Writing: The More You Practice, The Better You Get

Learning to write is like learning to dance — it takes time, finesses, practice, and passion. Dance! poster by Steve Henderson Fine Art.

The first part of this article (Homeschooling? Yes, you can teach your child to write) addressed many homeschooling instructors’ reluctance to teach their children to write, because they — the instructors — don’t know grammar. Grammar is essential to writing well, they are convinced, and to this end, they purchase workbooks for their 6-year-olds that launch into nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions.

While these basic building blocks of language construction are important to learn, they can wait, and an older child can pick them up relatively quickly. What is difficult to pick up without consistent and constant practice, however, is the actual composition process of writing.

In other words, the more you write, the better you write.

And all you need to get started writing is a pencil/pen and paper or a keyboard, and something to say.

Throughout our personal homeschooling experience, writing consisted of sitting down for a set period of time and . . . writing. Younger children spent 15 minutes, older children up to an hour — daily. Most of the time, subject matter was up to the child, and if they were absolutely flummoxed (“I can’t think of anything at all to write” was, in a young child’s mind, sufficient to be excused from the task) I offered them three choices, one of which they had to pick. Generally, before they opted for this alternative, they found something to write about.

I wrote Grammar Despair to help aspiring writers, business people, and homeschoolers with writing — which does not require a degree in grammar. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.

And my job?

It was two-fold: first, I identified a limited number of mistakes or errors to correct — punctuation, spelling, syntax — and gently pointed them out. Even if you are not a copy editor (and most people aren’t), you probably read enough yourself to recognize glaring mistakes, along the lines of, “I done it before he arrive,” and the more you and your child work together in reading his creativity, the better you both will get.

Secondly, and most importantly, I actually read and absorbed the content, asking questions about things I didn’t understand, requesting clarification on points that were murky. Because the primary purpose of writing is to convey a message, if that message were not conveyed, the child — the writer — would recognize this through my confusion. As your children get older and pursue interests that are outside of your own, your questions for elucidation will become more genuine — while you may be perfectly aware that chickens have wings and cows say moo, you may not know the difference between a rapier and an epée.

Homeschooling involves doing all sorts of things together, from domestic chores to reading one another’s writing. Sophie and Rose, original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

My son’s favorite topic was medieval warfare, and I repeatedly asked clarification for which “he” was being talked about — William or Harold — and whether “they” were the Normans or the English. In this manner, we addressed the matter of pronoun confusion.

Another time, faced by a page of unbroken text that caused my eyes to glaze over, I introduced the concept of breaking the text into paragraphs, and between the two of us, we identified the best places to do this.


I know, it sounds like it takes a lot of time, doing all this reading, but if you don’t worry about correcting every single mistake (and there will be many), you can make it through your child’s — or children’s — daily output in a reasonable amount of time. Take advantage, as well, of the other members of your household — an older child can read through a younger child’s work on occasion, and both of them will learn something from it.

This article continues and concludes with Part III — Real Life Writing.

All of the fine art in my articles is by my Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, a professional, award-winning painter who sells his work as originals and prints, both licensed open editions and signed limited edition prints.

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This article is linked to The Character Corner, Teaching What Is Good, Memories by the Mile, Coastal Charm, Growing Home, Walking Redeemed, Deep Roots at Home, Adorned from Above, A Little R and R, A Wise Woman, Wholehearted Home, Thriving Thursdays, Live Laugh Rowe, We Are That Family, Jenny Mullinix, Hearts for Home, Living Well Spending Less, Fabulously Frugal, Hope in Every Season, All Our Days, This Mind Be in You,