Saturday, January 10, 2015

Homeschooling and Writing

Spilling Ink

I thought I'd share some thoughts about writing class in our homeschool.  Writing is something that we've struggled with every year, not from lack of ability, but from an inability to stick with any one writing course.  They all have their shortcomings, the biggest of which is the sheer amount of actual writing that is required!  Nobody here wants to actually have to write a page long paper about elephants, especially when writing more than three sentences cramps their frail little hands!

I exaggerate a bit, but it ended up being the subject that all of us despise the most.  My kids will claim they hate math, but I love it and I don't believe them anyway.  Grammar has always been a thorn in their sides, but we use a course that the kids can read and complete on their own, so it's never bothered me.  But writing!  Shwew!  That's always been too much work for me and too much work for them!

Thus began 8th grade for Jack and 6th grade for Ginny.  And I had to try to come up with a new idea!

Ginny has been writing a book for a while, so I figured, why not let her work on her book and call it writing?  I purchased a couple of books for young writers to go along with it and told her to spend 3ish hours a week reading about writing and working on her book.  After half a year, she has not finished her book, but has started another one!  And she really has enjoyed the writing books.  Much more than I thought she would.  Spilling Ink by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer was the first book she read.  She shared entertaining passages with me and tricks about writing that she'd learned.

Rip the Page!

Rip the Page! by Karen Benke has also been a success!  There are writing prompts of some sort in the chapters that Ginny has been diligently filling in.  She also shared parts of this book with me.  She is eager to read her writing books and eager to sit down and write.  I'm not sure she actually accomplishes too much, but that's all in the life of the writer, as we learned from this video...

Definitely preview this before sharing with your's not bad, but it might not be for all families.  We thought it was hilarious though!  And you could easily rename this video "A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler named Jack".

Banish Boring Words!

The last book that I bought for Ginny's writing "class" was this one called Banish Boring Words! by Leilon Shelton.  It's more of a reference book with lists of synonyms to juice up your writing.

The key for me was that this writing class could be totally hands off.  So I haven't read any of these books and Ginny has banned me from looking at Rip the Page! with her written bits in it (and I will respect her writing privacy.)  I cannot recommend these books personally, but Ginny certainly seems to enjoy them.  And I do recommend breaking away, if you dare, and letting your kids enjoy the freedom to create written words of their own, in their own time, and in their own way.

Excellence in Literature

Caveat:  Jack is on the cusp of high school and can't play around anymore.  He is using Introduction to Literature from Janice Campbell this year as a Literature/Writing course.  Having something specific to write about (instead of just mongooses) is helpful, but there is still some feet dragging around here.  Jack has now written several essays, and he is reading some top notch literature!  So it's a good course and we are definitely getting something out of it.  (And I mean we, because I am reading it all too.)

So sometimes you need a serious writing course, and sometimes you don't.  The best thing about homeschooling is getting to choose what your child needs when he needs it.  If you can figure out what that is! 

Now to bring all this back to can find some nice literary word searches at tlsbooks like the one below.


And Fun Trivia has quite a lot of online literary crossword puzzles.  Slide a nice literary puzzle in after your kids have finished reading a book and test their comprehension...or just have some fun!

Enjoy your writing (and reading) journey!

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