*This post contains affiliate links to a curriculum we use in our home school. See disclosure policy for full details.
Are you and your kids tired of the same old writing drills?
Do your homeschool bookshelves house more than three types of writing curriculum?
Writing, even if you feel you are quite good at it yourself, can be one of those subjects you find hard to teach in your homeschool.
Because, we tend to automatically recall and implement techniques from when we were in school.
Think back to all the creative writing assignments, ugh!
I enjoyed using my imagination, but often felt too much pressure when it came time to writing it all down. Now that I have matured, I recognize that I didn’t dislike writing; I just felt stifled. Stifled by correct grammar, spelling, and use of literary concepts that felt cold and mechanical.
All the excitement and fun of my story was held hostage to criteria and outlines; and that dreaded red pen.
Yes, we need to learn the mechanics of writing, but I also believe we need to enjoy the process. Writing is something we all use every single day and it shouldn’t be something we dread doing.
So, how can we make some of those writing curricula work for us?
How can we make writing more exciting for our kids?
We need to get creative and not be weighed down by the curriculum. We need to explore and read great literature to them.
Consider addressing writing lessons in a personal, fun and/or real way. Find a way to have your child connect to what they want to write.
Make it Fun!
Any chance I get, I use books and novels to drive home my point about certain literary devices. No pens, no paper; just me, my kids and books!
As and example, the other day we were discussing how we need to think of our readers. How can we engage them and make them want to read what we write? How do we hook them?
Instead of pulling out our curriculum, which does discuss and teach this through examples and practice, I decided to change things up. I zipped around our house and pulled a book off every shelf, and added the library books we just brought home.
I read the opening paragraph or two from every book. We discussed it, I encouraged them to share with me what they really thought, in their own words! They need to know they can express their opinion, so I asked them questions like:
- What do you know so far?
- Does it capture you?
- Can you guess what the book will be about?
- Do you want to read more?
- What intrigues you, what do you want answered?
- Did it take you to another place?
- Could you understand the vocabulary?
- How long do you think it will take before you are captivated enough to keep reading?
- Do you like it?
- Did your imagination kick in?
- Which of your senses were engaged?
(In case you are wondering, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White won by a landslide!)
Make It Personal!
What stories and books really connect with your kids? It can be a new novel or something you’ve read before and want to re-visit. As you read use sticky tabs to mark passages of text to discuss or dissect later. Ask lots of questions and get a discussion going.
- What do you think about this character?
- Who do you think the hero of the story is?
- Would you have done the same thing?
- Is this person being a good friend?
- Do you see yourself in any of these characters?
- How would you have handled this situation?
- When is it right to … or is it wrong?
- Can you picture yourself in this setting?
- What do you think they feel right now?
- Can you think of a situation in real life that could relate?
- Imagine if the author didn’t use these exciting descriptive sentences, would you still like the book?
Make it Real!
Use real writing examples from novels they love and passages that take your breath away or send you off to some far off land. Talk about why it captures your child’s imagination the way it does. Use it as copywork and take the time to point out some literary devices the author is using; or highlight the different clauses within that particular paragraph.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had a copywork journal full of passages from great novels or poems? Not a novel or poem that I love or you love, but one your child loves and identifies with!
This could be a great keepsake as well; all the while teaching them something about good writing practice. By the time they graduate they could have a little portfolio of the novels they read and loved over the years; with passages that meant something to them at that time in their life.
By diving deeper into the novels we read together, it provides us with an opportunity to learn much more about ourselves. It also helps us to understand what good writing is and what it can become for us. It helps us to discover our writing voices.
Take the opportunity to have fun with words, explore and stretch your imagination! Help your kids fall in love with writing not because it is part of a curriculum, but because beyond it being an essential skill, it is a beautiful way to communicate.
Don’t be afraid to use a curriculum, but do be wary of becoming a slave to your writing curriculum.
Take a detour, step outside the box from time to time; push the curriculum aside, and just fall in love with great writers!
If you want more ideas on how to have discussions or ways to engage your learners with process questions check out “How I Teach Critical Thinking in Our Homeschool”
Want to know what great books we have been Reading? Here is some of our Reading List.
This post is part of a “How to Teach Without a Curriculum” link up at iHomeschool Network
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