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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
Fax: 503-253-7345
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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     Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

Table of Contents
Three-Part Series on The Basics
     Part 2:  Writing
     A.  Five Pre-Writing Skills
     B.  Four Types of Writing
     C.  Six Building Blocks of Writing
     D.  The Three-Step Writing Process
     E.  Editing Checklist
     F.  17 Online Writing Resources
     G.  Four Subjects Related to Writing
Recommended Resources
     Speedy Spanish
     Homeschool Cookbook
     AVKO Dyslexia Research Foundation
     American Reference Library
     Power-Glide's Junior French Course
     The Teaching Home Back Issues
Sunnyside Up: Humorous Anecdote


     The teaching of writing skills may be the most neglected of
the three Rs in both public and home schools.  In this issue you
will find specific and practical teaching tips to use in teaching
your children to write.
     To the degree we are serious about extending our Christian
influence and reflecting well on our Lord, to that degree we will
be serious about perfecting all of our communication skills.
     We must teach our children the skills to develop a lifestyle
of purposeful, helpful, and God-honoring writing.
     This also gives us an excellent reason to learn proper
spelling, grammar and word usage.  If our writing is careless and
unrefined, we reflect poorly upon our Lord and upon His truth.
     May the Lord bless your family for His glory!

Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 24-year-old, home-school family business.

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Books That Help Build Character -- Devotional, Missionary,
Christian Ethics, Puzzle, Coloring, Storybooks, Posters, Seatwork
and Spanish. Aids for teaching.

Is the next Julia Child or Emeril Lagasse Living Under Your
Roof?  Stimulate your child's imagination -- Create a love for cooking –
Kids Cooking System and free Recipe Club.

Three-Part Series on The Basics
Part 2:  Writing
     The three Rs (Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic) are basic
skills.  They must be thoroughly mastered in order for children
to acquire, use, and communicate knowledge in other subjects.
     These basics must also be constantly reviewed, and used, so
that they are retained.

A.  Five Pre-Writing Skills
     There are many things that you can do to prepare your
children to be excellent writers.  Spend as much time as
necessary at each of these levels.

1.  Reading
     Your child should first experience and respond to the
writing of others and learn to use spoken words expressively.
     As your child reads (or hears) fine literature with worthy
content and excellent style, he will pick up these standards for
his own expression.

2.  Observation and Description
     Teach your child to observe and describe various scenes and
events from his own experience.  This will lead to colorful
 *  Teach your child to substitute strong, vivid verbs (e.g., skip,
     stroll) and precise nouns (e.g., Dalmatian, limousine) for less
     expressive generic ones (e.g., walk, run, dog, car).
     Use a thesaurus and play games such as:
 *  Find as many specific verbs as possible for general verbs and
     nouns such as "walk" and "tree."
 *  Give your children sentences with blanks and have them fill
     in the blanks with strong, precise nouns and verbs.

3.  Oral Exercises
     Practice oral composition before using pencil and paper.  If
your child's verbal communication is poor, he may find writing
painful and counter-productive.
 *  Recall of facts after reading aloud.
 *  Order.  Ask questions to aid correct sequencing such as,
     "What happened next?"
 *  Descriptive Language.  Suggest a noun and have your child add
     different adjectives to describe it.
 *  Have your child expand a sentence by answering questions you
     ask about the subject.
 *  Ask questions designed to evoke sensory detail: What color was
     it?  How did it feel?  What did it sound, taste, or smell like?
 *  Oral Reports.  Subjects of personal interest and enthusiasm
     help your child's words flow.

4.  Daily Writing
     To write well, your children need to write often.  There is
something about just doing it that takes away writer's block and
makes writing a normal part of life.  Start with a few sentences
every day, such as the following:

Copy Work
     Just as beginning artists copy the masters to learn their
style, have your children copy, word for word, material you
select to model great thoughts and good writing.

     Various kinds of journals can be kept, including:
 *  Personal Journal.  Daily experiences and activities as well
     as personal thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
 *  Devotional Journal.  Sermon notes, Bible study, and prayer diary.
 *  Nature Journal.  Drawn and/or written descriptions of things
     observed in nature, plus facts obtained from research and copied
     or original poems.
 *  Correspondence Journal.  Written communication between you
     and your child.
 *  Reading Response Journal:  Notes, reactions, and evaluations
     of reading materials.
     Buy hardbound books or sewn composition books in which your
child can write both his copywork and journal entries to make special

5.  Frequent Discussions
     Teach and model how to apply biblical principles to
real-life issues and help your children develop their logical
thinking and communication skills.
     Family discussions can take the form of comparisons and
contrasts, explanation of a Christian position on an issue,
application of relevant Scripture, and/or persuasion to adopt
another position.

