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.