Teaching a child how to write well seems to be yet another area of struggle for many homeschooling parents. Once again, this doesn’t have to be the case. While some kids have a natural talent in this area, many more do not. To me, writing isn’t an area to stress over or to push.
I really like what Susan Wise Bauer has to say about writing. She encourages parents not to push journaling unless a child just really enjoys it. She also discourages having a child do a lot of writing until they have had a lot of experience with copywork and dictation first. Her theory is that there is much more involved in writing than most of us realize. First, you have to get in your mind what you want to say. Then, you have to hold that thought in your mind long enough to get your brain to tell your hand to write the words. Not an easy thing for a young child.
After having homeschooled for over five years and having talked to many other homeschooling parents, writing is not something that I would feel compelled to really push until about middle school or even high school, at least not in the sense of reports, research papers and things of that nature. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t begin working on the mechanics before then.
First, I would begin with copywork. This article answers many copywork questions. Then, I would move on to dictation somewhere around second or third grade, depending on where the child is with his reading and writing skills. In my opinion, a child should be reading fairly fluently and writing somewhat independently before beginning dictation. Here is a great article explaining dictation.
Once you’re ready to move on to the child writing more independently, I highly recommend setting up a Writer’s Workshop notebook. I also like the grading sheet for the workshop notebook because it helps me to be objective.
Finally, here is a link to information on the writing center that I set up for my kids. It’s more of a “language arts” center, than simply “writing,” but it might contain some helpful information.