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"A good education for every child does not mean the same education for every child.  "

Please use what works for you and your child and ignore the rest.  Every child is different.  If this information does not seem to be a good fit for your particular child, then keep looking and experimenting until you find what works.


This Web Page by Pauline Harding for Art Nurk,
Contents may be copied for personal use if credit is given.  Please ask for permission before any other use.  Do not copy this information onto your own web site without permission..

 Getting Your Homeschool Ready for Writing

Getting Started With Writing

Let children have access to writing tools as soon as they show an interest!  Use washable markers (*most* of the time they wash out), pencils (erasable), or whatever you are most comfortable with.  If you like, ask your child to sit at the table when using them, or whatever you need to do to be comfortable with the safety and mess level.  However, be sure to have writing materials and paper readily available – ideally, your child should be able to access these whenever the urge to write strikes.

Do not expect your kid’s writing and reading to be at the same level.  Your child may “write” nonsense letters, even if they know the real alphabet.  Similarly, they may be able to read quite well but really struggle with writing.  The two can complement each other, but don’t expect them to progress at the same rate. 

Encourage all kinds of writing – at the beginning this may mean one or two squiggly lines per page.  You’ll go through a lot of paper so consider using the backs of scrap pages or something else you won’t feel the need to ration.

At the beginning, ignore backwards letters such as “b”, “d”, “s”, etc.  You can always introduce proper letter formation later.  When you feel your child is ready, you can provide a poster or card with the letters written properly, to use for reference.  (This is NOT cheating – it’s learning!)

Give your child your junk mail and let them fill out business reply cards and other forms, if they like that sort of thing.  Some moms give their child assorted junk mail to write on when mom is paying bills – they have “writing time” together!

Creating a Writing Center

Children need to be able to practice writing often.  One way to encourage this is to set up a “writing center”.  This could just mean making sure that paper and writing materials are stored where your child can easily access them.  Another idea is to have a basket or plastic caddy that contains scissors, glue or glue stick, pencils, markers, stapler, etc., and a nearby stock of paper (lined, unlined, and colored).  The caddy can be brought to the table, making all needed materials handy, and then stowed away when it is finished with. 

Buy school supplies at the going-back-to-school sales!  Stock up on pencils, glue, scissors, paper, markers, etc. -- you will save a lot of money this way.  We have a small shelf where we keep new supplies, to be used for ourselves or as gifts.

Depending on your child’s interest, your writing center could double as a craft area.  Think too about creating space to display finished projects.

As a homeschooling family, you will need to invest in a good pencil sharpener.  I thought a battery-operated one would be great – it could be right there in the writing caddy, going with us wherever we wanted to write – plus, it was cheaper than the plug-in ones.  Unfortunately, I found that the battery operated ones were useless.  Go for a plug-in one.  They cost more at first, but work better and last longer.  Ours is still going strong after almost 10 years!

Stocking up on Paper

Lined paper is great for practicing correct letter formation.  Blank paper (like for computer printers) is good for combining drawing and writing.  Colored blank paper, for cards and crafts, is fairly cheap at office supply stores.  Card stock is great for making book covers – one package containing a variety of colors will last a long time.  (Beware the hot pink – it will stain anything if it gets wet.)

If your child really enjoys making books, but wants bigger paper, you can get double-sized (11” x 17”) blank paper and cardstock.  This is great for making larger blank books.  Consider splitting a pack with a friend or two, as only the most prolific child will use a whole package!

Does your child have trouble fitting a word on the page because he writes so large?  Teacher supply stores sell “sentence strips” – long strips of card stock with lines for printing larger letters. 

Rainbow Resource sells “Notesketch” books – they have lines on half of the page, and a blank area for drawing.  They are not ruled for beginners, though.  Sometimes you can find a pad of this kind of paper, ruled for beginners, at K-Mart.

Making Greeting Cards

Card making is great for practicing writing and drawing.  Making cards for friends and relatives can be a great addition to your homeschooling curriculum.  (Not to mention it is much cheaper than buying them!)  Office supply stores sell “invitation envelopes”, which are the right size for a piece of 81/2 x 11” paper folded in quarters – this is great for card making.  Another idea is to get a package of 250 sheets of card stock cut in half at your local printers.  (They may charge you $1 or so for this.)  Then just fold a piece of the paper in half and voila!  You end up with 500 blank cards that fit perfectly into the invitation envelopes.  In some stores (like my grocery store) the greeting card company representative collects unsold cards the day after a major holiday (like Mother’s Day), but throws away the envelopes.  If you happen upon this, ask if you can have the envelopes – we got over 500 free envelopes this way, in many colors and sizes.

Writing Kit Birthday Present

A writing kit makes a good birthday present.  We often buy a plastic box the right size for a standard sheet of paper.  We then fill it with markers, scissors, and glue.  (Sometimes we stock up on these at back-to-school sales when they are much cheaper.)  Then we choose some paper, blank cards, and envelopes from our collection, and tie them each with pretty ribbon.  You could also include a blank book or two, a small ball of yarn (wind up any scraps you have), some pages from a wallpaper sample book (at the beginning of the month, ask if your local paint/wallpaper store has any discontinued books you can have), some buttons (cut off of a torn shirt that’s going into the rag bag), etc.  Leave lots of space in the box for the child’s creations!

Letter Guides

Teacher supply stores sell a variety of letter guides – pages with the alphabet printed on them to use as a reminder when writing.  They also sell large letter-guide posters.  Using a letter guide is NOT cheating!  Put a letter guide page in your writing caddy, or hang one by your table.  (Just make sure your child doesn’t have to turn their head to see it – this could result in confusion and letter reversal.)

Print & Play

Integrate print into your child’s play.  The cars may need a stop sign, the restaurant needs a menu, the dolls need a bedtime story.  You can integrate writing too – the waitress can write an order, the mom can write in a checkbook.