Saturday 29 September 2012

HHSC - Writing and Composition in High School

  1. What place do you see writing have in your high schoolers education?
    • Personally I think that as home educators we underestimate the importance of this vital means of communication.  I believe that being able to communicate well via written communication is as important a skill as that of learning to swim.
    • Looking back I have come to realise that as home schoolers we seem to have a culture of not pushing our children to write as much as they are expected to in school. This in turn breeds an attitude in our children of I don't need to do that because I am not in school.  
    • I have learned that you need to start as you intend to finish.  If you want your high schooler to be a writer then you need your Junior school student to write without complaint and to do this you need to equip yourself with a plan of action.
  2. Do you use a writing program?
    • Yes I do.  My passion for writing programs and one that I recommend to every new homeschooler I meet is from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I love this program for it's ease to use, the fact that all the teaching and preparation work is already done and all I need to do is pop the DVD into the player and watch Andrew teach my students.  It is progressive and each lesson builds on the lesson from before.
  3. What approach do you use?
    • In this area I agree with Charlotte Mason and Karen Andreola's approach. If a student can not express themselves verbally through narration then they will not be able to express themselves with ease on paper. 
    • Working on narration skills in the early grades certainly pays high dividends in the high school years with the fruit of a student who is able to "Attend, remember, visualize, comprehend, synthesize (see the whole from the parts), and articulate as the result." A Charlotte Mason Companion page 115.
    • Narration helps a child to train his/her mind to "sort, arrange, correlate, select, reject and classify" information. A Charlotte Mason Companion page 115.
    • "Narration develops the power of self expression and forces the child to use his own mind and form his own judgement." - Karen Andreola A Charlotte Mason Companion page 114
    • I adopted Andrew Pudawa's advice to be my children's dictionary in the younger years. This meant that when they asked how to spell a word I told them. In this way my student practiced the correct way of spelling a word rather than the wrong way. I found when they guessed the spelling (which invariably meant incorrect spelling it resulted in months of practice to undo the incorrect spelling.
    • Once my children could physically write and had a basic level of reading I added in copy work.  This served two purposes one they learned to spell new words and two they practiced excellent sentence style and structure along with the benefit of correct grammar.
    • In the younger years my approach is daily copy work of excellent writing.  
    • As the student matures and is able to handle more work I added in weekly work from the IEW Student Writing Intensive programme.  
    • I have used both the introductory and continuation courses.  I have found that the introductory more than equipped my students with the tools they needed to complete many different assignments.
  4. Which ‘tools’ did you use in the younger years that helped prepare your high schooler to write and prepare them to join "the Great Conversation"?
    • I started off with equipping myself with a deeper understanding of writing and style by attending the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style. I found that by having an understanding of how to compose a story / research paper equipped me to plan how to teach my students as well as assist them in accomplishing this task at hand.
    • Second on my list was reading great literature so that my students became familiar with an excellent range of vocabulary.
    • The third thing was make sure that they could spell and spell well. I started my students on the Explode the Code books (we did the first six books) and from here progressed to Spelling Workout books A - H (The Curriculum Choice has a great review of this product)
    • We did not do any specific grammar courses other than read and copy excellent literature.

This post is part of the Homeschool High School Carnival.  Don't forget to pop on over to Take Up and Read next week to read what others are saying about this topic.

What are your thoughts on composition and your high school student ?



  1. I found this post VERY helpful. I have often wondered if I should be requiring MORE from my highschoolers.

    Off to follow a couple of your links. :o)

  2. Hi Chareen! Awesome blog! I am adding you to the Totally Awesome Homeschool Blogs! Happy homeschooling and blogging!

    1. Thank you Tamara. Love the look of the new blog. Will be popping over regularly to see what's new :)

  3. So agree with all you said for Q1! We have very familiar approaches:)


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