Do you have a strong-willed writer or two? Focus on self-editing skills with these homeschool writing tips for teaching the strong-willed writer.
These children aren’t always struggling writers. As a matter of fact, many strong-willed children love to write! But they don’t appreciate instructions and formulas that—they claim—restrict their writing freedoms.
- Have a mind of their own when it comes to picking writing topics.
- Are perfectionists who wants to shine and excel in their work.
- Cry at the sight of red pencil corrections: “You wrote on my paper!”
- Become disheartened if you suggest any changes to their writing.
Guide Your Strong-Willed Writer
From childhood onward, I have been that strong-willed writer. My mother began homeschooling me when I was in second grade. She encountered many tears and protests whenever she corrected my writing assignments.
When I entered high school, my parents enrolled me in a WriteShop class for homeschool students. The course was a perfect fit for my tenacious ways. When I went on to study American literature in college, I carried with me those fundamental writing skills I first learned as a young high schooler.
Your strong-willed children are who they are. You can’t change that. You can, however, help them master writing skills. So try these homeschool writing tips and teaching tools for more effective—and, I hope, more enjoyable—writing instruction.
1. Teach self-editing skills.
Checklists are fantastic tools for teaching self-editing. Instead of making red-pencil corrections, give your young perfectionist a checklist with reminders about strong nouns, colorful adjectives, various sentence starters, minimal “to be” verbs, etc.
It’s less emotional when you hold their paper accountable to a list of lesson requirements—instead of weighing it against your subjective expectations. WriteShop is an excellent curriculum for teaching self-editing skills.
2. Commend their efforts and praise their successes.
Does your child sees every writing assignment as a performance, with more highs and lows than you can bear? Strong-willed kids want to be original and take the lead, so be sure to point out the positive aspects of both their writing and personality.
“Your word choices are excellent.”
“You really captured the emotion of that experience!”
“I love how you think outside the box. Your creative ending totally took me by surprise!”
3. Focus on incremental writing corrections.
Don’t overhaul the first draft. Instead, address errors bit by bit. For example, during the first week you might say: “I can spot three repeated words, five weak nouns, and four dull verbs in your paragraph.” Armed with tools such as word lists and a thesaurus, your student can identify the problem words and make the changes.
When making comments on the paper, use sticky notes that won’t deface their work. Once they’ve fixed those issues, turn your focus the next week to spelling and punctuation. Review the writing and say: “I can see five misspelled words, one comma error, and two misplaced apostrophes.” Again, let them find the mistakes and make the corrections.
All the while, try to keep the editing process lighthearted. See if you can make it a game!
4. Challenge your student to imitate great writing.
Did you know that Ben Franklin taught himself to write by studying and imitating great books? Samuel Johnson, who compiled the first English dictionary, also believed people only became fine writers by “daily imitation” of the best authors.
When writing with your child, set aside time to examine a passage from a great book. Ask: “What sentence starters does the author use? Where does he place commas, periods, and quotation marks?” Copywork and dictation exercises are useful for reinforcing this learning experience.
Look to the Future
These homeschool writing tips and correction strategies will teach students to think independently and solve problems creatively. In turn, you’ll help prepare them for self-directed study that’s essential in college.
When you approach a new writing assignment, focus on providing the right tools and vocabulary. Remember: your strong-willed kids have firm ideas and convictions, and they’re already motivated to express those thoughts in their own terms.
If they emotionally connect and personally identify with their own writing, so much the better! They’ll be more likely to engage with topics and make persuasive arguments in college and beyond.
Thanks to Daniella Dautrich for joining us as a guest blogger. Daniella is a homeschool graduate and WriteShop alumna. A happily married writer and homemaker, Daniella looks forward to homeschooling her own two little girls.