Many students prefer to study math or science or history rather than read poems or stories. So how do you get them to write?
The best thing about teaching reading and writing, especially when a child is homeschooled, is that the student can learn to read and write by studying anything that interests him or her.
If you are interested in teaching reading and writing through the curricular area your child is most interested in, there is a logical sequence to use:
1. Read narratives about the subject. If you are teaching history, this is easy because all of history is a story. If you are teaching math or science, this may be a bit more difficult. Look through your textbook and find a mathematician or scientist and study his or her story. Better yet, research a mathematical or scientific discovery. If your child does not like to read, you may want to watch Through the Wormhole hosted by Morgan Freedman. This series explores scientific and mathematical ideas in a analytic manner, but each segment is told through narrative. A wonderful narrative about a woman’s experience as a scientist and with her personal experience with science is My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.
2. Write a narrative about the subject. Allowing a child to write their own story about the subject provides an opportunity for exploring the elements of writing a narrative: character, setting, obstacles and resolution. You may want to take the pressure off by suggesting your child write the narrative in the form of a children’s book. If you check out some books at the library written for children about science such as What is the World is Made of by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and Paul Meisel, this will give your child a model to follow.
3. Read biographies of famous people in the curricular area. Books such as My Inventions by Nikola Tessla provides students with an opportunity through autobiography to see inside an inventor’s thought processes, failures and successes.
4. Write a biography of a famous. Using the book, rewrite the biography in a format for children. The assignment provides the student with an opportunity to choose the most important parts of the biography, synthesize this information and compose the information for another reader.
5. Read research articles in the curricular area. For access to these types of articles, visit a local university or college library, or complete a search on Google Scholar. Type in keywords of interest, then search through the options. At a library, you will be directed to periodicals either in the library or on-line. Google Scholar may direct you to a pay site, but there will also be many article for free.
6. Write a review of the research read. By summarizing the research and then providing a criticism, compliment and suggestion for use, students will engage with research in a way which helps them understand how research is used.
7. Write a research article. The most advanced type of writing is for the student to propose a thesis, research the thesis and then argue for his or her thesis.
By reading and writing narrative, biographies, research, reviews and articles, your child will have learned to write in an area of curriculum which interests him or her.
* For guidelines for writing each type of these assignments, check out my book, Writing With Home.