Matthew Stephens
By: Matthew Stephens
January 9, 2018

Improving the Homeschool Writing Experience

Parent:  “What do I do? My son and I get into a fight every time he submits something for his 9th grade writing class.”

Me:  “Why?”

Parent: “Well, he makes so many capitalization and punctuation errors. And that’s the first thing I see, so when he shows me his paper, I immediately see all the errors and start telling him that he’s too old to be making such elementary errors!”

Teaching writing in a homeschool setting can be frustrating especially for those of us who write well and do not have to be bothered by checking for such things as capitalization and punctuation errors. Those writing rules come naturally for us.

But, it doesn’t always come easy for our students. What seems to be such an “easy to remember” task isn’t always the same for our students.

What can you do to make your student’s writing experience a better one?

By no means is this an inclusive list when it comes to ways to improve your student’s homeschool writing experience, but they are a good place to start!

Create Checkpoints

Walking your students through the writing process for their compositions allows for checkpoints along the way. For example, if students struggle with planning, model how to plan before they plan. Then, allow them to plan. If students struggle with capitalization and punctuation, create one final step purely for editing for capitalization and punctuation.  And, each one can be completed on a separate day as one activity for an assigned class time!

The amount of time devoted to writing as a whole is broken into “doable” sessions. The less overwhelming writing is the more encouraged your child becomes.


Spend an equal (or more) amount of time talking about positive elements you see in your student’s writing. Throughout the writing process, be sure to focus on what is good and save the “fix this” comments for last. If you’re breaking the writing process down over several days (which I highly recommend) and modeling each step of the writing process, your student is likely to have more successes than failures or areas in need of improvement. This, in and of itself, is encouraging!

Know Your Child’s Personality

This has to be one of the most important things I learned when teaching writing in public schools. Not every child is the same; therefore, I cannot expect to teach or communicate with every child in the same way.

I quickly realized that usually “I” was the problem with my students lack of output in their writing.

When I first started teaching writing in public education, I was a bit of a hard-nosed teacher with a heavy hand and a sarcastic tone. I quickly realized that usually “I” was the problem with my students lack of output in their writing. The timid students were “afraid” to write anything, and the strong willed students refused to write.

Once I learned about the students themselves and the way they interact best with others and teachers, I changed my approach with each student. The result? The amount of writing output increased and their “willingness” to write increased as well.

So, if your child doesn’t do well with “matter-of-fact” confrontation, try a different approach to correction. If your child needs lots of encouragement, do it! If your child doesn’t do well without time limits, establish time limits to complete portions of writing activities.

All  of these are important, but it is important that we remember this fact:

What works for one child doesn’t always work for another.

Encouragement can come in different forms. Don’t feel like you have to stick to verbal affirmation as the only way to encourage your child. Be aware. Be conscious. And look for unique ways to encourage your homeschool writer.