Worrying About Writing
© Beverley Paine
Many homeschooling parents worry about their children's writing skills. I have always found it useful to consider exactly what it is I am not happy about. Is it the volume of work produced - perhaps am I comparing it with perceived school student outputs? Or is it the quality of scribing - have I checked out my child's fine motor skills - is the child able to use scissors well, make fiddly models, draw well, etc? Or maybe it is the content - the spelling, punctuation, sentence structure? Perhaps it is the child's motivation or lack of motivation to write. Isolating the exact cause for concern can help to provide solutions.
I then ask myself if my expectations of what my child can do are realistic. Often they are based on a comparison with other children, usually of a similar age. Sometimes I am comparing the child to my own remembered abilities of the same age. I ask if my expectations take into account my child's different learning styles and needs. I recognise children all learn differently. Perhaps I am not providing support for all the ways my child prefers to learn. Perhaps I am tailoring his or her activities to how I preferred to learn or was taught at his or her age.
Having pinpointed my concerns and examined some of the reasons I then think of ways I can make improvements, without imposing unhappy, unwanted or pointless 'busy-work' exercises in writing. Every writing task I set must have meaning in my child's life, and I take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
If I am doing some cooking I let Thomas devise his own recipes then help him record them in his own cookbook, sometimes before, sometimes during and sometimes afterwards. We write lots of lists whenever possible; birthday lists, shopping lists, holiday packing lists. Letters are encouraged, although cards and postcards are less threatening for him to write. And I often get the kids to do some writing for me, sometimes just a phone number and address, a note or two when my hands are dirty, addresses on the newsletters, anything for writing practice! It all helps...
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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