Is My Child Ready for Formal Writing?
Will your homeschoolers ever be able to write a paragraph that does not ramble? Will they ever be able to write with structure and style? When do you begin to teach formal writing? When are your homeschool students ready to learn how to logically organize their abstract thoughts to write paragraphs? When are they ready to learn how to write essays and skillfully communicate?
In “What is Classical Education,” Susan Wise Bauer states that children are usually ready to begin logical thinking at 5th grade (which is around 10 years old). As they begin to deal with abstract thoughts, most students need another year or two before they are mature enough to learn how to organize abstract thoughts effectively in their writing through brainstorming and learning how to organize with a standard outline. Students are at an advantage if they wait until they are developmentally ready to start writing paragraphs.
When children reach that level of maturity, they should begin to learn how to write using the writing process and structure to develop a solid writing foundation. Many students are overwhelmed by formal writing because they do not know how to use writing tools and so they do not have the necessary skills. When students learn how to write using the writing process and structure, they are equipped to skillfully develop more challenging writing topics into well written college level essays.
Using the step-by-step concrete method laid out in The Write Foundation, students learn how to logically think through the writing process and effectively use structure and organization to produce well written essays.
The entry level is designed for 8 years old eager writers up to 12 year old reluctant writers. At this level, students begin by focusing on developing better sentence structure. Creating Sentences addresses common writing errors while students learn how to write better sentences. Using fun activities and games while learning to compose and develop sentence writing by putting sentence pieces together like a puzzle, students will not be asking, “But what do I write about?”
Sentence to Paragraph
A few are ready by age 10, more at age 11-12, many at age 13, but some need to begin at age 14 or even 15, so they are mature enough to begin learning how to organize abstract thoughts in writing at the Sentence to Paragraph level. At this level, students begin by focusing on developing better sentence structure. They quickly move to writing basic one and two-paragraph compositions using a variety of brainstorm techniques and standard outlines, while using the writing process to organize their writing.
A few are ready by age 12, more at age 13 and many at age 14, but struggling students may need to be 15 or even 16. If a student is 14 or older, they may be able to begin with Paragraph Writing, but this depends on their maturity and writing experience. This level helps students improve their writing skills, while challenging them to quickly grasp more pieces of the writing puzzle, and advancing to a 5-paragraph college-level essay.
A few 16 and 17 year old students who are very mature in their ability to grasp abstract concepts and have experience writing using the writing process and structure, could begin at Essay Writing. Essay Writing assumes students automatically brainstorm, write a standard outline and edit their rough draft while following basic formal writing rules such as no 1st or 2nd person, no incomplete sentences and no run-on sentences. Older students with only some writing experience or struggle with writing should begin with Paragraph Writing.
Some parents push their children to start formal writing too early. Other parents want to start their children at too advanced of a level thinking “they can write a paragraph so it shouldn’t take that much more to write a college level essay.” These parents do not understand the differences in more casual writing and the demands of formal writing. The result is frustration for everyone.
Be patient with children who are late bloomers in academic development. Children develop at different rates in different areas. Some children develop faster academically than others, but bear in mind that the rate of brain development is not an indication of the level of intelligence. It is normal for a child to advance quickly in one or two areas, while seeming to lag behind in other areas.
Education is a process of training the mind. As the brain develops, students progress from learning what to think, to learning how to think. If they are not ready to move from learning facts (concrete) to learning how to think (abstract), then structured formal writing will be too hard for them. Writing requires students to organize abstract thoughts logically and then communicate those thoughts effectively. When students are ready to use logical thinking skills to organize abstract ideas, then they are ready to benefit from The Write Foundation.
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