2/12/14

Homeschool Teaching Nemesis: Writing

Blogging is a form of writing.  I blog therefore I write.  Right?  I love reading.  I even have a reading goal for 2014 that is nearly double what I read in 2013 (sounds impressive but really I am aiming for 40 books).  I’ve been told that to be a good writer you should be a good reader. I don’t know. I’m not sure that my love of reading has helped my writing.

But what about teaching writing? Does a love of reading and a desire to write help with teaching writing? Teaching writing is my nemesis; it is the subject that I struggle with the most to teach. I find that odd because I love grammar. I love editing. I love reading. I can teach grammar.  I can teach reading. I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around teaching someone to write.

Teaching Writing

I have lost track of the number of books I have read and the number of curricula we’ve tried over the years to help me teach my daughters to write. All of these materials had two things in common:

  • Read aloud to your child every day
  • Write every day

The, first one was easy. Reading aloud everyday was one of the things we did consistently. It helps that we used Sonlight, a literature-based history program. (To be fair to Sonlight they offer more than just history but to me I always think of history.)

I had a love/hate relationship with Sonlight’s Language Arts program.  I loved the philosophy and theory behind the program.  I hated the writing instruction. Write 8 sentences about dirt. I loved that they scheduled research papers in the early years. I hated the lack of instructions. I needed guidance. I needed my hand held.

I first heard about Learning Language Arts through Literature (LLATL) before I had heard of Sonlight and I had determined that I would use LLATL. I loved how it taught spelling, vocabulary and grammar using real literature selections.  This was the same theory and philosophy as Sonlight (both were heavily influenced by the late Ruth Beechick). LLATL felt more structured. But LLATL seemed lacking.  It seemed too easy. I ended up supplementing LLATL with additional vocabulary, spelling and grammar work.

I tried something called Writing Power. Yes by the same author as Spelling Power. I also looked at, but never used, Understanding Writing by Susan Bradrick. I did pull one idea from her material: letter writing. Neither of these two programs really gave me what I needed to be comfortable teaching writing. I liked the ideas and the philosophy but they didn’t fit my style.

Other writing programs we used have included WriteShop, Institute for Excellence In Writing (Teaching Writing Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive)  Essentials of Writing Grade 11 by Matthew Stephens, and Writing Fiction in High School by Sharon Watson. Each of these programs are excellent and have helped me to feel more confident that even if I feel I can’t teach writing, I can at least have someone else to hold my hand and help me out.

I especially love the materials we’ve used that are published by Institute for Excellence In Writing.  We love Andrew Pudewa. Teaching Writing Structure and Style saved my sanity. Finally I had a program that focused on teaching writing. A program that taught me how to teach writing.  I used Student Writing Intensive C with BooBear and Turtlegirl.  I’ve been using Student Writing Intensive B with Tailorbear. Maybe if I’d discovered IEW when I first started to home educate, I wouldn’t have struggled so much with teaching it.

I still don’t think I can really teach writing but at least I’ve found ways to make sure my girls learn how to write well.

Do you home school?  Do you struggle with teaching a particular subject?  Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog for this week’s Blog Carnival and see what my team mates share about their struggles.

3 comments:

  1. We are IEW fans over here, but we go really, really slowly. I can sit down and write a blog post so very quickly, but that doesn't seem to have passed on to my kiddos!

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  2. my son comes up with his ideas well.. but at this stage getting them down on paper takes more time.

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  3. I actually enjoy teaching writing, but my youngest son doesn't enjoy it nearly as much as I do. We have gotten a lot of use from the Student Writing Intensive. It's great!

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