Reading and Writing

The girls and I have had a bit of a re-think about their schoolwork.

I think we'd become a bit stale in what we were doing, or at least in our attitudes to what we were doing, and writing had become a real chore to them. My problem was trying to figure out how to teach them to write.

(People I meet often say to me: 'How on earth do you teach Maths? I could never do that!', but Maths is relatively easy to teach. There's a question, a method, and an answer which is right or wrong. What's much more difficult to teach is work that's subjective. When one of the girls hands me an essay-type question they've written, and I know I was looking for something different, it can be very difficult to point out where exactly they went wrong, and how exactly to put it right. Y'all with me?)

They read a fair amount, but we were talking about the way in which they read, and we reckon they must become more purposeful in their reading. 

There is a curled-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-cuppa type of reading. That's ideal for evenings or Saturdays or holidays. But I think the girls were in that mode, regardless of what they were reading.

To learn how to write in different styles, I think they need to become more purposeful in their reading; and more aware of the different styles they come across in different types of reading materials. 

For example, a newspaper column is written in a specific way. By reading these columns, and by becoming aware of how they are written will aid them in their writing in this style.

A biography has a specific style - depending on the type of biography it is. Again, whether it's a style they enjoy or not, being aware of the different styles will help them become aware in their own writing.

Even blogs: some posts are written to inform; others to amuse. Some are deep and meaningful; others are light-hearted and amusing. By doing more than skimming these, they can become aware of how sentence structure, sentence lengths, and types of punctuation are used to good effect. 

This is just one way in which we're going to try and aid their writing skills this year. We're calling it purposeful reading. 

Along with Andrew Pudewa's material, we're looking for major improvements.

I'll try and remember to let you all know whether it makes a difference or not. I really hope it does, because I'm running out of ideas with which to help them develop their writing skills.

Have any of you got ideas that worked for you? 


  1. Hi Anne,

    We use Andrew Pudewa's materials,too. Having Anna write with a purpose really helped her develop her writing skills. Sooooo, we began the blog Gardening For My Family. Ben loved reading old books, so we had to get him to stop writing like GA Henty! He seemed to write like the author he was reading the most! We also encouraged him to write editorials for our newspaper when a topic stirred his interest. Having said all that.....I think it is tough teaching writing, but oh so necessary!

  2. Hi! I came across your blog from reading your comments on another blog we both read - O'Connor Home. (I appreciate your comments.)

    I teach writing at a very small private school, where we also use Andrew Pudewa's program. I really like how he stresses to keep 'hands off content' but 'hands on structure.' Something we've found is that if the students enjoy the topics they're writing about, they are more eager to write.

    Nice to 'meet' you! :-)

  3. I need to remember the book series we used I will ask the children we did try a different one at one point that they enjoyed but for the life of me I can't think of the name. We used Weaver for the main context of homeschool and the English is worked right in the program and Grammar is found in 2 separate books. In the upper grades of the Weaver program they write a lot of essays I found the essay writing to be very helpful particularly because there is a specific format you follow for this. If I find out that book series I will pass on the name to you. I also used the website Currclick.com to buy smaller unti studies if I found I needed to change it up a bit. They even have a free section on their website. I also have a huge file of classic literature study guides to go along with the book maybe I could email you one and you could see if that might be useful? if your interested just send me an email heatheradrianwatts@gmail.com ~Good luck with your schooling Love Heather

  4. I will be interested to know how you get on with the Andrew Pudewa programme. I've vaguely looked at it but wasn't sure that it was right age-wise or would work for ds and to be honest, was put off by the price. Having said that, am reconsidering, probably for next year, as I have heard some recommendations.


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