From the moment a child can pick up a crayon, writing skills are being learned. Writing skills are easy to master for some children; however, many children need encouragement and practice to become proficient at writing. Most homeschool studies include lessons that encourage writing skills, especially when homeschooling younger children. To encourage that learning, homeschoolers can use a variety of interesting lessons that keep the process fresh and engaging day after day.
Often associated with the Charlotte Mason approach of homeschooling, copywork is just as it says – copying work. Children are given a phrase or passage to copy word for word. Children are encouraged to focus on capitalization, punctuation and grammar. The theory is that when children see how words are formed into a proper paragraph or phrase, they will learn to mimic correct writing skills.
Work to be copied can be provided from a variety of sources including books, songs, encyclopedias or even the Bible. The key is to keep the work engaging so that children will enjoy what they are copying. For young children, short nursery rhymes are fun to copy while older children may like to copy poetry or a paragraph from their favorite book. To avoid copywork burnout, keep the lessons short and interesting.
With the Internet, texting and cell phones, writing formal letters has become a thing of the past. Even with all of this technology, it’s important that children learn how to write formal letters. Writing letters is another way to incorporate writing skills into lessons.
Children can write letters to anyone – their relatives or even a friend that lives down the street. Many homeschooling parents involve their children with pen pals who are fellow homeschooled children. Beyond people you know, children can be encouraged to write a letter to a local congressman, soldiers deployed overseas or even the President of the United States.
Parents can assign lessons that encourage writing skills such as book reports or a writing paper on a particular topic being studied. To keep this type of lesson stimulating, ask children to draw a picture that correlates with the writing assignment. Including an art project that coincides with the writing assignment can also prevent the lesson from becoming dull.
Children love to tell tales. What better way to encourage writing skills than to let a child write a fantasy story. The story can come from their own imagination or parents can create a topic and ask their child to finish the story. Use ideas that will interest your child. If your child loves dinosaurs, then ask him or her “If I had a pet dinosaur, I….” – then ask your child to finish the sentence. Move on to the next sentence, “I would feed my pet dinosaur…..”, again, ask your child to finish the sentence. To avoid writing burnout, you can write the first part of the sentence and ask your child to complete it.
Combining both writing skills and language arts, Mad Libs are a form of word games where children are given a partial sentence and they must fill in the blank. There are various free Mad Libs printables available online. The “blank” word asked for may be a person or a thing, for example. Once the blanks are filled, children have created a short story or a line that may or may not make sense. Children love Mad Libs, and they make learning, reading and writing fun.