February 19, 2014 Edition 

Does Teaching Writing Overwhelm You?            

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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

I am a writer. Not necessarily a grand writer; but when given the proper time and outlet, the words do come forth. However, most of the time, I just throw my thoughts on paper and then use the majority of my writing time rearranging those thoughts. I move words around like a dump truck; all the while praying those words will make sense to the reader.


But teaching writing can overwhelm me. I think it's because most of my children are not like me. They are not natural writers. So, how do I teach something that just feels inherent to me? I can't just give them a curriculum or a prompt and let them have at it and hope they succeed. They need help navigating, so I walk them through the wonderful land of word crafting.


What they learn is that we do much more re-writing than actual writing. We do a lot of thinking and moving words around and polishing them until they shine. We take it slow and easy, one step at a time.


When they are young (even non-readers): they dictate to me what they heard, learned, or observed. I write their words down for them, and then ask pointed questions. What happened; where and when? What did they see, hear, or feel? What did they learn? This frees up their mind to think (as they didn't have to worry about the act of writing it down), they enjoy it, increase their vocabulary, and are proud of their finished product.


As they get a bit older, I have the children write about the books they are reading, or reports on their hobbies or interests, or poetry, letters, or devotional writing. In junior high and high school, we concentrate on essays and style.


Sometimes their language arts curriculum gives writing assignments, and sometimes I give the writing assignments. Either way, we write, we think, we rearrange, we write some more, we get rid of "regular" words, use good synonyms, make arguments, and come up with strong endings.


When we are working on a writing assignment, we skip anything else for language arts for that time period. We take it one day at a time--one piece at a time. We can actually take our time and don't have to rush. We can read good writing, find out why we liked it, and then imitate the style. We can practice small portions at a time, trying new things as we go along.


I have learned that if we do a little, and then a little more, and stay consistent, we can teach our children to write well.


Oh, and by the way, God is a writer. And what He has written is the best writing in the world. Have your children study God the Writer! Why did He write? What did He write? To whom did He write? How can we write like Him?


Pray continually, and God will be faithful to show you the "write" way for each child. And whatever your child does, teach him to do it with the strength God provides, and for the glory of God Himself. He will bless his efforts and yours as you honor Him.



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The Familyman 

Who are we kidding here? If you're like most homeschoolers, every subject can seem overwhelming at times. It's not that you're not smart enough to teach your children. God has, after all, equipped you to train and teach your children all they need to know to lead productive, God-honoring lives. But it can still be overwhelming, especially when it pertains to writing.


Where do you start? How much should you require your children to write? What if your child hates to write? What do you do when your best friend's child is writing plays and novels while yours can't even write a legible "Thank You" note?


Here's my simple advice: relax, plug away, and enjoy each child's giftedness (because not all children are gifted with words).


You know your child. Are words his/her thing? Maybe he expresses himself with art, building, or bugs. Amazingly sometimes THOSE gifts become the catalyst that transfers the need to write.


I've heard lots of stories of moms who were overwhelmed by their child's lack of writing skills only to be astounded by the same child who grows a little older and wants to communicate something he's interested in. Especially in this texting age ... writing seems to be a learn-by-necessity exercise.


So, relax and enjoy all the misspellings, the incomplete sentences, and their lack of motivation. Just plug away and have a great day with each of your children.


Be real,


Todd ... the kid (and adult) who still doesn't know many parts of speech beyond a noun!


PS. If you feel like you need some real expert writing help, check out my friend, Andrew Pudewa's great writing program



Brave Writer supports the homeschooling family in language arts and writing from grammar school until college with online classes, home study courses, and language arts programs.


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Raising Real Men    

My college and early career experience were all about engineering--calculus, physics, more calculus, and lots of programming. English class was a distraction to the stuff I really wanted to do. Little did I expect what I discovered-that being able to write clearly, correctly, and even enjoyably, would open all kinds of doors for me.


So how can you engage your technical-scientific child in learning to write?

  1. Get concrete, specific, and practical. When a teacher said "Just write whatever you feel like," I didn't feel free--I was frustrated! Try giving assignments with obvious purpose, like, "Write a descriptive paragraph which would allow me to build this bookcase without a drawing," or "Write a narrative paragraph using landmarks to describe how to get from the interstate to Grandma's house."
  2. Give him great examples to read. The best preparation I had for becoming a good writer--after the basics of spelling and grammar--was reading good writing. I pushed back against literature, but found inspiration in a political journal a history teacher introduced to me. Every field has excellent writers who help make complex ideas understandable. Find them and introduce your young writer to them!
  3. Teach him the secret of good editing. Published authors and journalists will tell you the difference between an average writer and a real professional is the ability to go back and re-write anything which doesn't quite work. Remember the story which is such a pleasure to read the first time through didn't get written in one swoop! William Zinnser's book On Writing Well helped me understand the process. Encourage your young writer to finish a draft then leave it for a day or two, maybe read it out loud and see how it flows, and then go polish it up!
  4. Give him the tip that good writing will set him apart from the crowd. Many of my technical colleagues were like me in college--focused on science and math and brushing off writing as a necessary evil. Being able to communicate well on paper, though, gave me numerous opportunities that others overlooked. Don't sell it short, young scientist!

Yours in the Battle,

Hal Young


Hal and Melanie Young are the parents of eight, all homeschooled. Their new book, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, was released Valentine's Day. Find out more at!  

"Give your child the freedom to create
without fear of critique, and you will
be amazed at their capabilities."
TOS Article
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Contest Corner 

For the month of February, 2014     


Goldtown Adventures Series: Tunnel of Gold


Susan K. Marlow began writing stories when she was 10 years old. She obtained an elementary education degree and taught in Christian schools before homeschooling her children. Now over 20 years later she is "back in the saddle" helping homeschooling families by teaching writing workshops as well as writing good historical fiction books for kids.


Susan K. Marlow is best known for her Circle C Adventures book series. Set in California in the 1880s, this series features a girl named Andrea Carter and her horse Taffy. It has become a very popular book series with an off shoot series for younger readers called Andi and Taffy. The newest Susan K. Marlow series is called Goldtown Adventures.


Set in 1864, 12-year-old Jem his sister and cousin have many adventures along Cripple Creek. Jem leads the way in many adventures including finding out why Cripple Creek is losing water as well as getting trapped in an old mine. Through all of his adventures and mishaps Jem is given opportunities to learn trust in God.


In Tunnel of Gold, Jem is caught in the middle of a miner's riot. He quickly finds out the trouble is over a gold mine that has been "played out" or not producing gold anymore. Jem has to think quickly to save the Midas Mine.


Read the Crew reviews to find out what our team thought of the Goldtown Adventures!


You can WIN the Tunnel of Gold!


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Tunnel of Gold" for a chance to win* the book for your family!   


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