Writing ideas for the unstructured homeschool

Whenever I talk to parents who homeschool, I’m surprised how many still treat it like a traditional, structured classroom.

As a homeschooled child myself, I remember my folks purposefully making our education a time of unstructured personal and academic discovery. In terms of writing, my mother took full advantage of the fact that “doing school” didn’t mean sitting at desks all day!

No matter your homeschool style, try these four dynamic writing activities to inspire your kids. They’ll work on writing basics while learning to express themselves in fresh ways.

Write reports or reviews about favorite books.

Too often, kids become discouraged with writing when they can’t pick what they’d like to write about. The same goes for reading. While most standard reading programs have good intentions, they don’t consider children’s diverse tastes.

Put the ball in their court! Encourage them to pick their own books and write summaries, reviews, or creative book reports. If one of the kids needs boundaries, you might give three books from which to pick.

Pretend you’re a reporter and interview people.

Teach children early on that the process of writing is deeply connected not just with their own thoughts, but with others’ opinions. The best way to learn this is by talking to others about a specific topic or issue.

For example, ask them to interview older family members or neighbors about what life was like when they were children. Or, talk with a community worker about his or her job. When they’ve conducted several interviews, have them compile them into a story or article.

Go on an outdoor adventure and write a descriptive essay.

Inexperienced writers can forget to include descriptions of scene and setting. Often, it’s because they’re stuck indoors where they must turn to their own imagination.

To solve this problem, take them to a local park, zoo, or wildlife sanctuary. First, have them take notes about their surroundings. Later, invite them to write a short report or story containing details about what they saw, smell, heard, and felt.

Write and perform a short play.

Whether they’re young or old, it can be hard for writers to master an ear for spoken language. To improve this skill in a fun way, have your kids write and act out a short play.

When they can hear out loud what they’ve written on paper, they start to understand how to make their writing sound more natural and conversational. It’s a great way to improve speaking abilities, too.

Removing yourself from traditional-classroom mode means the sky’s the limit as far as learning goes. Take advantage of the opportunities homeschooling offers, and think of as many off-the-beaten-path ways to write as you can!

Thanks to Barbara Jolie for this guest post! Barbara enjoys writing about trends in the academic world. Even when she’s not blogging, Barbara is always contemplating and considering issues concerning education and modern society. You can reach her at barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.


  • Posted August 6, 2012

    Forrest Lybrand

    I think this post is great. I was a homeschooler growing up, and we wrote and put on plays often with friends of ours, about pirates and rescues and the like. I remember writing one in particular, sitting at my dad’s computer and working on it all on my own. And then seeing my friends act out what I had written sparked my desire to write even more. I think implementing this type of thing as a homeschool project is a great idea.

    -Forrest Lybrand

    • Posted August 6, 2012


      Thanks for sharing your experience, Forrest! You just never know what will ignite that small spark.

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