Is Your Homeschooler's Writing on Track?

We all need to step back and take stock now and then. This should start, above all, by sitting down with your students and having a conversation about their writing. How do they feel about the curriculum you’ve been using? Do they feel like they are making improvements as a writer (even small ones count!)? If they could change anything about writing in homeschool, what would it be? What writing goal(s) would they like to set for themselves to achieve by the end of the school year?

Once you’ve gotten that feedback from your children, it’s time to ask yourself the same type of questions, and then compare your answers. That combined information will help you to not only get a better picture of exactly where your students are with their writing skills, but to also strategize on ways to make your instruction even better going forward.

Writing Assessment Checklists by Grade Level

It’s extremely important to note that every child is unique and progresses at an individual pace with every skill learned. However, there are some recommended touchstones that may be helpful to you, as a parent, in determining whether there are any specific gaps in your homeschooler’s proficiency that need to be addressed.

Below are some general checklists by grade-level of writing aptitudes that are expected in the traditional educational system.  Keep in mind, however, that part of the beauty of homeschooling is that families get to customize this type of timetable to meet their own children’s specific needs and aptitudes.

Lower Elementary Writing Skills Goals

understand how print connects with spoken language
understand rudimentary capitalization and punctuation rules
begin grouping sentences together to create paragraphs
learn how to write contractions (such as “wouldn’t” for “would not”)
start to write compound sentences
use descriptive language such as adverbs and adjectives in their writing

Elementary Grammar Help

Upper Elementary Writing Skills Goals

understand how to write differently for different outcomes (e.g., narrative vs. expository writing)
begin to use writing to accomplish a purpose (e.g., writing to persuade, writing to inform)
practicing using the writing process (prewriting, planning, drafting, editing, and revising) when completing writing assignments
show basic control of subject-verb agreement

Elementary Informative Writing Help

Middle School Writing Skills Goals

continued improvement in applying the rules of grammar
creating complex sentence types such as compound sentences
familiarity with all parts of the writing process
using verbs comfortably in all tenses
summarizing in writing information that was read or heard
constructing a multi-paragraph essay

Middle School Essay Writing Help

High School Writing Skills Goals

easily moving from one style of writing to another depending on goal (e.g., moving from narrative to informative writing)
maintaining appropriate tone when writing (e.g., writing one way when texting and another way when writing an academic assignment)
a strong grasp of general grammar and mechanics when writing
proper formatting of formal writing with introduction, body, and conclusion
using descriptive language, sentence variety, and strong word choice to create writing that will engage the reader
using research to write an informative report and being able to cite the sources used

High School Research Paper Help

Why Homeschool Writing Evaluations Are Tricky

The truth is, however, that before you even have one of those checkboxes marked, you and your homeschooler will probably have dealt with one of the most challenging aspects of home writing instruction: giving writing feedback. Nothing will turn a burgeoning young author into a reluctant writer like having Mom or Dad criticize an assignment.

Writing, unlike many other academic endeavors, is an incredibly personal venture. It is like opening a door to one’s brain, and letting others see what’s inside. Students are at their most vulnerable when they are receiving feedback (positive or negative) on what they’ve written. One of the chief parent complaints we hear at Time4Writing is that grading or even evaluating a child or teen’s writing often leads to power struggles and hard feelings.

How to Help Your Homeschooled Writer

If homeschool writing has been affecting your parent/child relationship, we highly recommend exploring Time4Writing as an alternative option. Each eight-week course is led by a certified writing teacher who is not only able to guide your student to achieve the next level of writing excellence, but is also adept at providing encouraging and helpful feedback that your student will respond to.

Time4Writing also addresses distinct “gaps” that you may have discovered with your homeschool writing evaluation. It’s common for students to excel in many areas of writing while struggling with one or two specific trouble areas. For example, your homeschooler may be able to aptly write a paragraph with a defined beginning, middle, and end, but he or she might forget to use descriptive or colorful language that keeps the reader engaged. We offer courses at all grade levels that target any skill deficits you may have recognized in your homeschooler.

Taking stock of where your student is with his or her progress as a writer is an important way to ensure that he or she will be prepared for the next stage of writing instruction. If you’d like more information on how Time4Writing can help your homeschooler meet his or her writing goals, contact us today.