The following post is from Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers:
We’ve used a variety of writing centers in our home over the last 11+ years of homeschooling. Many people think of writing centers as something for elementary-aged students, but they can actually be effective for middle school, high school, and beyond. While their style may change, the basic components of a good writing center will remain the same.
What tools make up a writing center?
No matter your kids’ ages, their writing center needs to include age-appropriate reference tools, such as a dictionary and a thesaurus. Access to a set of encyclopedias, either physical or online, is also helpful. For older students, you may want to include style-guides or grammar reference books.
A good writing center needs to be well-stocked with all the supplies your students need for composing – pencils and paper are the bare minimums. For younger students, I always liked to have a variety of papers – different line sizes and paper with fun pictures or space for illustrations, and things of that nature.
For an older student, supplies may include access to a laptop or computer, a printer, and printer paper.
One purpose of a writing center is to provide the student with the tools he needs for the physical act of writing so that he can focus on the creative aspect of composing. To that end, you’ll want to make sure your child’s writing center includes age-appropriate resources.
For younger students, this might include printables with reminders about types of punctuation, the 5W’s, or the structure of a paragraph. You may also want to include a word wall so students don’t lose their creative train of thought trying to remember spelling rules.
Older students may need a reference sheet for the basic rules of writing research papers. For all ages, you might consider poetry books, journaling ideas, magazine photos (as story starters), or a list of writing prompts.
It’s important that students learn to self-edit. Colored pens or pencils are helpful for marking spelling, grammar, and capitalization errors. They can also be used to underline verbs or descriptive words so students can use a thesaurus to find stronger, more descriptive words.
Where do you put a writing center?
Dedicated writing centers
Writing centers can be as elaborate or as simple as you care to make them. If you have space in your home, you may want to set up a designated area for a writing center. This will probably include a desk, chair, good lighting, and shelf space for reference tools and supplies.
You’ll probably also want to include a bulletin board for printable resources, such as a word wall.
Mobile writing centers
If you don’t have space for a permanent writing center, making a mobile version is fairly simple. We used to use a tri-fold presentation board for ours. That made a great place for the printables which might have hung on a bulletin board. Reference tools can be stored in a plastic tote, a milk crate, or a tote bag.
You can even use a good sized three-ring binder with a zip-up pencil pouch. We have done this, too, and included a simple, three-hole punched thesaurus, along with printable pages for a student-created glossary.
Mobile writing centers are great for those with limited space, but they’re also a great solution for families who have outside classes and commitments and can’t always be home for school.
While the details of a writing center will change as the student grows, the basic purpose remains the same for all writers, regardless of age – to provide the tools needed to get about the business of putting thoughts on papers while eliminating as many hurdles as possible.
Have you used writing centers in your homeschool? What tips would you add?
|Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, is a homeschooling mom to three amazing kids and wife to her unbelievably supportive husband. She enjoys photography, running, and drinking sweet tea. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.|
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