The following post is from contributing writer Demetria Zinga of Christian Homeschool Moms.
Writing hasn’t always been an easy feat in our homeschool, and we’ve had our share of struggles with sticking it out. What I’ve found is although narrative and expository writing has its place, there is nothing like a little foot-loose freedom of creative writing.
Since kicking our writing experiences up a notch was my final goal, I figure- why not start with a type of writing that will give my daughter limitless opportunities to express herself?
I should add that my daughter is in sixth grade this year. She began reading pretty young (somewhere around her fourth birthday). We were so excited about the fact that she was such a voracious reader throughout the years that I’ve hardly turned the script and given her opportunities to not only read, but dive into writing as well.
Needless to say, we are dealing with three years (since third grade) of off-again-on-again writing experiences that were mostly hit and miss.
We’ve since plugged into a few good writing curricula such as the Institute for Excellence in Writing and Writing Rhetoric, which is really taking the difficulty out of teaching for me. I share more about our experiences with these curriculum plus some nuts and bolts of teaching writing on my podcast about helping reluctant writers.
Learning the different writing styles and conventions is one thing; however, enjoying writing as a pastime is another. Using Pinterest and the library as my muse and mind-mapping tool, I’ve gathered some ideas to share with you about helping your child to enjoy writing as a pastime.
Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way to get your kids writing, not to mention therapeutic. A private place where a child can write down his thoughts without fear of intrusion can be life-changing for kids.
I started keeping a diary when I was around nine and, although I lost most of them due to our many military moves, I still have my diaries from sixth grade through high school, college, and married life with kids! I can’t tell you how amazingly therapeutic and hilarious it is to go back and read my thoughts from high school! Scary, but funny all the same.
Today I journal my way through my personal traumas and joys of life as a wife and mom and my relationship with God. Journaling keeps me centered and gives me hope, and sometimes even solutions as I write my way through my situations.
I always imagine that my children will one day enjoy journaling, so we buy them as presents for birthdays and Christmas, and just keep encouraging them to write.
Besides giving kids the flexibility to write in their personal journals, you could also have them create journals for specific subjects. For example, for health and nutrition studies you could have your child keep track of what he eats for an entire week. For science, he could journal the growth of a plant or the transition of a butterfly in a field journal.
Use a writing prompt jar
Kids love to write what they’re interested in. Fun past times, favorite vacations, favorite movies or games- you name it. If they’re interested enough, you can probably convince them to write about it much quicker than if you were to pick a topic straight from the World Book Encyclopedia. The idea for reluctant writers is to get them writing however you can. You can find writing prompts from books like The Creative Teacher or websites like Scholastic.com , CanTeach, or Enchanted Learning.
Type up writing prompts, cut them out, and slip them into an empty mason jar. (You could also just use index cards.) Place them in a jar. Now the fun part for kids is getting to select a writing prompt from the jar. Whatever they choose is what they write about that day.
For younger kids, you could use pictures, such as a teddy bear, a shovel, a swing set, a car, etc. Whichever picture your child retrieves from the jar is what he’ll write about. If he’s too young to write, you could have him narrate the story while you copy it down for him.
We use the narration technique for my 6 year old often. (By the way, the My Big Book by Barker Creek is a great tool for doing narrations with younger kids!)
If you enjoy notebooking as a tool for your homeschooling, you’ll enjoy the plethora of printables and worksheets with cross-word puzzles, fill-in-the blanks, and copywork activities that kids may enjoy doing.
I especially enjoy having my daughter complete copywork pages because it takes the load off when she’s not in a mood for fishing up ideas for a creative writing piece, yet it gives her practice just writing good content.
A few great places to start for copywork pages and language arts printables are Mama’s Learning Corner, The Notebooking Fairy, Notebooking Pages, Simply Charlotte Mason, Enchanted Learning, and Queen’s Learning Supplies.
Have your child think of a fun topic centered around a recent family event, such as a vacation, outing, or field trip, and gather facts using the 5 W’s of journalism (who, what, when, where, and how). He could create a newsletter, or with the help of the entire family, a full newspaper complete with comics, recipes, and letters to the editor.
There are a myriad of ways to make writing fun, and the more I dig into Pinterest, the more ideas come to mind! Using a great book such as Writing Inc. as a spine, you could come up with all sorts of fun activities to support your child’s writing journey. At least, that’s my personal goal this year for my kids.
What sorts of writing activities do your children enjoy most? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Demetria is a blogging, homeschooling mom of two. She loves motivating homeschool moms to keep on the journey of home education. You can find her blogging, designing, and podcasting at Christian Homeschool Moms and MomZest.com.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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