Writing is one of the tools God has given us to communicate with others. Not only can writing be a more permanent form of communication (than, say, speech), it is also more closely evaluated than speech. For instance, if we make a grammatical error while we’re telling about our visit to the mall, most people won’t even notice. However, if an author makes an error in his writing, everything else he says will be looked at with suspicion. Does this author really know what he is talking about? Is he careless?
In addition, writing is a powerful tool for reaching the mind and emotions of an audience. We have all been moved to action by a book, a letter from a friend, or even the Word of God. Whether we personally enjoy writing or feel we do well at it, we all must admit the power of our words.
Therefore, a major goal of teaching language arts is to help you train your children to be effective writers, ever conscious of the importance of using their words for the glory of God.
If you are using our suggestions for Teaching Grammar, your children will already be learning to evaluate their writing. However, we felt that there were additional things that children should learn. These areas are the culmination of everything else that they learn, such as spelling, vocabulary, word usage, and even handwriting. By evaluating your children’s daily writing, you’ll know what other areas need a little extra attention.
We suggest that you purchase a notebook for each child and ask your children to write something every day. In our family, we most often write journal entries. We also write letters, write about something we’ve read, write plays and short stories, and write responses to current events.
Keep in mind that writing daily includes pre-writing and post-writing activities. For instance, it is wise to teach your child how to make a word web, how to revise, how to proofread, etc.
Your child may not enjoy writing at first. Keep with it! Require just a few sentences, but be consistent about doing it daily. If your children have not mastered handwriting, you may wish to have them dictate their daily “writing” to you. By third or fourth grade, most children’s motor skills have begun to catch up to their thinking speeds.
I found it helpful to reference “Scope & Sequence” charts of what major curriculum suppliers expect of children at each grade level. You can use these charts to determine what to emphasize in your daily writing, keeping in mind the uniqueness of your own children. For instance, if I follow the Scope & Sequence chart developed by Bob Jones University Press, I will know to teach the following writing skills in first grade:
- Telling a story from a picture
- Telling a story in the order it happened
- Giving directions to a house or other location
- Listening to songs, stories, poems, nursery rhymes, folktales and Bible stories. Listening is an important first step to writing!
- Telling about something listened to, including telling about background information, facts and details, main idea and application.
- Describing an experience
- Sharing a new idea
- Writing a completion for a sentence, a story, and a rhyme
- Using periods and question marks at the ends of sentences
- Capitalizing names and the first words of sentences
- Using comparatives and superlatives (big, bigger, biggest, etc.)
- Reading orally with expression
Teaching creative writing to our children can feel like an intimidating process. However, most experienced homeschoolers will tell you that there is simply one secret: Have your children write something every day!