Inspiring Your Budding Writer!
Contributed by Elizabeth Dardes
Creating a home environment that embraces, celebrates, and encourages writing and creativity is the spark all parents want to ignite for their children. Keeping paper and pencil out and at the ready is a simple way to begin. Writing of any kind should be fostered. Letter writing, to-do lists, grocery lists, summer activities, schedules, what to pack for vacation, and thank you notes all hand-written are wonderful writing opportunities! Ami at walkingbytheway.com has many creative ideas to instill the joy and practice of writing. Children should be comfortable and familiar with writing; and they will be, if they do it and see parents doing it every day. Although to write well, one needs structure, the comfort, and joy of writing comes from familiarization and practice, which leads to confidence! While a casual, critique-free attitude is important in getting young writers started, a more formal, structured format is needed as writers progress. This is why reading aloud to children is so vital. It allows children to hear what “sounds” proper and correct. Read the classics. Give students examples of well-written text. Read short essays by esteemed and respected classical writers. Students need to know what quality writing is. Read aloud a poor piece of writing and compare it to quality. Ask students to explain the differences. You won’t have to give them the answers to such questions. They will know poor writing!
“Just Write!” ………….. Structure
Structure is a fascinating concept. Few people are successful without it. It functions as a map for every task attempted. Writing is one of these tasks. Without structure, writing is a beast. The first phase of writing can be wild, disorganized, and even incomprehensible, but the following phases of structure can result in a masterpiece. One would not expect someone to bake a cake without a recipe or build a house without a house plan. Writing is the same way. Once one learns the framework of the task, practices over time, and studies the masters of the art, their creativity, and freedom of expression follow. This breaking of the rules, so to speak, or this expression of creativity comes from the confidence one finally develops. But it all starts with structure. The essential tools for teaching students how to write effectively are all presented within this one fascination. The lessons below start in first grade and continue through high school. Most students begin writing narratives and expository essays in ninth and tenth grades with compare/contrast and argumentative essays from the tenth grade through college. It is a scaffolding process that takes years with grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary intertwined throughout until matriculation. A good English teacher still uses grammar books and worksheets. Indeed, a college student, skilled worker, unskilled worker, self-taught artist, and the military hero should be able to identify a noun. Applying the Writing Process and the Five-Paragraph Essay are the two most essential lessons every student needs in order to write proficiently.
Homeschool Writing Lesson 1 -Teach students the five traditional steps to the writing process.
The five steps should be colorfully displayed in every classroom until high school graduation.
The Writing Process
1. Pre-write Just Write! -Write any ideas, thoughts, topics, or questions that come to
mind. Brainstorm and organize. Brainstorming worksheets
can be found online.
2. Draft or Sloppy Copy- The beginning of organizing. Research and outline the
information for the topic. Put the information in order.
3. Revise Rework and reorganize. Rearrange, remove, replace, and add
the information and details.
4. Edit Review and proofread sentence structure, transition words,
grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
5. Reflect and Share Final copy for publishing (handing in)
Start small by making every student an author/publisher.
One of the best sites for The Writing Process is liferichpublishing.com.
Homeschool Writing Lesson 2 – Teach the five-paragraph essay.
There are a million examples of this online. Almost every middle school language arts teacher has contributed to this lesson plan. Some examples are so busy and scribble-scrabbled with text, that I would rather drive through LA without Google Maps than read or even attempt to teach them. The simpler the better.
Five Paragraph Essay
Introductory Paragraph Riveting, descriptive, interesting, introduction with a “Hook” to reel readers in that leads to a structured and purposed thesis statement with three points.
Body 1-3 Point one of the thesis statement is body 1, point two is body two, and so on with specific supporting details, as well as transitional phrases for structure.
Concluding Paragraph A summary of what the reader can take away from the essay that circled back to the introductory paragraph. A thought from the first paragraph that wraps the essay up as a whole.
A clean and simple site to follow is layers-of-learning.com It is also a good idea to model the steps. Write an essay with your student. Write one together, then write one each following the rules. Critique both together.
Parents will also benefit from reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott for an understanding of the importance of one step at a time.
Go slowly, make it
Elizabeth Emans Dardes