Easy Ways to Teach Writing from Preschool up!
February 28, 2018
This past week we had a short survey to find out why you enjoy reading The Homeschool Minute (Mamas, you so encouraged our hearts!) AND to find out who your favorite authors were so that we could send them a little “thank you” gift. The results were astounding!
First of all, thank you so much for thinking I'm such a good writer. It's all the Lord working through me, but this Mama needed those sweet words. Second, you had some fantastic things to say about THM and TOS—so sweet—so needed!

“I read The Homeschool Minute because I am reminded why I homeschool. It helps me focus and keep grounded. I am strengthened and encouraged to persevere. It gives me perspective and helps me understand that there are thousands to millions of other families with a similar goal—which, in turn, gives me hope for the next generation. It leaves me excited to see what God has in store for the future of our families and our country.” -Jacqui

Without further ado—Drumroll!

1st Place: Todd Wilson, The Familyman

2nd Place: Hal and Melanie Young, Raising Real Men

Thought you might enjoy reading a few Mamas' comments about these two:

“My favorite contributor is Todd Wilson. I love his down to earth, real style and the ‘permission’ he gives to just stay true to yourself instead of worrying about what the world says you should be doing. He gives his readers such grace, and it is a welcome breath of fresh air.” - Adriane

“Come now . . . how can I choose only one?! Honestly, they are all great and all appreciated. I often get a good chuckle from Todd's posts which are needed.” - Christina (Canada)

“Hal & Melanie . . . they are so funny, and raising a house full of boys, like myself, I can relate.” - Yvie

“Hal & Melanie Young – Raising Real Men – we have two daughters (our older 2 children) so we’ve geared things towards girls for a while, but then we had a little boy come along. I want to make sure we’re doing things in school that are geared more for him and raising him to be a ‘real man.’” - Jeff (a homeschool dad)

And these are just a few of the wonderful comments you left! I heard good feedback on the chocolate, too! So good in fact, that I’m sending a chocolate bar to every member of the THM team as well as every contributing author for THM. They all do an awesome job—and deserve chocolate, don’t they? 

Thank you for choosing to keep your kiddos home where they belong. I know some days it isn't easy (downright impossible—been there) but it is worth the journey—so worth it! Keep your head up, daughter of the King. You are why we do what we do.
Mercy Every Minute  
I had my non-readers narrate to me what they heard, learned, or observed. I wrote their words down for them, as this freed up their mind to think and not worry about the act of writing. They enjoyed this process and were proud of their finished product. As they get older, they write about what they are reading. We change it up and write poetry, letters, and devotions. In high school, we concentrate on factual and persuasive essays. 

I have learned that if we do a little, and then a little more, and stay consistent, we can teach our children to write well. 

God is a writer. And what He has written is the best writing in the world. Have your children study God the Writer! Why did He write? What did He write? To whom did He write? How can we write like Him? 

Teaching writing, and homeschooling in general, can be challenging. But because we know why we have our children home, and because we know the Scriptures we stand on about home education , it is a challenge we choose to love.

In the chaos, I choose contentment and grace. I love joyful obedience in my children, and God loves it in me. And when I am weak, His strength strongly supports me. 

I know you value your children more than anyone on this earth ever could, and I know you want the very best for them. YOU are the very best for them. I don’t even have to give you all the statistics out there to prove that—you already know it in your heart. 

When you feel like you are in survival mode, trying to make it through one more day, remember how quickly the years fly. Instead of these years being the “survival” years, change them to the “revival” years. God is reviving a generation that is joyfully obeying His commands and raising a revived generation that will honor Him with their lives. 

Sing unto Him . . . talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually. (1 Chronicles 16:9-11)

I value my children and our relationship together. God values me and my relationship with Him. Both are a challenge to maintain, but it is love that keeps me coming back for more. 

Keep loving, keep serving, keep obeying. Keep them Home Where They Belong.


Katie Furlong
In my house, teaching writing to preschoolers has nothing to do with the alphabet, paper, and pencils. That comes later. In my house, teaching writing to preschoolers has everything to do with lots and lots of fine motor activities. 

The preschoolers use a variety of fun and appealing fine motor activities to keep them interested and engaged. These activities are always available to allow the children the opportunity to practice and repeat activities as much as they want. We all know how much young children love repetition! Activities like spooning, sorting, using tongs to sort small objects, plant care, stacking tiny blocks, using scissors, playdoh, stringing beads, and finger painting all help preschoolers to develop and refine their fine motor skills.

