Don't make the mistake of discontinuing to read to your readers. Once your children are independent readers, your job isn't done. You can still read books that are just beyond your child's reading or comprehension ability and explain things along the way. Reading-aloud even to your teens builds family relationships and gives everyone something in common to talk about. It builds vocabulary effortlessly, which translates into students who have an easier time of writing. It's just plain worth the time to do it.
Some of our best homeschool memories were the shared books we read-aloud. For older children, 12 years old and up, I recommend the series of books by James Herriot, who was a veterinarian in Yorkshire, England in the 20th century. The first one is All Creatures Great and Small. In them, he relates his experiences, many of which are hilarious in his dealings with animals, his boss, his boss' brother, farmers, and other people.
They are a bit graphic at times (he was a vet of large animals after all), and that is why it would be better to wait until your children are older before you read these aloud. There is also a series of books for children, which I don't think are quite as good as his original books that these stories are culled from. If they are young, just wait on this one.
Good writers are nurtured. Many avenues exist to do that, but the key element is fun. How do you make writing fun? That is the wrong question. Writing is already fun but not everyone has discovered that.
I love to play games and what kid doesn't? One of my favorite "word games" is Origin. I am not very good at it because it requires keeping a straight face when offering up my explanation as to how something got started. It has to be believable and yet at the same time, it shouldn't sound like the correct answer, not if you want to earn points. It's hilarious good fun that gives players an opportunity to be creative while listening to others' attempts at fooling you with their explanations.
It's a consistent, steady diet of having fun with words and language that makes it easier for children to write stories and reports.
I teach young people.
I teach young people how to write.
I teach young people how to write using IEW curriculum.
My focus is on individuals first and then the subject of writing and I have been doing so for over ten years now. Many good writing programs exist, but one of the ones that I use consistently is IEW because it produces stellar results with those students who regularly apply themselves to it. Further, it builds confidence, which I love to see!
In the most recent issue of "Arts of Language" (April 2021) produced by The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), Andrew Pudewa, the founder, has written an intriguing article, "You Don't Have to Like Writing" that resonated with me.
At first, you might think that liking something makes it easier, and surely, it does, but sometimes that just isn't possible. Fortunately, a student doesn't have to like writing to still be able to do it well. Pudewa mentions how he hears from many parents who want their children to "enjoy writing" however, he correctly explains that this is not guarantee-able, no matter the enthusiasm or skill of the teacher. The other goal parents have is for their children to be able to express themselves. Mr. Pudewa corrects their thinking on this by explaining that "writing is much more about expressing ideas than selves." To do that they must have the tools, which, of course are words and ideas.
It is critical that the environment be saturated with quality literature in the form of novels, poems, plays, biographies, history, Scripture, stories, etc... Young minds absorb the literary devices and sentence structure as well as ideas. I frequently remind my students that they must be reading a variety of material all the time. If they don't fill their minds, they will have nothing to draw from when it is time to write. Reading also fuels thinking. Isn't this what Charlotte Mason advocated all the time in her writings!! Yes! A literary-rich environment is a foundation of Mason's principles. Great educators do think alike.
Next, students must have tools to put their ideas into words and sentences, stories, and essays. They need strategies and techniques as well as models to imitate. They need guidance in how to approach the writing task, because for most, it is a task. Writing requires deep thinking. Writing is not easy, even for people who enjoy it. Although it is one of my goals to inspire students, the primary goal is developing competence which builds a well-earned confidence.
Where will you find me when I am not teaching?
For your reading pleasure!