It's been a long haul over the years. While we are in high school, I realize that some of you are in different places in the journey of homeschooling. I hope my honest discussion of this struggle will be a comfort for you if you are struggling or insecure, and for those just starting out, I hope you find encouragement and some ideas you can use as well.
The age of your child certainly will dictate some of what you will and won't try. But this one idea is certain, keep trying! Another is to keep it as much fun as possible. My boy will tell you that I am not fun! But in my humble defense, I have tried to keep it fun~but remember this is an area of weakness and none of us likes hitting on a "soft spot" of which this Mama has done for all these years now...so I really don't expect him to think I am fun or to thank me right now~BUT I am looking ahead...to days when he will...when he can function and do well at life~literate and educated! It would be sooo easy to take the tact of saying, "awww, he's not 'college material' and "well, he is so hands on~we just didn't push"...or even, "shop activities were his thing, we just let the other stuff slide..." Please hear me on this: I am sure I will have hit a nerve in my opinion I am giving, but my reasons are thus: We MUST educate our children! The education we give has to be encompassing to a place that it brinks to the top of their abilities. This is a tall order I know...but I encourage you to consider your child's life without the ability to effectively communicate on paper the written words he may need to convey as an adult in a writing society...Yes, history does document the excellence of writing in our society~just read our founders and those who were educated throughout the centuries! OK...so I've said it~let's educate our strugglers and all our littles to excellence! NOW on to some fun ideas:
1. Play some games~what have you got? Scrabble, Boggle, Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Trivial Pursuit? We even like Monopoly and Uno for strategy as well as card games...but the word and knowledge based games are so useful...Chess...checkers...play play play!
2. For basic skills in phonics, I devised a simple game for my hands on learner...he was in kindergarten at the time and learning vowel sounds and blends...I made flash cards out of file cards and putting them in a random pattern on the floor, he hopped while making the sounds. He liked it and it helped him learn them.
3. Writing games~story starters is a fun way...take out a sheet of notebook paper or for your young child, you be the scribe so the emphasis is on the ideas not all the skills associated with writing all at once...begin the story with a made up statement that needs an ending: "There was a kitty who..." and let your child finish...Then you can go onward to expand the story. Once you have a short nice story, you can have your child use this story as copy work. A method for this is to scribe your child's thoughts on his age level appropriate writing paper every other line...the second line is for his copywork right below yours. Remember to model beautiful writing for him, printed properly in a style that fits with good sound instruction. You must model what you desire in your learner ;-)) This is so true in all of our lives with our children! So with this said, you can also have him illustrate the story as well. This gives great extensions to your child's story and creative efforts!
4. Journaling is another great way to write everyday that will bring composing together with mechanics. Funny that we began trying to journal long before he was ready...I got short snippet sentences like: "I love a cat." I have a cat." My cat is good." But eventually through praise and then requiring a number of sentences I KNEW he could write, and numbers of words I knew he could use, I encouraged him and REQUIRED longer sentences: My instructions: Write five sentences five words each. Each sentence is about something different. These were after quite a while of continuing to teach sentence writing and scribing his ideas and him doing copywork. It's a process, and I used loads of praise and reward for his hard work! In fact, today I STILL tell him ALL the wonderful things he has done in excellence FIRST before I EVER share any corrections that need to be made...I know that he has worked sooo hard...soooo diligent...and I want him to KNOW that I know and value his efforts!!! Convey this to your learner too! Don't we all go a little further when we feel loved and valued for our efforts??!
5. Silly Songs~does your child like music? Make up silly sentence songs to tunes you know or tunes you can make up~Have fun! MAKE it fun! The hard part will come later when it's essay writing time and the steps are in place so that an essay will form. This is where we are today...and why I have posted my incramental instructions that I am giving each day to get an essay a week...
Remember that writing is truly a process. One thing I learned in college is that editing is what will make a writer's work excel, but the one thing I learned about writing from life is that a true writer or a natural writer will just write, because "writer's write!" I have a natural writer who writes up a storm and then I have a reluctant writer, but both are becoming capable writers~effective and prepared...it's a process of becoming~even with such as skill as writing!
Play on towards writing~teaching your child toward excellence and being educated!