I previously wrote about how my children are not avid readers as well as how they struggled with spelling, but the irony of it all is that they loved to write. It did not matter what type of writing assignment they had, they seemed to enjoy the process of putting their thoughts down on paper and sharing it with me and others. They even had their own blogs (on a now defunct blogging platform specifically for kids) where they wrote about their lives as homeschoolers.
So, what do I think helped them develop this passion for writing? I'd like to say that they saw how much I enjoyed it and they wanted to imitate me, but that would probably be stretching it. I think it was that they are extremely imaginative people who found writing to be an avenue for their creativity.
A few things that we did that I hoped encouraged their desire to write were:
- • They kept creative writing journals that they wrote in every day. Each month, I created a writing prompt calendar with a topic to write about each day. This helped prevent the dreaded writer's block and got them thinking about all types of things.
- • I would allow them to select the topic to write about when doing reports for other subjects, as long as it was related to the material they were learning about. They were also given liberty as to how to present their findings in a variety of writing formats. For example, when we were studying the Westward Expansion, my son chose to write about the Pony Express in the form of diary entries from the point of view of an Express Rider.
- • My children were encouraged to not only write thank you notes but also to write letters to family and friends just for the sake of reaching out to them. My daughter had a pen pal in Canada that she met one year while we were on vacation. She, too, was a homeschooler. They wrote to each other well into their teens.
- • We did copywork for every subject. I often let them select (with a little bit of direction) the passage that they would copy. I believed (and still do) that copying the works of others influenced their writing skills, guided them in understanding writing forms, and helped them develop their own writing styles.
- • Every year we would put together a Christmas "newsletter" that included their contributions. They would write short stories and poems and illustrate them.
- • While I did correct the mechanics of their writing, I focused more on the content of the writing. Many times, the content led to more discussion and research about the topic and helped them gain a better understanding of something. I also think that by not dwelling fully on the issues with spelling and grammar (there was plenty of that going on elsewhere) they were encouraged to express themselves without a bombardment of critiquing and free to let the creativity flow.
Even though my last homeschooler graduated 7 years ago and for the most part all of their other schoolwork papers have made it to the recycling center, I have kept all of their writing journals (more than 10-years-worth) and many of their other written work. I so enjoy reading through them, seeing how they grew in thought and character as well as how their skills improved.