4 Moms: teaching our children to write

4 Moms, 35 Kids

Since the 4 of us are bloggers, you might think this part was easy.  We’re natural writers, right?  So writing must come easily to our children as well.

Can you feel the sarcasm dripping like honey from Pooh’s bee tree?

First of all, writing doesn’t come easily to me.  I remember asking for more writing work in school because it was one subject that I never thought I was really good at.  I knew all the technicals of style and composition, and I got good grades.  I was good enough, but never felt that I really had any spark in my style.

After 6 years as a blogger, I have to admit I still often feel that way.  You know that funny lady that can make a bad day sound so hilarious you almost wish you had the same day?  That’s not me.  She may live in my head, but we don’t see each other often.  I’m the quiet, boring woman who gives an amused little snort at the funniest parts of the movie when everyone in the room is falling on the floor with laughter.  I’m always a little surprised when I review old posts on my blog.  I wrote that?  Hey, I’m good!

Learning to write takes a thorough knowledge of the technicals, followed by lots of practice.  It’s a long process, never mastered but always improving – if you continue to work on it.

I learned the technicals by taking a few short writing courses and writing endless essays for my dad.  I gained more practice writing letters to friends and family and to one young man who initially had very little interest in returning them.   Later, I practiced even more by joining the internet world in this crazy thing called blogging.

Our children have followed similar paths, each in her own way.  Some really do have a spark in their style.  They may not have mastered the technicals entirely, but you really could say writing comes naturally to them.  Even so, they have work to do.  Talent may give them the style that some of us must work so hard to gain, but they still have to work to master the basics.

I just spent a long time not answering the question, didn’t I?  But I am a homeschool graduate myself, and I think I am one example of an answer to this question.  My children are another.

We teach our children to write first by teaching them to read.  They are encouraged to read a lot.  We try to steer them toward truly good writing: literary classics and more books by modern masters of the written word.  We love to collect books and have built up a rather respectable library over the years.

Filling their heads with good examples of great literature gives them a solid start in learning to write.  I have always been fascinated at how easy it  can be to deduce a child’s current favorite author by the evolution of her writing style.

Over the years, we have also required them to write something daily.  It may be a journal entry, a letter, a blog post, or a few paragraphs on an assigned topic.  It may be a short story, summary of a book they read recently, or a poem.  It may be copywork for the younger ones.  This met with strong resistance at first, but they quickly adjusted and learned that it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.  The more regularly we required this, the better they did.

But a thorough mastery of the basics really does build both confidence and competence, and right now we have enrolled Kaitlyn and Lydia in an online interactive essay class with a live teacher.  I mentioned this in another post, and after a few more weeks they are as challenged and inspired as ever.  I know that I could probably do for them what he is doing if I took the time to create or follow a course, but I haven’t done it in such a structured way yet and it’s helpful for me to see his friendly critiques and praise of their work as well.  He does an impressive job of balancing the two.  It’s also helpful that they can see the other students’ work and the instructor’s notes on their work as well for comparison.  It doesn’t hurt that he is funny, and has quoted The Princess Bride and other family favorites in his lectures.

Kaitlyn is working on a post that details how the class works and what she likes best about it, so watch for that soon and have your questions ready for her!

How have you taught your children to write compositions and essays?

The other moms are talking about it today, too.
  • Smockity Frocks
  • Common Room
  • Raising Olives

  • Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    • March 8 – (food related topic)
    • March 15 – How to save memories without being overrun

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

     

    Comments

    1. I am currently using “Understanding Writing” by Susan Bradrick and…

      LOVE IT!! So does our 13 year old boy. Some of his writing is letters and notes, some are notebooking pages.

      This actually teaches HOW to write, which is THE missing element in other writing curriculum.

      The bonus with this is the very biblical, practical child training sprinkled within the pages! I consider this one of my true “curriculum treasures”!!
      Blessings, ~Mrs. R

    2. We have used Jensen’s writing curriculum. It is every bit as wonderful as his grammar and vocabulary books. I remember two big term papers in particular that I had to write at school years ago. Putting each paper together would have been much easier and made more sense as to the how-tos had I been taught using it. I never really learned the art of the ‘paragraph’. I’m learning now as I teach my children. It’s a breeze! Of course, this is one long paragraph…maybe it should have been two or three?

    3. Elizabeth K. says:

      My husband is a writer (shameless blog plug alert: http://www.mrhawthornsgarden.com/blog.html) and since he’s the stay-at-home who homeschools the kids, I expect GREAT things from them in this subject (granted, the kids are only 6, 4, and 1, but whatever…) Seriously, though, what you wrote about them reading good books is so crucial, in my opinion. As is a SERIOUS grasp on English grammar (I think A Beka curriculum is so good for this).

      And my husband also teaches composition at the local college, and let me tell you, it’s a sad thing to read many of their papers. One guy had been in the military for 20 years and hadn’t written a complete sentence in all that time – according to him, it was all bullet points and powerpoint slides!

    Don't just think it: say it!

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