By Daniella Dautrich
Whether we’re talking chores or homeschool lessons, giving your children clear expectations makes all the difference in their learning experience. If they don’t understand what you want from them, confusion quickly turns to frustration or discouragement.
When it comes to teaching writing in your homeschool, you may find yourself falling into one of two camps: insecure or unrealistic. If either of these strikes a familiar chord, you’ll feel way more prepared and confident if you can avoid these common pitfalls!
“A for Effort”: The Insecure Parent
Do you find it stressful to teach and grade writing because you’re insecure and feel inadequate to the task? A natural response to these feelings is requiring too little from your kids. Maybe you’re only asking them to journal once a week or assigning a book report here and there—just to say, “We did writing.”
If writing feels a bit hit-and-miss at your house, grading isn’t far behind. Sometimes you comment on your kids’ papers, and sometimes you don’t.
You’re an encourager at heart and want to praise your children’s smallest efforts! Chances are, you’re liberal with smiley faces and quick to mark their papers with that default “A for effort.” It’s possible their writing and grammar mistakes continue to multiply simply because giving realistic feedback is hard for you.
The problem isn’t your gentle, fun-loving spirit! As you’ve discovered, insecurity about teaching writing creates low expectations and inconsistency. This makes for a haphazard teaching style that not only creates a stumbling block for overwhelmed kids, but it affects their confidence as well.
“A for Perfection”: The Unrealistic Parent
The pendulum can swing the other way too!
Whether you have a background in English or simply have a knack for writing and grammar, you might be setting especially high standards for your kids. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—but it can create problems if you’re too rigid or don’t communicate your expectations.
High standards are important—we want our kids to do their best and strive for excellence, don’t we? Just remember to account for things like:
- Small-motor development
- Writing experience
- Attention span
- Spelling and grammar skills
- Any special needs that affect writing
These will help you set realistic standards and give clear expectations so you don’t turn your children off to writing. Giving achievable goals helps them know what to aim for. And if your current approach to teaching writing isn’t going well for your child, trust your instincts and be willing to reevaluate not just your methods, but your expectations.
The Write Solution
Giving clear writing expectations will help you raise better writers and reduce stress during writing sessions. That’s why I’m such a fan of teaching writing skills the WriteShop way.
Making “fuzzy” comments on a paper (such as too short or too vague) may leave your kids scratching their heads and wondering what they did wrong. Instead, before they first begin to write, make tasks concrete and give measurable targets, such as:
- Write 5 sentences.
- Include emotion words to add a stronger voice.
- Choose vivid, exciting words instead of dull, vague words.
Now, instead of marking your children’s writing as “too vague” or “too short,” you can instruct, guide, and correct with greater confidence. When you practice communicating specific ideas, requests, and concerns, the clear expectations might just overflow into the rest of your home life as well.
RELATED: How to Teach Writing with Confidence
WriteShop lessons give both parents and kids clear writing expectations, so neither of you will be left guessing what to do—or how to do it!
Interested in learning more?
✏️ Explore WriteShop Primary (grades K-3)
✏️ Learn more about WriteShop Junior (grades 3-7)
✏️ Check out WriteShop I and II (junior high/high school)
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband are the parents of two little girls. They fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science.