This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Getting Teens Interested in Writing. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
A lot of teens have either had not much experience writing, or they have had negative or overwhelming experiences with writing. So by the time they get to high school, they are just like, Gee, writing.
How about if we reconstruct writing for our homeschool high schoolers, especially for those who have had those negative experiences or are inexperienced in writing? Let’s reconstruct things for them, so they can learn to write and communicate through writing in a way they actually feel successful in! They just might even enjoy and have fun with it!
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Wouldn’t that be nice if your teen graduates from homeschool high school and feels confident in their high school writing skills?
How To Get Your Teens Interested In Writing
First, know that there’s not just one right way to homeschool high school, and there’s not one right way to get writing done. But if we want to reconstruct high school writing and get teens interested, here are some ideas that could help.
BTW- for more information on goals and grading for writing in homeschool high school, check out this episode.
Start With A Growth Mindset
A lot of times, those teens who come in with the self-doubt or negative writing experience say “writing’s dumb” or “I’m dumb” or “I can’t write.” And because of that, they have a block already about writing. They don’t believe their writing can be successful.
A growth mindset gives them more confidence. So, instead of saying “I’m bad at writing” or “I hate writing,” they learn to say “I’m not a great writer yet, but I’m learning to be.” Or
“I’m not there yet, but I’m learning that word, and I’m going to get there.”
Change the perspective. Adjust the shutdown from “I can’t do this” or “I’m bad at this” to “I’m not there yet, but I’m going to get there.” That change gives teens confidence. It rewires their brain away from shutdown to possibility. Just changing a few words can help them.
“You’re not there yet, but you’re going to get there.” Say it for them. Work it out with them. Then help them practice that in their writing. It will really help.
Make Assignments Short and Simple
Another way to get teens interested in high school writing is by making assignments short and simply. Rather than give an inexperienced writer a 10-page research paper and tell them to go for it, and make them follow APA-style down to the letter, pull things back and make assignments short and simple.
Give them materials to work with that are little itsy bitsy bites like in psychology. We call it successive approximations. You take baby steps. One step, and then the next step, and then the next step. And then the next step. One step builds on another. And before you know it, they are capable of doing so much more, and they believe they can too.
So make assignments short and simple. And as often as possible, make them interesting or even fun. They can build on that, and they will go so much more quickly and successfully into the more detailed stuff.
Use Dictation Abilities
Some teens with special needs or who have so much self-doubt in themselves may need to make those early writing steps even easier, such as dictation abilities.
- Have them dictate to you
- Use tools like Dragon Dictation
- Use voice-to-text such as Google Dictation app
Once their words are in writing, they can do a little formatting and start to feel empowered.
Another way to get teens interested in writing is by writing together. For example, you can create a progressive story together.
A progressive story begins with one person starting with a sentence. Then the next person adds on to that sentence, adding to the story. And on and on it goes. One sentence for one person. The sentences build upon each other, creating a story.
- For example, the first person starts it off with the first sentence.
- “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sally, and she lived in the woods.”
- Then you stop after that sentence, and the next person adds to it.
- “Sally went for a picnic one day and all of a sudden a big bear came.”
- And then the next person adds to it.
- “And the bear wanted her picnic and Sally was terrified.”
- Next the last person says the last sentence.
- “So Sally tickled the bear, and he ran away. “
- Then that’s the end of that story.
Progressive stories like that are silly and nonsensical, but what it gets teens doing is thinking in their creative part of their brain. (And it’s actually the problem-solving part of the brain too!)
These are a few ways to get your teens interested in writing in their homeschool high school years. Start small, and then once they have a little confidence with that, you can give them something a tad bit tougher and start building on that. As you do this, watch their high school writing skills bloom along with their confidence.
For more inspiration on writing:
- Non-fiction Writing for Homeschool High Schoolers, Marvelous interview with biographers Janet and Geoff Benge
- 7Sisters’s helpful post: Authoritative Guide to Homeschool High School Writing Requirements
Thanks to Richie Soares for help with the post and Seth Tillman for editing the podcast.
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