger stories that you pass around to your neighbors to finish. Start at the house on the block with something that goes like this. Today when the lights went out all over town…, then the next house gets to fill in a couple of sentences until it is a full story.
Substitute the Writing
Creative writing, and writing in general can be exciting and beneficial to all students, but to those that hate to write, it may take genuine effort to just get out one sentence.
There are other projects that you can get you child interested in and still get them practicing their writing. For instance:
- Find a word puzzles (offer prizes for most words found)
- Creating their own crossword puzzles
- Use pictures to fill in word blanks instead of writing them in
- Create a list of rhyming words and then write a poem for them to recite out loud
- Tell them to use each letter in their names to come up with funny words that rhyme
- Hide word cards around the house and have a scavenger hunt to find them. When found, each word must be yelled out, and they must replace a card around the house for your turn to find. (Parent participation is so important in helping the child that does not like to write)
- When it is time to do the food shopping, get your child to sit down and write down what you call out that the house needs. Eggs, cheese, bread, etc. then tell them to write down some of their favorites on the list also. At the market, they will be reading the list back to you as you get the things from the shelves.
You are on your way to helping your student learn to love writing. The more they read, the more prone they are to become good writers. At the end of every month, there should be an essay written. Start with one page, and by the end of the homeschool semester they should be writing at least 3 pages of text. For younger children, include pictures that they can draw along with their stories.
With these and other tips that are online for homeschooling parents, you will succeed in giving your child the best homeschool experience that you can give. Good luck!