I could use some insights on how to get my kids to turn out better quality book reports and just writing in general. My oldest is in 6th grade and the next child is in 3rd grade, and here we’ve done grammar and writing year after year and yet so many times in journal writing or book reports I don’t see what they’re learning taking hold in everyday usage. I use Rod and Staff English books and I also switched to Winston Grammar for my 6th grader this past year, but like I said, when it comes to everyday usage they’re not getting it. Help!
It is hard to bridge the stretch from English book exercises to applying the skills to your own writing. We see this in many areas daily as a parent. You can coach a child and teach him how to answer the phone, for example, but when the phone rings, all lessons seem to fly out the window. The only way children learn to apply the skills is to actually do it. Practicing answering the phone many times will finally result in the connection of what you have taught is a proper way to answer with the actual act of answering.
So it is with writing. Children have to write, write, write if they are going to apply the principles you teach them. I have my children write every single day in their school journals. Then I go over and help them correct their writing. This is essential. Uncorrected writing only reinforces poor writing. Your children’s writing should be done in pencil or erasable pen and any sloppy letters must be erased and rewritten. Spelling is corrected and recorded in a spelling section of their notebook. If they forgot to indent with a new idea, I have them erase and indent. It doesn’t take too long, correcting their work, for them to consciously start correcting their sloppiness and taking the time to look up words in a spelling dictionary, rather than have to erase at mother’s request.
Each child’s writing needs to be individually assessed and corrected, which is the beauty of homeschool. My son Ammon (7) writes very neatly so penmanship corrections are not an issue I make. If he makes paragraph errors (such as forgetting to indent with a new idea), I let them be at this point in his development. My aim with him is to reinforce complete sentences with proper punctuation and spelling. For Emily (9) however, I make sure that details are corrected. I watch for small penmanship errors as it is time to refine her cursive. With Julianna (14), together we discuss and correct her writing for awkward sentence structure, continuity of thought, overuse of adjectives and other advanced writing techniques.
Writing every single day is the necessary practice to turn English lessons into actual better everyday writing.
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