By Guest Author Laurena Townsend
Teaching students to write well is no joke. It’s a complicated task. First, the students must be able to physically write. Then, they must have the intellectual maturity to understand the concept of representing language in writing. Add to that a vocabulary that enables them to actually express their thoughts and feelings appropriately; and an ability to spell, use correct grammar, and punctuation, and it becomes overwhelming. It’s enough to make any aspiring homeschool parent say, “No, thank you!”
If you’re the kind of homeschool parent who loves to write, you might be shocked to find out that your kids hate to write. It came naturally to you; why doesn’t it come naturally to them? And, even if you love to write, you might find it difficult to teach the art and science of writing to someone else. How do you quantify what flows naturally out of your brain?
If you’re the homeschool parent who hates to write, you have probably hired a tutor or decided to send your kids to classes. It’s not in your wheelhouse and you don’t want it to be. You still have “failure” tattooed across your forehead from your school days; why add another one as a homeschool teacher?
Like all skills, writing CAN be taught, and surprisingly, it CAN be taught by anyone. How?
- Foster the ability to write: Even as babies, kids start working on those fine motor muscles in their hands. Provide your kids with plenty of opportunities to fine tune those motor skills. Surround them with crayons and puzzles and pencils and pens. Let them scribble and swirl and dot to their hearts’ content. Inspire them to try forming letters when they’re ready, and don’t worry that what they produce isn’t perfect.
- Read, read, read, read, read: Read out loud to your kids. Snuggle up with good books. Encourage them to look at books and follow along with the words as you read. Once they learn to read on their own, make sure reading time is an important part of your school day. Show them how important it is by setting aside large chunks of time for them to read.
- Use a large vocabulary with your kids: Don’t dumb down what you want to say. There is nothing like having just the right word to use to convey a precise meaning. Expose them to all the amazing words in language!
- Start small: Start with the most important component of writing—a sentence. Teach them to write it correctly. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings by making corrections. Teach them that it’s okay not to be perfect, and that writing is all about editing. You wouldn’t allow your kids to bang on the piano and tell them that it’s good enough for the recital; why would you allow them to write a sentence poorly and tell them that it’s good enough for an essay?
- Find a curriculum that works for your family: With so many options these days, don’t settle for the curriculum that everyone else is doing, but doesn’t work for you. Do you dread teaching it? Do your kids melt down when it’s time to write? Is every writing assignment a battle? It doesn’t have to be that way. The ability to write well is a lifetime skill which your kids will need to succeed. Take the time to research and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to keep tossing out curricula until you find the one that works for you. It will be worth the search.
Teaching writing can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. No matter your background, there is a writing curriculum out there that can help you teach your kids to write. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking! Your kids will thank you..