• Writing Prompts are a Valuable Homeschool Tool

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    Use writing prompts to get those reluctant writers writing. It really works!


    So, your homeschool is buzzing along through lower grades, things are going smoothly. Your kids bump up to middle school level and suddenly writing is required. More than a few sentences or a silly story. Actual writing. Prep for high school and eventually college. If you have a reluctant writer as I did, this turns a simple task into a WWE match. Seriously. The main homeschool fight on a daily basis with my youngest was over writing.

    Surviving the writing journey.

    He is a very literal thinker. Write a story about going to the store and buying milk, results in; I walked to the store. I bought milk. I walked home. *sigh Ok, what did you do in between? What did you see? Who was at the store? How did you pay? Did you talk to anyone? You need to elaborate. Which usually resulted in a screaming WHAT? You didnít say that. You said write going to the store to get milk. I did, but... And continue this conversation for at least 15 more minutes, to which he would usually just get told to do his other work and I let it drop. I was tired of the battles. Was that good parenting? Probably not, at the time, but pick your battles. And in the meantime, work on some solutions that take it out of MY hands and put the writing back in his hands. He still has to do it, but has some control over it. Here is how I accomplished that.


    1. I signed him up for a Time4Writing course for middle schoolers. I was done being the teacher, I was done with the fights, I was done. He now has to report to someone else, he has to do the work or get a failing grade. And honestly, he has to learn how to write properly. He wants to go onto college and while he doesnít need to be able to write an award-winning novel, he does need to know how to write papers that can be turned in for grades. And do them well enough to pass.
    2. I decided he would do writing for me. Period. I wasnít requiring a lot. We bought a journal. I bought a jar (you can reuse one from home if you have something lying around), and I bought some cute scrapbook paper that was colorful on one side, plain white on the other. You do not have to do this. You can use any type of paper. I was just trying to make it more kid-friendly and fun vs. doing the writing. Then I started typing. What was he interested in? What did he like? What video games is he playing? After a little research, I was able to get some ideas and then created writing prompts based on his current interests. Cut them out, folded them up and filled the jar. He has to choose 1 per day and write at least 1 paragraph based on the prompt and try to be colorful in his writing, vs. his normal literal. I created one for his brother as well, based on his interests. Now, this was a homeschool thing, not just my youngest feeling like HE was being punished.
    3. We worked out a deal with his Grandma (a retired teacher who totally supports our homeschooling decision, yay Grandma!) where they would email daily. She created different things to write about daily and I wrote up the schedule so they could not forget.


    • Monday- Tell Grandma about your weekend. Must be at least 3 sentences. Include 1 good thing and 1 bad thing.
    • Tuesday - Tell Grandma a joke.
    • Wednesday - Tell Grandma a fact. They had to find something, research it and then explain it to her in an email.
    • Thursday - Spelling words. Each had to be used in a sentence.
    • Friday - No email as we did not homeschool Fridays. She would reply back to them, which usually resulted in more writing because you cannot ignore your Grandma! LOL


    After all this, did my son become a writer? No. Did he learn to write? Yes! Does he enjoy writing? No. But can he do it when required? Yes. Do I feel like this is a homeschool win or fail? I consider it a win. I did not expect him to LOVE writing, I did not expect him to become a writer, I did not expect him to be thrilled with it. He was given skills he needed to move on with his life and be successful enough to homeschool through high school and move on and attend college if he so desired. That is a homeschool win.

    Other suggestions instead of the paper slips in the jar:

    • Using tongue depressors and writing prompts on them, place them written side down in the jar.
    • There are writing dice that you can use and are really fun to come up with quirky stories.
    • Have them write a story together, timed. Each gets 2 minutes (use a sand timer out of a game or a tooth-brushing timer) to add to the story. Then read it aloud as a family.


    What has been your biggest homeschool challenge so far? Shoot me an email about it, [email protected] and as always, if you have any questions or concerns about homeschooling, OR just need someone to talk to, email me or send me a PM via SecularHomeschool.com.
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