Quick question, how many book reports have you written as an adult? Zero? Strange, because in fourth-grade, book reports seemed to be the only reason you needed to write. Kids are smarter than most adults give them credit for, and we knew the only reason we were writing a book report was for a grade.
Luckily, by homeschooling, we don’t have the need for accumulating points to give a grade, and there is no divine decree that all children must write a book report. So don’t, it will be okay.
Instead, to get our kids writing, and have them at some point enjoying the process, we need to find ways to make writing meaningful.
To do so, we need to begin by realizing that children are always learning, not just during school time. Now let’s think of some ideas to make writing meaningful.
Write to Someone Special
The first and most obvious way to create meaning with our writing is to write to someone.
- Grandparent or another family member
- Pen Pal
- Military personnel stationed away from home
- Children in the hospital
- Residents of a nursing home
Writing becomes so much more meaningful to a child if they know someone will read their words with love and gratitude, not merely with a red pen and rubric.
Writing Awards and Contests
Did you know there are writing contests and awards specifically for children? It’s true! The goal of writing an award-winning piece is certainly more appealing than an A in 6th grade English.
From your first grader to your senior, there is a contest for everyone. Here are a few:
- American Foreign Service High School Essay Contest
- The Ocean Awareness Contest
- Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge
- Scholastic Art and Writing Award
These are just a few of what’s available. A quick Google search will find the contest perfect for your child’s interests.
The great thing about contests is there are submission guidelines to follow, which provides structure and a deadline other than “just because I said so.”
Get Your Work Published
Along with contests, getting work published is a meaningful and motivating goal. What child wouldn’t love to see their writing in a real magazine? How exciting to have a stranger think your words were brilliant enough to be published?
From young children to teens, there is a publication that accepts children’s submissions.
There are many benefits for a child or teen to work towards publication. They see there is a real-world purpose for writing. They learn to follow submission requirements and deadlines. Every time they’re published, it increases their uniqueness in college applications.
Get Creative and Publish Yourself
We live in a time when getting someone else to publish your work isn’t necessary. Self-publishing is a massive industry with few barriers to entry.
So what are some self-publishing options for your children?
Does your child have a topic they will not stop talking about? Create a blog and let them put all that passion and knowledge into the world. If blogging isn’t their thing, you can also publish their writing as an ebook or print on demand book that people will actually buy!
You can also look for local opportunities to write and publish. Does your local homeschool group need a newsletter for kids? Do you belong to a co-op or group that needs help with a yearbook?
It’s easy to find ways to work on writing skills while also diving into a topic you love or helping your community. It just takes some creative thinking.
Writing Beyond the Assignment
There aren’t many brilliant authors that became writers because of that fantastic essay assignment in 10th grade. Such tasks are rarely met with inspiration but usually dread.
So why would we continue this in our homeschools just because? Perhaps because we haven’t considered options that would inspire our young writers more.
Let’s inspire our children to write by making it meaningful and giving it a purpose beyond a grade. Book reports not required.