As a homeschool parent, you have your strengths. Maybe you’re good at science experiments. Or maybe arts and crafts is your thing. Maybe you’re a math whiz or a history buff or can speak Spanish fluently.
But for most parents, there’s at least one subject that they just don’t feel comfortable teaching. For most parents, there’s at least one subject that requires them to pore over teacher manuals more than usual. And for many parents, that subject is writing.
Teaching writing is tricky. There are so many styles, genres, rules, and steps in the writing process to know and teach.
So, how do you teach writing if you are not a confident writer?
Here are a few tips and words of encouragement:
#1 Take comfort in history
Did you know that some of the best wordsmiths in history had little to no formal writing instruction?
In our soon-to-be released writing curriculum, we profile these people and many more to teach students the habits of great writers. Hopefully, parents will also take comfort in that some of the greatest writers in history were self-taught.
#2: Encourage your child to read
What’s another thing that the above great writers had in common? They were all great readers. They immersed themselves in books.
Charlotte Mason wrote, "Having been brought up so far upon stylists the pupils are almost certain to have formed a good style; because they have been thrown into the society of many great minds, they will...shape an individual style [by the] wealth of material they possess.”
Here, Charlotte Mason is saying that children learn to write by reading. This is so true. One cannot write well if one does not read. Reading helps students extend their vocabularies. Reading helps students develop varied sentence structures. Reading helps students understand the arc of a story.
Take your children to the library. Stock your shelves with great works. Set up a reading nook. Carve out quiet space in your homeschool day for independent reading time.
It’s true: reading widely covers a multitude of shortcomings!
#3 Give your child access to experts through great curriculum
Though students can learn much through reading, they can still benefit from some formal writing instruction. There are so many resources available to homeschool families. Find a quality writing curriculum written by a professional writer. It then becomes the curriculum author’s job to teach your child the steps of the writing process. Parents who are not confident writers can take that burden off their shoulders.
#4 Learn along with your child
By choosing an expertly written curriculum, the parent can learn along with the child. This is a great learning together opportunity that can provide benefits to all. By learning together, the parent will also be equipped to provide encouraging feedback on writing assignments.
#5 Use community resources
Chances are, if you do a little digging, you will easily come by some excellent writing resources in your very own neighborhood.
#6 Your child’s writing journey will not end with high school graduation
You do not have to teach your child everything he or she needs to know by age eighteen. Remember that becoming a writer is a lifelong journey. Your child's writing will continue to improve with age and practice.
So rest assured, homeschool parents. Your child can become a great writer, even if writing is not your strong suit. Focus your efforts on providing opportunities, and don’t stress over providing instruction.
This week in Hot Chocolate and Current Events, we want to help you blend current events with critical thinking. Picture prompts can be great for this. And who doesn't love a good illustration?
This week's discussion is fun and easy.
At Silverdale Press, we want to help you teach your kids the ways of great citizens. In your homeschool, you can help your kids read the news by pointing them toward topics that interest them. We help you do that each week with with our Hot Chocolate and Current Events articles.
Do your kids love Legos? If so, they might be interested in this article from the business pages on the drop in Lego sales.
-Do you like Legos? Why or why not?
-What caused Lego to have to sell excess stock at a discount?
-Why do you think Lego overestimated the stock it would need?
-Do you think that Lego has “lost its imagination”? Do you think kids like themed sets?
-Do you think there was “a bit too much of Star Wars” last year?
-Is Lego too expensive?
-Has Lego failed to keep up with 2017 trends?
-Does Lego need to try to attract more customers, such as girls, older kids, and adults? How can they do that?
-Why do you think Lego is aiming to use more environmentally friendly materials?
If you struggle with homeschool writing instruction, you are not alone. Many parents struggle with writing instruction and, in particular, how to give comments on writing assignments.
As homeschool parents, you want to show your children where they can improve their writing. But you also want to encourage them in their writing journeys. Most importantly, you want to cultivate a warm and close relationship with your children. You don’t want your writing critiques to end up in tears and frustration and broken relationships.
So, how can you strike a balance between being a tough editor, wielding a red pen, and being hand-holding, warm-hearted mom? In this post, we’d like to pass along a simple but effective framework for kindly critiquing your child’s writing. All you have to do is remember this quick phrase:
Compliment— Constructive Criticism— Compliment
What does this mean?
It’s quite simple, really. All you have to do is begin with a positive comment. Follow it up with constructive criticism. Then end with another positive comment.
Why is this effective?
Constructive criticism is much easier to take if it is sandwiched between positive comments. Students will be looking for positive comments, so you will be fulfilling their emotional needs. You will also be sneaking in some constructive criticism, so you will also be fulfilling your job as a homeschool teacher.
What does this look like in practice?