Additionally, these fine motor activities assist the preschooler to develop hand eye coordination, order, concentration, and patience—all essential skills for being successful at writing. 
Once my children have developed strong fine motor skills, I offer them various opportunities to learn how to write (such as a tray with sand to use their fingers or a paint brush to copy a letter, a small chalk board with chalk, a white board and dry erase marker, and crayons with paper). This gives the preschoolers ample opportunity to choose the method they want to learn how to write. It keeps things interesting and fun for preschoolers. Once it is time to hold a pencil and write on paper the method I use varies per child. Some children that I have taught to print can copy a letter onto paper very easily.

Some children need to start printing by tracing the letter and some children need dotted lines to trace.

While I am teaching the preschoolers to write, I always teach them the letter sounds before the actual letter. The reason for this is because once I start to teach the children to build words we begin with simple 3 letter phonetic words. As soon as the children know the letter sounds, building words comes naturally with little effort and minimal frustration. 

One of the many great aspects of homeschooling is that as your children’s teacher and parent you have the knowledge of what works for them, the flexibility to tailor their learning to suit their needs, and the time to allow the children to work at their own pace.

Katie Furlong is a busy homeschooling mother of 4 children. She is currently parenting at every stage: toddler, preschooler, tween, and teen. She has an Early Childhood Education diploma, is also a trained Montessori Teacher, and a certified Neurofeedback Practitioner. Katie and her 4 children live on a hobby farm where they keep bees, ducks, chickens, 2 lazy cats, and a big yellow dog. When she is not chasing children, she likes to fix up her 159-year-old farmhouse,  write , and cook to create new allergy friendly recipes. Katie may also have an  essential oil  addiction and need an intervention.
Debra Bell, PhD 
One of the great mysteries facing homeschool parents is how to teach kids to write—it is the number one question I've gotten over the years. We make this task harder than it needs to be. Writing is the process of transforming what we think into words. That   process is the one reason kids need to write. 
1. Writing is a brain-building exercise. "I don't know what to write!" We've all heard this complaint and experienced it ourselves. Yes, that is the issue—we don't know what we think, what we believe, what we know, or what we understand. The real power in writing comes from struggling to find the words to express our thoughts. That is when the brain is churning—making connections, pondering questions, sorting and classifying details and experiences—all in an attempt to figure out what it is we have to say. Tell your kids this truth—every moment you spend drafting and refining that essay or story is building a bigger brain. The more you write, the faster your brain will work. 
2. Writing is your child's intellectual history. The stories, essays, and reports your children create as they grow will become the archives of their childhood. The writing portfolios my own four children produced during our homeschooling years are among my most precious possessions. This amazing journey toward adulthood is worth capturing and treasuring forever. 
3. Writing gives voice to each child's individuality. If there is one thing God obviously loves, it is our diversity. Throughout Creation, we see the abundance of His creative spirit overflowing—no two snowflakes alike, no end to the different species of plants and animals we discover. God is more glorified when we put what makes us unique on display. Forget about assigning those formulaic essays you also hated writing when you were in school. Rather focus on helping your kids express with words what only they have thought, experienced, or imagined. We need the God-given voice of each child to be captured, polished, and shared. 
Language is an amazing grace from God and a gift to steward and revel in. Skill and confidence in crafting words will open doors for your children and help lead them into their futures. 
Receive a free Joy of Homeschooling e-book and two free sample chapters from Writers in Residence by visiting https://blog.apologia.com/writersinresidence
Debra Bell is the author of Apologia's writing curriculum, Writer's in Residence™.
I’m not a marketing guy. If I were, the ONE word I would use on every product, service, and item that I offer would be - EASY. After all, everyone wants easy . . . and the easier the better. Just take a little stroll down the end caps at Wal-Mart, and you’ll be barraged by the products that scream, “Use me and your task will be easier!” 

Being the skeptic that I am, I feel the need to say out loud when confronted by the clever marketing ploy . . . “Yeah, right!” because I know the truth: if it sounds too good to be true . . . it is.

BUT every once in a while, I fall prey to the promise . . . and then end up feeling stupid and disappointed because it didn’t deliver on its promise.

If there’s a group that loves the word EASY even more than your average joe, it's homeschooling moms. We want EASY . . . an EASY curriculum, EASY tricks to obedience, and per the topic today, an EASY way to teach writing.

Here’s my experience: if it sounds too good to be true—you know. As much as I love Andrew Pudewa and his writing program, it’s NOT easy. You still have to make the kid sit down, listen, map out the course, help along the way, and check your child’s progress. Oh, there are some kids who make it easier . . . because they already know how to write. God gave them that skill, and we don’t get to take credit for that.

