Help your homeschool child improve weak writing skills

by | Sep 6, 2021 | Brainstorming, High school, Reluctant or Struggling Writers

Problem: Your homeschooled child is a weak writer who doesn’t know how to make writing assignments fresh and interesting.

Solution: Provide an assortment of activities and tools that build strong writing skills.

Whether you’re sewing, gardening, working with wood, or fixing an engine, you can’t do the job properly without certain skills and tools. The same can be said for writing—and we’re not just talking about paper, pens, and a laptop. Weak writing skills pose a big stumbling block to kids of all ages, so let’s look at some practical principles that will help you equip your children for writing success!

Play Pre-writing Games

Playing games and having fun is an easy and painless way to improve weak writing skills! Pre-writing exercises and writing games act as warm-ups that get creative juices flowing, build vocabulary, and strengthen sentence and story development. Games you make up, like sentence-building games, make perfect pre-writing activities.

And don’t discount the value of purchased games. Scattergories and Star Wars Story Cubes come to mind as two great writing warm-up games our family loved to play. Along with old friends like Scrabble and Boggle, they make ideal family Christmas gifts. Your kids will have no idea they’re learning!

RELATED >> StoryBuilders, printable writing prompts, story spinners, and more

Use Brainstorming Worksheets & Graphic Organizers

Before your child or teen writes the first word of a composition, they increase their chances for success by brainstorming. Like pre-writing, brainstorming is a skill that stimulates thinking in general. However, it also acts as a springboard for writing about a particular subject. In essence, brainstorming is like traveling with a plan!

Brainstorming can improve weak writing skills in several ways. It

  • Gets ideas flowing so students have something to say.
  • Helps them overcome writer’s block.
  • Prepares them for writing as they come up with a plan that sets the in the right direction.
  • Helps organize their thoughts.

To further promote thinking skills, you’ll want to teach a variety of brainstorming techniques. Whatever the topic, suggest a brainstorming method that’s best for the kind of composition your kids are writing. For example:

There are many ways to brainstorm, but worksheets and graphic organizers are tools that often smooth the way for reluctant writers.

If you’re using a program like WriteShop I or II with your teens, you’ll find brainstorming worksheets already prepared for each writing assignment (see example here). But brainstorming isn’t just for your junior high or high schooler! You can begin teaching this skill as early as kindergarten, either on your own or with a helpful curriculum like WriteShop Primary or WriteShop Junior. Starting your children when they’re young can help prevent the debilitating case of writer’s block that often plagues older students.

RELATED >> 4 ways to brainstorming with reluctant writers

Help your homeschool child improve weak writing skills

Introduce Editing Tools

A good checklist serves as a guide to help students identify their own errors in content, style, and mechanics so they can improve and enliven their writing. For instance, if the checklist reminds them to choose strong words, they’ll be forced to find more interesting words to replace weak ones. This simple tool can help your kids hone a valuable skill they’ll use all their lives.

Don’t forget the fun factor! When it comes to strengthening editing skills, elementary children are more eager to proofread when they can play games and use grown-up editing tools such as highlighters and colored pencils.

Add in Other Skills and Tools

Skill Builders

In addition to checklists and brainstorming worksheets, there are other tools that help breathe new life into writing. For example, skill-building exercises and activities can give your child instruction and practice in new writing skills like choosing titles, adding details to the middle of a story, writing topic sentences, citing sources, or using sentence variations.


I’m sure grammar is part of your language arts curriculum, but how it can revive writing may be a complete mystery to you. When you require children (teens in particular) to apply newly learned grammar concepts to their compositions (as in WriteShop I & II lessons), grammar actually makes more sense. So rather than teach grammar in a vacuum, teach it as it applies to writing. That’s where the rubber meets the road!

Writing isn’t an exact science, but you can still apply proven principles to inspire stronger writing in your homeschool. I hope you’ll soon notice a difference in both attitude and output as you put some of these tips into practice.

More Ways to Help Your Struggling Writer

Do you wish your homeschool writing curriculum offered more pre-writing activities and brainstorming ideas?

Take a look at WriteShop I for your 7th-10th grader or WriteShop Primary or Junior for elementary ages! You’ll love all the writing games, graphic organizers, and editing tools that improve weak writing skills. 

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  1. Amy

    We LOVE Apples to Apples, of course we never thought of it as educational! Awesome… and they’ll never even have to know!
    Amy in Peru

  2. Kim

    You’re right–it never hurts to be reminded of a good idea!

  3. Kimberly

    I agree wholeheartedly that using games works – we teach as much as possible using games. We have Jr. Scrabble & Scrabble, and also a great card game, Once Upon a Time, that really gets the creative juices flowing 🙂

  4. Tammy

    Games are always a good idea at our house! The graphic organizers can be really helpful, too. Good reminder!

  5. Kim

    Diane: That’s so encouraging to hear that your daughter is applying what she’s learning. Kudos to both of you!

    Linda: Thanks for taking time to comment. Hope you find new ways to add that fun to your homeschooling days. 🙂

  6. Linda

    Thank you for the reminders and encouragement.
    I like the idea of “fun” teaching concepts that have life-long value.

  7. Diane Allen

    The question with any curriculum is do the methods “stick”. I’m happy to report on the stickiness of Writeshop’s training. My daughter spontaneously decided to enter her coach into a “coach of the year contest” – and just as spontaneously started a brainstorming page of things the recommendation should say! She even called other girls on her team to get their input and then organized all the comments into catagories! Yeh — it works!
    Diane Allen

  8. Kim

    Thanks for commenting, ladies! I’m glad you enjoyed the reminder to infuse learning time with a bit of fun. 🙂

  9. Diane

    I get so caught up in teaching to curriculum, I forget the value of taking time for games. Thank you for the reminder!

  10. Mary

    I love the idea of using a game to get the brainstorm thing going! We have Apples-to-Apples, and a few others, but were in a phase for a while where the children did not really want to gather as a family to play. I think I’ll start pulling out the games as part of our homeschool day! Thanks!!!

  11. Tammy

    Thanks for the great warm up ideas. We have these games sitting around for fun. I love it when we can slip in learning with fun!

  12. Donna

    Apples to Apples is a great game to play for fun, what a bonus it is for learning too!

  13. Kim

    Apples to Apples is a riot, Isabelle! I’m pretty sure it’s available in a “junior” version, as are many adult vocab and word games. Since you have littles, the junior versions would be perfect for you.

    Bananagrams is a take on Boardless (or Speed) Scrabble. You can find the rules here:

    Boardless Scrabble

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. Isabelle Lussier aka Canadianladybug

    You know I do have some vocabulary games and such but I never really thought of using them. I know I know… this is bad. I have the resources but don’t use it.

    Scattergories is something I have. Never heard of or played Apple to Apple but I am quite curious about it.

    But my kids are 8 and under right now. I definetively need to spend more time with the oldest on this issue… I even bought BANANAGRAMS so I need to take this out for him. I do have some French games too.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt… I needed this.


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