     AVKO Dyslexia (& Spelling)
     Research Foundation

AVKO Individualized Keyboarding
 *  Use the keyboarding program that teaches reading and
     spelling skills as your child masters the computer keyboard.
 *  Visit the AVKO website for information on dyslexia, freebies,
     and our catalog of spelling and reading materials.

B.  Four Types of Writing
     Understand and teach the different types of writing and
methods of developing each type effectively.  Once learned as
separate skills, the different types can be blended as needed.
For example, you might use one or more descriptive paragraphs
within a narrative, or use both descriptive and narrative
paragraphs within an exposition, etc.

1.  Description
     Descriptive writing can be used alone or within other types
of writing to describe persons, places, or things.

2.  Narration
     Narrative writing is used for journals, stories, etc., to
relate a sequence of events.

3.  Exposition
     Expository writing is used for essays, reports, instructions,
etc., to make an analysis or comparison or to explain a process.

4.  Persuasion
     Persuasive writing is used for essays, letters, speeches,
etc., to express an opinion and/or persuade an audience.

C.  Six Building Blocks of Writing
     The basic components, or building blocks, of writing should
be progressively mastered so that they can be easily utilized in
appropriate places.  These components comprise the subject of
grammar and motivate its study.

1.  Words
     Develop a wide vocabulary of:
 *  Specific, precise nouns.
 *  Vivid, active verbs.
 *  Colorful, sensory-rich adjectives and adverbs.
 *  A complete range of prepositions.
 *  Transition words (e.g. then, therefore, because, finally,
     however, thus).

2.  Phrases
     Prepositional, participle, and other phrases can be used as
modifiers and their positions in sentences changed around to give
variety and rhythm.

3.  Clauses
     Dependent, independent, adverbial, and adjectival clauses
also add variety to sentence structure.

4.  Sentences
     Learn to write all types of sentences: simple (with or
without compound subjects or predicates), compound, complex, and
compound-complex sentences.  Changing the lengths and types of
sentences within a piece of writing makes it easier to read and
more interesting and effective.
 *  Find examples of different types of sentences in good
     literature and point these out to your child and/or have him
     copy them.
 *  You may find that learning to diagram sentences will aid the
     understanding of different grammatical structures.

5.  Paragraphs
     Each paragraph should be a coherent and unified group of
sentences that develops a topic sentence (whether it begins and
introduces the paragraph or ends and summarizes it).  The topic
may be developed by facts, examples, incidents, or reasons that
are presented in order of location, chronology, or importance
(ascending or descending).

6.  Compositions
     The finished piece of writing links paragraphs together
logically, using transitional expressions and the repetition of
key words.

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D.  The Three-Step Writing Process
     Certain specific steps are helpful for creating any piece of
writing, whatever its form.  The three main steps of writing are
prewriting, writing, and rewriting.

Step 1. Prewriting
     First you need to decide what you are going to write about,
and how you are going to present it.  Then gather information,
and decide how to organize it.

Topic and Scope
 *  Brainstorm by writing down possible topics.  An activity such
     as a field trip, story, or discussion helps develop ideas.
 *  Start an idea notebook with a list of writing topics and notes.
 *  Choose a topic that interests you and is something you know
     about or are willing to research.
 *  Narrow the scope to make it easier to focus.

Type of Writing
 *  Decide on your audience and purpose for writing to help you
determine what type of writing you will use (see "Four Types of
Writing" above).
 *  Decide on a style and tone (e.g., formal or personal).
 *  Find and analyze writing samples of the type chosen.

Information Gathering and Organization
 *  Do some research and/or conduct an experiment.
 *  Spend some time thinking about the topic.  List ideas and
     note any questions you want to answer in your composition.
 *  Choose information and ideas from notes or research.  You may
     want to further limit the scope of the topic at this point or
     divide it into two or more compositions.
 *  Decide how to organize your ideas.
 *  Outline the chosen information.

