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4 Ways to Be More Consistent with Writing Instruction


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Confession time: I find it easy to let writing instruction fall by the wayside in my homeschool. There. I said it. Writing is one of the most vital skills to teach a kid, and yet I have trouble teaching writing consistently.

Why is that? It’s because teaching writing isn’t easy. It takes time and one-on-one instruction. As much as I’d like to send my kids off to learn writing on their own, they need my help.

4 Ways to Be More Consistent with Writing Instruction

I’m not saying that my kids don’t write. They do. It’s just that the part where I impart knowledge to them on the subject sometimes isn’t as consistent as I’d like it to be.

Effective writing instruction includes modeling, editing, and publishing your student’s work. It involves providing feedback and identifying weak spots that need to be improved.

Younger students (and many older ones) need help brainstorming ideas and organizing their thoughts. They may even need you to help with the physical act of writing while they dictate their thoughts to you.

Teens need help applying their foundational writing skills to writing essays and research papers. Many still need assistance in breaking their assignments into daily goals and holding them accountable for meeting deadlines.

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to be more consistent with writing instruction – that thing where I purposefully work with my kids to improve their writing skills. What’s my plan?

Use Writing Prompts

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is coming up with ideas. That’s when writing prompts come in handy. I love to give my teens a few writing prompts from which to choose rather than assigning one. That way, they can pick the one that sparks their interest rather than trudging through a boring assignment.

The free monthly writing prompt downloads from WriteShop are fantastic! You can also sign up to get a daily writing prompt for teens or elementary grade students via email.

WriteShop

I’ve been surprised at some of the writing prompts my kids have chosen and the level of creativity that has resulted. I don’t use writing prompts every day, and they shouldn’t take the place of formal writing instruction, but they make a fantastic change of pace and provide an excellent source of consistent writing practice.

Try a Variety of Writing

Many kids have a preference for writing genre. Both of my girls prefer creative writing. They like to tell stories. My boy would much rather write a how-to paper.

I like giving my kids a say in what they write because they tend to enjoy the process more that way. However, I also want to make sure to include a variety of writing style practice in our homeschool. Kids need opportunities to write poetry, make lists, express an opinion, explain a process, describe something in vivid detail, write an essay, and complete a research paper.

Those creative writers need to be able to write expository papers, and my how-to guy has an impressive creative streak when he decides to tap into it.

Have a Plan

You know that saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Yeah, that’s true with writing instruction, too. Thankfully, we use WriteShop, and they make the planning part easy. The teacher’s guide has one-, two-, and three-year tracks all laid out for you in their lesson plans section. They even offer tips on choosing the right track for your family.

WriteShop I and II

What WriteShop doesn’t do is come to your house and teach writing for you. {ahem} Nope, that’s where your own planning and self-discipline come into play. (Hence, the main reason for writing this post. Apparently, my self-discipline is lacking.)

My plan for consistently teaching writing this year is two-fold. First, I’m going to put a reminder on my phone. It may sound crazy, but that’s about the only way I can keep myself organized. I love the Tick-Tick app. I have reminders for everything from checking the dogs’ water every four days to taking my meds each morning. Why not add “teach writing,” too?

Second, I’m going to invite WriteShop to come to my house and teach writing for me. Yes! After years of trying to find my own self-discipline, I’m going to try the WriteShop video courses! I’ll still have to do the editing and grading and such (though there are options for them to do that for you), but with the video courses, I should be able to send my teens off to do their writing lessons on their own.

And, lest you think that I’m unwilling to teach my kids, it’s not that. It’s just that we all have different preferred work times. That’s what makes working one-on-one so tricky. I’m hoping the video courses will allow my teens to do the majority of the lessons independently on their preferred schedules.

4 Ways to Be More Consistent with Writing Instruction

Give Writing a Purpose

It’s crucial that kids – no matter what age – see a point to writing. They don’t want to labor over brainstorming, writing a rough draft, editing, and rewriting a neat final draft just to have Mom slap a grade on their paper and move on. That seems like a pointless waste of time and effort.

It’s important that we publish our kids’ writing in some form or fashion. Some ideas for “publishing” include:

  • Sending the final draft to a friend or relative
  • Creating homemade books
  • Submitting the completed project to a magazine or website
  • Blogging
  • Displaying the paper on the fridge or bulletin board
  • Adding the final draft to your student’s portfolio
  • Creating a project such as a comic strip or play

Can you believe that I can’t sell my teens on the idea of blogging? What is wrong with them?! I have one who likes to produce videos, though, so that is one publishing option for her.

There’s no one right way to publish a student’s work. The chosen method just needs to be one that is fun for the writer and shows him that he’s not writing just for the sake of checking off a box on his assignment sheet.

What are your best tips for keeping a consistent writing schedule?

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