Then there are the kids who hate to write . . . who have trouble capturing their thoughts on paper. You still have to plug . . . and fight . . . and cry, but you don’t have to blame yourself for their lack of skills because God gave them skill sets as well (and He doesn’t give everyone EVERY skill).

So why don’t you just throw the word EASY right out of your vocabulary right now. Teaching writing isn’t easy . . . nor is much of homeschooling (or parenting for that matter). But it is worth it! AND it can be enjoyable. All you need to do is plug away, don’t get caught up with measuring your progress by an artificial standard, and embrace the fact that some of your children will be good writers and some will NOT.

Your job is to smile, like your children for who they are, and keep on plugging.

Be real,

PS - Speaking of NOT easy: check out this EASY read, Family is Hard - Deal with It. If you’re facing a really hard time in your marriage, parenting, or homeschooling life, this is the book you need.  Check it out.
Kerry Tittle 
Finding a writing curriculum can be a bit like finding cough and cold medicine at the pharmacy. The options seem to be endless and very overwhelming. They are probably all very good; you just have the job of picking out the one that is most “tailored” to the individual using it. 

However, I have found in my twenty years of homeschooling that most of our writing successes came about by sheer accident! Here are a few tips we have incorporated:

Create an environment of literary appreciation—This builds creativity in your children. From infancy I read to my children, told stories, had them make up stories, and listened to audiobooks long before they could ever read. This was not school; this was a family lifestyle—even to the point of making movies with actors (stuffed animals, LEGO creations, etc.) Have fun! We have had pretty insane moments with Mad Libs-type games in the car, at the lunch table, or just on a walk.

Read—This should be obvious, but good writers are readers. If they are not exposed to good writing, they will not be able to detect poor writing. This also sharpens their editing skills. 

Variety—I had a daughter who would spend all her time reading historical fiction or historical biographies. Nothing wrong with that, but make sure there is a category cycle such as development (like speaking), human interest, or spiritual formation in addition to their preferences.

Journaling—Once they get into the habit of expressing their thoughts through writing, other writing projects become easier.

Notebook—Buy them small notebooks to carry around with them. When they hear a word or phrase or have an idea, have them jot it down. When they have writer’s block, this notebook can serve as a prompt.

People—Encourage them to think about what they would write about people they meet. Teach them the art of gentle interrogation! Learning to draw out of a person and write about it is an exceptional gift.

Once we were at a convention and a woman came up to me and told me she couldn’t get her son to read, and he hated writing. My daughter gave me a confused look; she didn’t even know that was an option! She grew up tripping over books and pencils—she couldn’t imagine life differently.

It’s harder now to keep their minds engaged in this sort of mindset in the technological world, but I assure you, the time invested is worth it and will have lasting benefits. 

Kerry Tittle is a mother of nine children and a 20-year homeschool veteran. She was the owner of ReformationKidz with her husband Rob until a tornado destroyed their home and business in 2014, taking the lives of Rob and two of their daughters, Tori and Rebekah. Kerry is the founder of  Refined Family , which is created to encourage others to find hope in the gospel in the midst of trials.
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Staying Relational   
Dear Friends,

To teach writing, it’s helpful to see how professional writers do what they do.

So, with the background of having written or contributed to seventeen published books over nearly thirty years, let me share a few tips:

  1. “Write what you know” is great advice.
  2. A well-written piece, like a delicious stew, requires “simmering” time.
  3. Learning this skill grows step-by-step and experience-by-experience.

Write What You Know
Writing, no matter what your age, is hard work. So, with that in mind, ease the difficulty by having your children write something they find interesting, motivating, or a-story-worth-telling:
  • How the dog knocked over the lamp.
  • Why I like eating cookies.
  • What it felt like to ride my bicycle.

For very young children, capture the emotion and excitement of their story by recording it on a phone or computer. Then, if you will type out a basic transcript for them, they suddenly will see how their spoken words translate to the written page! It’s a magical moment, worth the effort.

For children who are comfortable with holding a pencil, writing words and sentences, try recording the story first. Then, together, make a basic outline of the elements—narrowing it down to the most important parts that need to be told. With this outline, let your students try writing a sentence for each point. 

This leads to the next tip:

Simmering Time
Once you’ve written something, it’s important to walk away. Give your brain a break, think about something else, take a walk, or even sleep on it. When you come back to what you’ve written with fresh eyes and an invigorated brain, it will be much easier to see how to edit what you’ve done—and EVERY piece of writing will require editing!

This is as important for beginning writers (from preschool and up) as it is for professional writers. Don’t require your children to “finish” writing a piece (unless they are merely copying something) on the same day that they started it. Let it simmer for them, too.

