Helping your 3rd-5th grader with homeschool writing
Middle to upper elementary children express a really wide range of writing abilities.
- Some children still struggle to hold a pencil or write words.
- Some have strong verbal skills yet remain weak in writing. They can spin a great story and tell it orally, yet they’re not yet able to write independently.
- Others are beginning to emerge as writers, still depending on you a great deal (as much or more than ever, it may seem). These children need to dictate ideas and sentences during both brainstorming and writing, though they’re also able to contribute more and more to the actual writing itself.
- Finally, there are those who are progressing well through the stages of writing and now work fairly independently.
Encourage the Writing Process
Continue to encourage the writing process so it becomes natural. This starts by helping your child view writing as a multistage process:
- We plan.
- We write.
- We make changes.
- We write our final draft.
Ultimately, our kids begin to understand that the paper is the product and writing is the process.
How Much and How Often?
For children in grades 3-5, the focus remains on improving sentence structure and writing a solid paragraph.
- Consider doing formal writing 3 days a week. Children can devote their writing efforts to brainstorming, writing, or self-editing. On average, they should spend about 30-40 minutes per day on these assignments, depending on both age and attention span.
- On other days, offer writing prompts or other simple activities that require less time (10 to 15 minutes).
- In my experience, 8-10 quality writing projects per year is plenty of writing (meaning the piece will be taken through each step of the writing process). That’s roughly one complete writing project a month. Meanwhile, lesser assignments such as book narrations, journaling, and so forth can fill in gaps.
- A good target is 1- to 3-paragraph stories or short reports. Take care not to rush your child into longer assignments too soon. A concise, concrete, short piece beats a long, rambling, disjointed, dull, repetitive, tedious essay any day—no matter what age the child!
Remain an Involved Parent
These are bridge years, when most students go from largely parent-supported writing pieces to more independent writing. The biggest key to success with this is lots of practice. Fostering independence doesn’t mean you give an assignment and disappear! Even if it seems counterintuitive, continue working closely with your middle and older elementary children. Your 3-5th graders need you to:
- Model and teach.
- Oversee their work.
- Participate with them as needed.
- Praise their efforts.
- Give helpful feedback.
Make Homeschool Writing Fun
Start writing now! If you wait till junior high to begin teaching writing, by then it’s time to get down to brass tacks, and your children may have missed the delight of writing during their elementary years, when they learn that writing is something to enjoy and anticipate.
So most of all, for any elementary child in grades K-5, the writing experience should be fun! Motivation, excitement, and a positive learning environment all help children build confidence in their writing skills as they acquire the ability to write.
Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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Homeschool Writing Curriculum for 3rd-5th Grades
If the idea of teaching writing seems intimidating, WriteShop Junior holds your hand every step of the way. Lesson plans in Book D and Book E show you exactly how to guide your child through each part of the writing process. Children have so much fun playing writing games, learning to use exciting writing tools, and writing appealing stories such as adventures and mysteries that they hardly realize they’re learning! See all of the WriteShop Junior products and download samples here.