4 Moms Teach Composition Writing

This week The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are teaching children how to write compositions. That is when we’re not editing and proofreading and having conference calls about our soon to be released 4 Moms parenting ebook.

See how the rest of the ladies on the 4 Mom teach teach composition writing:

When I taught in the public school system, the teacher would give the class a daily prompt for writing practice. It would usually be something totally realistic and relevant to life and living in the actual world like, “What if you woke up one morning to find a dinosaur in your back yard?” or “Write a story about a kitten who thinks he is a duck.” or “What if your fork made friends with your spoon? Write a story about it.”

So, when I began homeschooling my children I tried, I really did, to give them dumb, I mean deep and thoughtful writing prompts like those above. And you would not believe the amount of whining and bawling and squalling they did about those assignments. The thing is that since I am a mother of 8, I am usually immune to whining and bawling and squalling and I proceed with whatever task needs to be completed regardless of the amount of disdain for it.

Only this time, the children would include complaints mixed in with the whining that actually made sense to me. Complaints like, “WHY do we have to write an entire page on THAT?” and “HOW would we know the kitten thinks he’s a duck?”

That’s about the time I stopped making them write compositions on ridiculous topics made up by employees of curriculum companies who obviously need to lay off the prescription pain killers.

I began having them write letters to friends or summarize portions of history texts or stories we read.

I did worry that their skills would be insufficient and that I wasn’t requiring enough from them. So I forced them to take the composition portion of the TAKS test, and then we all read aloud the scoring samples from real live students so we could compare how they were doing with their age mates.

Here is one of those samples from a 10th grader. The prompt was “Tell about a time you depended on someone else”.

We took turns reading this aloud, trying our best not to take a breath or pause until we got to that one lonely punctuation mark halfway down the page. (It wasn’t easy. You should try it!) After we rolled around on the floor laughing and wiping the tears from our eyes, I suddenly felt better about the compositions my children write.

Occasionally, one of them will leave out punctuation or not remember about indenting paragraphs, and instead of handing them worksheets with problem after problem of that kind, I just say, “Dude. Punctuation tells me when to take a breath.” or “Paragraphs are for grouping like ideas. Show me where the ideas are similar by indenting.”

And that is that.

Since we do a lot of reading aloud and all of my children love to read on their own, their vocabulary is extensive and they pick up a lot of grammar rules without drilling them.

How do you teach composition writing?

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Comments

  1. “we never going to be friends no more” … Where do they find these students?

    • Julia Anderson says:

      They probably found this student in a black inner city school. Rejoice that you have the opportunity to teach your children, and that they are surrounded by a culture of literacy. Then think of ways you can help others who don’t have that.

  2. When I was in school that never would have flown either by my teachers or my parents. Now that I’m home schooling I stress the punctuation, grammar, etc with my children – I don’t want them being laughed at some day.

  3. Jennifer Coulter says:

    I love it! It makes what I’m doing in our homeschool class make sense.
    We have “Write -It Wednesdays”–the kids write a letter to someone—a thank you card to friends/family for gifts, a sympathy card, a seasonal card etc. They love it and who doesn’t like to get mail!

  4. We write letters, emails, journals, short stories about secret passages or whatever we find interesting. Just like you, I found that following the curriculum’s suggestions produced much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Reading really is the gateway to writing, so we spend a lot of time reading alone and together. Thank you for making me feel much more comfortable about my approach to this. It’s a joy to find that one is not alone :)

  5. LOL, my 5th grader came home shortly after school started and had to write a story about being a sweater, or the life of a sweater? Also about being a shoe? She was very creative, we all laughed so hard as she read them to us! I plan to start homeschooling in the fall and will try to mix the real life writing with the fun writing.

    • I know I am replying to myself, I just wanted to add that these theme’s that seem to make no sense are suppose to help find and cultivate the imagination and the imaginative writer in a large classroom. Obviously different from the home classroom. My oldest and I are both writers and enjoy these types of theme’s. It is perfectly normal for a large group of these(school aged) kids to hate these assignments. Just a point that if the teacher’s didn’t assign them, the kids who love it might never know they have a talent in this area.
      Also you can do these creative things as a non writing assignments to keep the kids thinking and busy in the car. Pick up a “theme” see if one of the kids can get the story started then hand it arround and see where it goes. Thinking outside the box is not easy for every kid but has many applications outside of just writing. If you can get them to embrace the idea I bet they have you laughing so hard you have to pull over and tell them it is not safe to be so funny while you are driving:D

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