Supplementing Writing Skills For A Home School Curriculum

If your children are home schooled and you are concerned about a weak writing component, here are some things you can do.

Home schooling is an educational alternative to public education that is starting to come into its own. In recent years the home schooling trend has mushroomed in the United States and abroad, with many programs linked by a district coordinator.

The curriculum of a home school program may be similar to that found in the surrounding area's public schools. Or it may be quite different, utilizing a teaching method that varies from the public education format in your region. Sometimes the writing component may be a cause for anxiety, as some programs offer little instruction and limited practice of composing and grammar skills.

If you feel that your child could benefit from additional writing instruction, here are some things that parents can do to enhance the writing techniques taught in many home school programs:

1. Review the course materials. Sometimes the intention is good, but the explanation may falter. Be sure your child understands what is expected and how to do it. If not, be prepared to go over those lessons in more detail. Contact the curriculum company with questions, if need be, until both you and your child are clear on learning objectives and the required writing style.

2. Find relevant models. Visit your library, contact the community college, or do an online search to find essay models that can help your child. Following a quality essay with solid structure and ample development can help your child better understand the nature of academic writing. You may explain the important parts of a good piece of writing, such as structure, focus, and detail.

3. Assign writing tasks. Business letters, thank-you notes, and email messages can help your child learn and practice effective composing techniques. Emphasize the value of correct grammar and punctuation, along with the three parts of structure, the introduction, body, and conclusion. "Grade" each piece of writing before it is sent, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses to help your child learn how to improve.

4. Encourage revising. If your child hands in a piece of writing that needs to be revised, mark the paper accordingly, return it, and set a date for the completed revision to be submitted. Rewriting tells a student that there is hope for correcting errors and improving style.

5. Pay for extra credit. Offer your child a dollar a page to write book reports, researched essays, or other types of writing that will help him or her expand research, writing, and editing skills. Consider teaching him supplemental skills, such as typing or computer use. Use verbal praise to encourage your child to continue writing and revising.

6. Collect and compare. Place each graded piece of writing in a portfolio. At the end of a term, review your child's progress from beginning to end. Point out how many fewer red corrections there are, as well as areas where the writing is stronger, better defined, or more accurate. Frame, hang, or display an especially good writing assignment.

Helping your child learn to write beyond a home school lesson plan is not difficult. Use creativity and incentives to get her to reach her potential and meet learning objectives associated with good writing skills.

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