Step 2. Writing

Rough Draft
     You should not feel you need to write a perfect paper in one
sitting.  This can prevent you from starting or doing as good a
job as possible.  Get as much as possible down on paper as raw
material from which to choose in writing your final draft.
 *  Write a rough draft by putting the pieces of your outline
     into sentences in one sitting with no interruptions.
 *  Write without concern for spelling and other details. These
     will be corrected as you rewrite.
 *  Mark out mistakes or changes as you think of them and keep
     on writing.

Beginning and Ending
     The beginning and ending of a composition need special
attention to make them effective.
 *  Make an interesting beginning such as an impressive statement,
     quote, anecdote, or dialogue.
 *  End with a strong conclusion, such as a summary or an
     important statement, or add an element of surprise.

Step 3. Rewriting
     The editing process is one of the greatest opportunities for
learning.  You may need to do several rewrites to polish your
composition before it is finished.
 *  It is best to leave the composition alone for a day, then
     reread and begin revising the rough draft.

Writing Conference
 *  Read your composition aloud to your coach (parent) or writing
     partner (fellow student).  This alone will reveal areas that need
     more work.
 *  The coach or partner should ask questions to draw out more
     information or description where needed and make suggestions
     for content and style.  (See "The Building Blocks of Writing" and
     "Types of Writing" above and the "Editing Checklist" below.)

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E.  Editing Checklist
     Use a checklist to evaluate your composition.

1.  Overall Organization
     Rethink your ideas and organization, evaluating the
composition for unity and coherence.
__ Clear statement of point or focus.
__ Each paragraph supports the thesis or focus (cut out parts
      that drift away from the theme).
__ Smooth transitions between paragraphs by repeated words,
      synonyms, or transition words.
__ If needed, change the sequence of sentences and paragraphs
      into a more logical order or one that gives movement
      towards the conclusion.

2.  Words
__ Specific, precise nouns.
__ Vivid, active verbs.
__ Colorful, sensory-rich adjectives and adverbs.
__ Avoid overuse of adjectives.
__ Replace over-used words with fresh ones.
__ Cut out unnecessary or redundant words.

3.  Phrases, Clauses, Sentences, and Paragraphs
__ A variety of phrases and clauses in a variety of positions
      within sentences.
__ A variety of sentence types and lengths.
__ Each paragraph is coherent and unified and develops its topic

4.  Communication
__ Thoughts expressed clearly.
__ Specific details show, rather than tell.
__ Enough details for understanding.

5.  Grammar
__ Check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


   51 Back Issues of The
   Teaching Home Magazine
   Offered for Sale Online.

     Full of information, inspiration, and support that never
goes out of date, these issues are relevant and applicable to
your needs today.
     In each issue an average of 58 home schoolers contribute
practical how-to articles, encouraging letters, and ready-to-use
teaching tips.

F.  17 Online Writing Resources
General Writing
The Elements of Style
The Research Paper
How To Write a Tract
How to Write a Letter to the Editor
How To Write to Your Legislator

G.  Four Subjects Related to Writing
     Several areas of study complement the skill of writing.
These have been dealt with extensively in our 15-part Basic
Skills series and are available in our newsletter archives.s.

1.  Grammar
     Learning grammar is not an end in itself.  It is a means of
improving communication.
     Understanding the correct grammatical form and structure of
words and sentences enables you to communicate clearly and
precisely and to comprehend the communications of others.

2.  Vocabulary
     Well-chosen words give to both speech and writing the
increasingly rare qualities of accuracy, clarity, sensitivity,
impact, and even beauty.

3.  Penmanship
     Penmanship is the art of writing clearly and quickly so that
we can communicate with others (and ourselves).

4.  Spelling
     Incorrect spelling reflects badly on both the writer and his message.

More on Writing
     Newsletters #36 and #37 contain more detailed instructions
and tips for teaching your child to write.

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Sunnyside Up:  Christian Grammar
     Our 9-year-old son Jordan and I were working on a language
arts lesson that used an account from the Bible about John the
Baptist and Jesus.
     The lesson was on capitalization, and I asked Jordan why the
word "he" (referring to Jesus) was capitalized when it wasn't at
the beginning of a sentence.
     Jordan replied, "It's a holy noun!"
     Submitted by Lara B., California.

God Loves You.
     Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ
died in our place, then rose to life again.  If we trust Jesus
Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
     "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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