Which brings us to the final tip:

When it comes to writing, your child will be impacted by frustration or enjoyment, by pressure or freedom, by the sense of failure or success. So, be very aware of your child’s experience in each writing exercise. If there is frustration, stop and analyze what is causing the frustration. If there is pressure, figure out how to reduce it. If a child feels like a failure, recognize that something about the experience needs to change—whether an easier topic, more interaction and discussion with you, using pictures for part of the story, whatever causes their eyes to light up with the possibilities.

This is not a race. This is not a competition. 

Remember, stay relational.


P.S. If you’re hungering for a richer, more relational homeschool experience, please join my newly launched “Mastering the Art of Homeschooling” weekly mentoring e-mail.


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Learning to think creatively and communicate those thoughts clearly is a critical skill in today’s world. It is required in jobs, ministry, and social interactions, which is why SchoolhouseTeachers.com has 18 courses dedicated to helping your children learn to write well. We also offer a library of more than 1,500 daily writing prompts to encourage students’ creativity, thinking skills, and writing skills. These prompts can make your student stretch their imagination, even when writing about normal everyday things. With all the choices included in one family-sized membership, you can find a course that works for the way your child learns.

If you haven’t yet joined SchoolhouseTeachers.com, come give us a try. You can try the entire site for 30 days for $5! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. We look forward to serving you and your family! 

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of February

Morty the Meerkat Has Autism

I will admit I had never heard of autism before until I watched a character on a popular show act the same exact way my little kiddo was acting at the time. We had been struggling in silence for nearly four years, thinking it was just us. I remember thinking in my head as I sat out in the pediatrician’s waiting room that I must be crazy to make an appointment based off a tv show. But, I did, and I was right, my boy had a diagnosis and my eyes were opened to a whole new world--a crowded, yet lonely world. autism is so prevalent, yet the average person knows nothing about it, not to mention young children who may encounter a child on the spectrum at school or the park, only to be scared or confused by their behavior. I will admit my son can be found on a playground making "bark angels" and never look or speak to a soul out at the park, if I can even get him out to the park. 

You know I often wish that I could educate everyone we meet but given the circumstance that’s not always possible. Also, how do you break autism down to a level that even a young child could get some sense of what it’s all about? Luckily, several weeks ago I was able to review a children’s book written by J.L. Avis, called Morty the Meerkat has Autism . I was surprised, hopeful, and could not wait to read it with my 10-year-old son. 

After reading this book a handful of times, I have to say the overall thoughts are all positive. The story begins kind of like most ASD discoveries. Morty’s parents noticed some differences in him compared to his siblings. Differences like he didn’t want to be hugged, touched, or wouldn’t look at others when they talked to him. Morty’s siblings and friends noticed his behavior and had questions regarding the reason behind his actions. You can easily see how frustrating it can be when you are trying to communicate with an autistic person who does not know how to communicate back to you. ( . . .

I thought this was a terrific way to put some positive light on autism, and share what it’s like to be on the spectrum. To show others, especially children, that it’s ok to be different; if you have autism hold your head up and be proud of your strengths and instead of focusing on your weaknesses. ( Read the rest of the review.

Elle the Little Lost Wombat

I am always looking for ways to really make the kids “visit” places we are studying in geography. Recently, we had the opportunity to review the book Elle the Little Lost Wombat , by Sharon Bracken. It opened up a whole new discussion between the girls and me about international adoption and the feelings of children that are being adopted.

Elle is a little Wombat who loses her parents very suddenly. She is forced to leave her home and move into an orphanage. Of course, this is a very frightening experience for Elle. She not only is very sad because of losing her parents, but now she must live in a strange place that is not as nice as the home she was living in. Life in the orphanage is very different. She has to live in a large room with other wombats, and no privacy. Her clothes do not fit, and she has no toys to play with. Her sadness turns to anger as she goes through the grieving process. It’s very stressful for Elle.

Elle saw so many other wombats be adopted, but she remains at the orphanage. Would she ever find a new home? Did she want to find a new home? Finally, one day, Elle meets a family that has traveled to take her home. But they do not speak the same language. Elle becomes scared again. While they are at the orphanage, there is someone to translate. She loves the visits of this new family. But after Elle travels to her new country and home to live, there are new challenges to face. ( . . . )

Life is different in her new home. But she finally has her own room and new clothes that fit! She has plenty to eat. Elle is very scared though. But she soon realizes that her new family is scared also. They just want her to be happy because they love her. ( . . . )

Elle the Little Lost Wombat is a great addition for families that are going through the process of international adoption or even if you just want to help your child to understand how adopted children can feel. ( Read the rest of the review. )

YOU can WIN these two books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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