Help for the Reluctant Homeschool Writer

help_for_the_reluctant_homeschool_writerI can already hear it coming. First, it will start with a shocked expression taking over her face. This will be followed up by a glare; then a deep breath; and then she will attempt to talk me out of the assignment… My oldest daughter loves to write; really, she does! Furthermore, she’s good at it. She has a way with words; is able to paint a vivid picture using just a few short sentences and lots of heart. Give her free time to write and she’s a happy camper. Ask her to write a report and… well, just see the sentences above.

While I would love to toss those pesky reports into the circulatory file (trash bin), she’s really at an age where it cannot be avoided. High school is ever-present and reports seem to be the thing. Sure, I could let her off, but would that really benefit her? If she plans to continue her writing career, she might want to expand her horizons beyond story telling. If she plans to attend college (which she does), she needs to be able to write a research paper.

Whether or not our children plan to be writers or attend college – we understand not all children are called to this path – teaching our children to write is an important life skill. Why? Our children need to learn the fine art of language. They need to learn how to construct a great sentence, put thoughts together into paragraphs, and connect those paragraphs to form an argument.

Perhaps you have a reluctant writer, as we do, or are unsure of where to start in the writing process? Here are a few tips and hints we’ve learned to inspire our little writers:

Start Early – Don’t wait until high school to have your children begin the writing process. make creative writing and reports a fun part of learning as soon they are ready.

Start Small – Don’t start the writing process off with a five-page research paper. Start off with little assignments. Ask your student to construct just a few great sentences and build from there.

Keep it Simple – Once your student has the concept of great sentences down, consider having them write small papers. Teach them how to construct an opening statement, the body of their paper, and then a closing statement. It doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to have all the essential components and focus on one main point.

Shake Things Up – Don’t have your student write the same type of report each time; this can quickly become boring. What kind of reports might we look for?

  • Cause and Effect
  • Descriptive
  • Argumentative
  • Definition
  • Narrative
  • Critical
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Process

Topsy Turvy – Doesn’t that sound fun? If your child balks at the notion of writing a two page report or even a 1,000 word report, consider making it a challenge. Turn your child’s perspective around and have them look at the assignment from an entirely new angle. Inform you student they cannot use more than 1,000 words to make their point. One word over and they start losing points. It changes things, doesn’t it?

Make a Point – While all papers should have a main point, not all papers mean something to your student. However, they should! Pick the type of paper your child should write for this assignment, but let them choose the topic. They might want to argue for why Legos are better than MegaBlocks. They might wish to explain what Minecraft is. It doesn’t matter what the subject of the paper is, only that they learn to write well. As they mature, so will the topics and assignments.

Join the Fun – One year, my daughter was having a particularly hard time gaining inspiration for a paper. To help her out, my husband and I joined the fun. Each of us turned in a paper on the same topic! It was fun and a great learning experience. We didn’t do this each time she had an assignment, but it helped.

For whatever reason, speech and writing seem to be the two least favorite assignments of most students. Perhaps, with a little effort and enthusiasm on our behalf, our children will learn to not only appreciate the art of writing, but enjoy it. Writing can be lots of fun!

“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”
~ Galatians 6:11

Your Turn!: Are you a writer? Share your tips with our homeschooling families on how to encourage a love of writing!

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2 thoughts on “Help for the Reluctant Homeschool Writer

  1. I would consider myself a reader but not really a writer. I do enjoy writing but I find my brain if full of ideas, thoughts and opinions are making it difficult to process or even to put down on paper. I did start to write again on my blog, an attempt to use it as a way to process the ever buzzing brain .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always loved writing and am both traditionally and self-published. I also taught English at the college level for a number of years. One piece of wisdom I shared with my students was that they shouldn’t strive for the mythical “golden draft” (i.e. trying to get your paper perfect in one try). Not only is it unreasonable, it’s essentially impossible as even well-known writers – from Dostoevsky to Tolkien to Rowling – have a record of penning numerous drafts and making a plethora of changes. Thus, it’s okay for a first draft to ramble and contain mistakes and missing details. That’s where revision and editing come in. Many of my students believed they had to make sure everything was right and in place in an essay upon their first writing of it, which puts undue pressure on them. So I made sure to differentiate between drafts and final products. Drafts are supposed to be rough – that’s why we call them rough drafts! 🙂 But they become final products through revision, rework, and editing. You could reassure your children that it’s okay if a first draft of a paper isn’t the best – it’s not supposed to be. Instead, encourage them to get their thoughts down first, then work on polishing everything through revision and editing.

    Another tidbit I shared with my students is that writer’s block is normal and all writers experience it. In fact, I seriously doubt the truthfulness of any writer, whether professional or amateur, who says they never get writer’s block. Writer’s block can’t be avoided but it can be managed. Myself, I usually have a variety of projects (usually two or three) in active status at the same time. That way, if I feel like I’m running into a mental block on one project, I’ll switch to something else. Granted, this works differently when it comes to school papers, so I would encourage my students to work ahead of time on an essay so, should they ever feel stuck, they would have time to sit it aside and focus on a different task. Doing so helps clear the mind so when you do return to what you had been working on, you can approach it with fresh eyes.

    Lastly, inspiration can come from anywhere, so I would tell my students to not close themselves off to any possible sources of ideas. Sometimes a writing project – any writing project – is more like a puzzle than a blueprint. You find yourself piecing ideas together, and it isn’t until you do so that you begin to see the bigger picture. Starting your children off with small assignments is a great way to not only develop grammatical and basic writing skills but also a way for them to see how ideas blossom and build on each other.

    Best of luck to you and your family’s homeschooling endeavors! 🙂


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