Updated: Nov 4, 2019
First off I want to thank you for your patience during this time of our life! We've been in flux and limbo land for the month of July, moved to Kearney the second week of August, spent a week with no WiFi (which is always a blessing in disguise, but is also super frustrating when you're attempting to run an online business) and we are back to business as usual. A better way to say that might be, we are finding our new norm. One of the areas that I'm prepping for is our homeschool classroom. In the home we owned in Kimball, we had three bedrooms where I set one up as our classroom, but now we are renting a two bedroom home where the open concept set up is definitely working in my favor! When it is all said and done, I'll be posting pictures! One of the things you'll see is how I incorporate reading and writing into all subject areas.
One of the most popular questions I receive from my fellow homeschool moms and mothers helping with after school homework is this: how do I overcome the battle that ensues every time we sit down to read and write?
The Simple, Yet Not-So-Simple Answer
I wish the answer were as simple as: DO THIS. Sorry. There are a lot of factors to consider and the main one is this: what does your student enjoy? What your reader enjoys will determine how I counsel you next, but I'll give you an idea of what I did to get my 1st grader (now 2nd grader) excited about writing.
Read what Inspires
My Briella Bean loves octopuses, bats, our miniature rat terrier Marley and a bully breed dog we had named Quigley - a sweet heart that passed away a year ago and broke her little heart. Can you tell she loves animals? I found this poem in one of our silly poetry books about dogs and after reading it over and over again, laughing over it, discussing it, and comparing it to our own dogs, she decided - on her own - to write a silly poem about Marley and Quigley. Read what inspires your child, you'll be surprised by their ideas. Reading inspires writing.
Provide Fun Materials
Brielle loves glitter, flashlights, and rainbow colors. I can definitely work with that! I found glitter pens, spy pens with invisible ink and a flashlight at the end that reveals the hidden message, window markers, and put all these materials in a special basket that can only be used during school. She gets super excited about picking what she is going to use on the writing notebook she chose (that has unicorns and glitter on it).
Find a Memorable Activity
Brielle notices me writing every day, so she decided to get me a journal for Christmas last year. However, it is this crazy sparkly journal that I wasn't sure how to use, but the idea came to me to use it as a pen pal notebook where I write her a message and she writes one back to me. The first time I wrote her a message and put it on her pillow, prompting her to answer some questions about the favorite part of her week - you should have seen her face - she was super excited. It has been a super sweet activity that I hope continues forever. I treasure those sweet little messages from her.
Ideas are the hardest places to start so I rip pages out of old magazines and save a board on Pinterest of pictures, I have a paper that I hand her full of sentence starters (because starting is the hardest thing to do), and every time she begins to write we sing the Shirley Sentence Jingle,
"A sentence, sentence, sentence is complete, complete, complete, when five simple rules it meets, meets, meets: has a subject, subject, subject, and a verb, verb, verb, and it makes sense, sense, sense with every word, word, word. Has a capital letter and an end mark too! And now our sentence has all its parts."
How we use the picture: we talk about the subject by answering the question, who or what is this about? We write it down. We then discuss the verb, What are they doing? We write it down. We add details as we learn them (i.e. adjectives and adverbs), check to make sure our sentence has a capital letter and an end mark. We end our writing session by reading the sentence out loud to make sure it makes sense! If needed, I offer suggestions and teach as we go along.
I hope those four simple, yet effective strategies help you begin thinking about your writer.
It worked for Stephen King.
It worked for Stephen King as a child who spent a year of his childhood extremely sick and eventually had to have his tonsils removed. He began writing because he was reading comic books he enjoyed. His mom encouraged him to write his own and then paid him a quarter for his writing. She then expressed how proud she was of his efforts that she mailed them off to family members as way to show them off. What an awesome, inspirational story for moms everywhere! Our children may not have "Stephen King" skills, but we can encourage them to read and write with confidence.
I do believe some copy work is important for memory, but too much is often discouraging, which his the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. You want to inspire, encourage, and prompt them to write on their own. How I did it might be different than how you approach it because your child will have different interests and hobbies, but the concept is the same. If you have any questions or have tried a similar approach and your writer is still struggling to write, do not hesitate to contact me. I can help!
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