Saturday, September 17, 2011
Reading and writing are two important skills that children will utilize through out their education. When I started homeschooling I decided I wanted my children to have a strong foundation, just like a house. There was no formal spelling, English, history or science, these were all child led. Reading, writing, math and Bible were the subjects used for a strong foundation.
I started with more formal writing when my children were in fourth grade. Creating a simple sentence and making word changes helped them to see how writing could be improved upon. No, I did not come up with this on my own, I wish I was so clever. We were using Shurley Grammar and it was one of the exercises that would come up from time to time. However, the children loved that, they were given the symbols for each part of grammar for instance A=article adjective, SN=subject noun etc... they were also given instruction for word changes such as one complete word change, two synonym changes and one antonym change. This can easily be accomplished without using Shurley, I usually encourage changing the synonym because it easily changes the sentence.
During fifth grade they would start working on the three point paragraph which I have blogged about in the past. We start slow with no editing, at this point I want them to grasp the concept of what a three point paragraph is and how to write one. During sixth grade it is time to start editing and changing words, teach children early to read their writing out loud. Reading out loud will help them to hear what others will be reading and also hear any mistakes.
Seventh grade we start working on the three point essay sometimes called the five paragraph essay. This is very important because this is the type of writing used during the high school and college years. Once again we are trying to get the student to grasp the concept first, forget about editing. This does not mean that the essay should not flow this is part of the format. Eighth grade is the time I start teaching them to edit. I also want to point out that in seventh grade I encourage them to type it out. We use Microsoft Word for us that is the best program. One thing to remind students to do is to save after a few sentences. I learned this the hard way during my college years. Nothing like working on an essay and then something happens and it is all gone.
While this is how I have done things and it has worked well with all of my children, do what works best for you. Keep in mind though that if a child becomes frustrated or feels overwhelmed it could stifle the desire to write or to write well. Work at your child's own pace the whole point is to help children develop a love for writing, be creative with it and address any issues.
Be aware that medical conditions and special needs can slow the process down. You may also want to read the blog on "Reluctant Writers" at Homeschooling High School there are links with one or two of them discussing some issues with students and writing.
Chateau Meddybemps is a site geared towards the preschool years and includes story starters. I would only use these if the child shows a great interest in telling stories.
Literacy Web has an extensive list of sites for writing.
LD Online is geared towards LD and other special needs however, there is some great suggestions here to encourage a love of writing in young children.
WriteShop offers an article on the topic along with some suggestions for early writing.
TLC has some fun and interesting writing ideas for the young.
Fun English Games has simple games which teach important ski