First, note one or two good things about the child’s writing. For example,
Second, note a few areas for improvement. For example,
Third, end on a positive, encouraging note. For example,
We hope this was helpful to you. The Compliment— Constructive Criticism— Compliment is a tried and true framework because it is based on sound wisdom. It is your job as a homeschool parent to provide constructive criticism. But that criticism is more likely to be accepted if it is couched in kindness.
One of the habits of great citizens is keeping up with what’s going on in the world. Hot Chocolate and Current Events is our weekly effort to help your homeschool family do just that.
Have you heard about the new L.L. Bean return policy? It has been in the news for the past week, and we've been hearing a good deal about it.
Read this article from the Chicago Tribune, then answer the following questions.
Presidents' Day is Monday, February 19, 2018. Do you want to mark Presidents' Day in your homeschool but don't know how? Fear not! This week, we're sharing a lesson plan and resources for teaching about presidential portraits. This would be a great activity for Presidents' Day or for studying current events, since portraits have been in the news lately.
The White House Historical Association has great a great Podcast about the presidency in history. The name of the Podcast is 1600 Sessions. Click here to listen to the audio file of their Podcast on presidential portraits, where they interview Betty Monkman, former White House curator, and William Kloss, art historian.
Your local library may have a copy of William Kloss's book Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride. It is a beautiful, thick volume that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about White House's art collection.
On Monday, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery unveiled Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits. The Obamas' taste in art tends toward the modern, and their portraits reflected this. The Obamas were the first couple to have their portraits painted with a modern art twist.
You can view the entire collection of presidential portraits on the White House Historical Association's Website.
You can view Barack and Michelle Obama's newly released portraits here, and read the corresponding news article about them.
Finally, download this fantastic guide from the National Portrait Gallery called the "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators.
Put it all together, and here's your Presidents' Day Homeschool Lesson Plan:
This is such a fun, easy, and FREE way to celebrate Presidents' Day in your homeschool. Happy learning!
Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, February 14. This week for Hot Chocolate and Current Events, our weekly effort to help homeschooling families learn about the news, we are taking a look at this sweet holiday. In your holiday homeschool celebration, why not discuss Valentine’s Day as a current event?
This week’s article tells about how much people are spending on Valentine’s Day this year:
Read the article, then kick back with your family with a cup of hot chocolate for a sweet discussion.
Why do people spend money on Valentine’s Day?
Is 19.6 billion total too much for one country to spend on Valentine’s Day? Too little?
Is $143.56 (the average) a good amount for a person to spend on Valentine’s Day?
Why do you think people are spending more money this year compared to last year?
Why do you think consumers ages 25-34 will spend the most?
What do you think of people spending money on their pets?
If you had a Valentine’s Day budget of $1,000, how would you spend it?
On which holiday should we spend the most money?
On which holiday should we spend the least money?
Name one new thing this article taught you about consumer spending habits.
This week for Hot Chocolate and Current Events, we’re taking a look at the State of the Union address.
The United States Constitutions stipulates: The president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
You can watch the State of the Union on YouTube. There are also shorter excerpts or highlights of the speech available on YouTube. Here is a great set of State of the Union BINGO cards.
Do you agree with President Trump’s overall view of the state of the union?
What was the most memorable line from his speech?
What do you think was his best recommendation?
Who was your favorite citizen-guest the president honored? Why?
Do you think the president's speech was unifying?
What did you think of the speech overall? Why?
Is your family excited about the winter Olympics? Here are some great persuasive writing prompts for your kids to use during the upcoming games. Your responses can be silly or serious. Just be sure to take a position and back it up with solid thinking.
#1 Why is your hometown the best site for a future winter Olympics?
Write a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to persuade them to bring the next Olympic games to your town. In your response, consider the best features of your town, as well as the benefits it would provide.
#2 How would you change your favorite summer Olympic sport into a winter Olympic sport?
People are always petitioning the IOC to get new sports included in the Olympic games. Think about your favorite sport from the summer games. How would you change that sport into a winter sport? Write a letter to the International Olympic Commission to persuade them to accept your new summer-turned-winter sport.
#3 Persuade your parents to give you two weeks off of school to watch non-stop Olympic coverage.
Write a letter to your parents explaining why you should be given two weeks off from school to watch the Olympic games. (Parents, we don’t recommend you give in to this request 😃 )
#4 What should the Olympic stadiums be used for once the games are over?
Olympic host cities spend lots of money on stadiums but often do not know what to do with them once the games are over. What should South Korea do with their Olympic stadiums once the games are over? Write a letter to South Korea’s president with your suggestions.
#5 When should a country boycott the Olympics?
There are always calls for countries to boycott the Olympic games. (The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow). Under what circumstances should a country refuse to send athletes to compete in the Olympic games?
This winter, are you warming up your homeschool with Hot Chocolate and Current Events? It's our weekly initiative to help increase your family’s civic knowledge and thinking skills.
The high cost of college is a perennial topic of the news. Despite rising costs, some colleges are installing things like lazy rivers to attract students.
Read the following article:
Consider the following questions:
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