Writing for a Purpose

One of the things that has encouraged our children’s writing is for them to have a purpose for their writing, an audience to appreciate their effort. There are daily purposes for writing – you and I write each and every day and we need to encourage our children to participate in these daily exercises, without constructing school lessons for writing. And yet we do want our children to write about the things that they learn. How can we create writing opportunities, in our lifestyle, for more formal genres of writing?

Here is a list of family-based opportunities we have found to display our children’s writing over the years.

Family Newsletter
A family newsletter doesn’t need to wait till Christmas time. Our children love the idea of creating newsletters. I suspect they created many more than actually ended up in the mail box but it was all learning. Not only did they have a purpose for writing, they were learning about publishing as well. As the children got older the newsletters developed into Newspapers – which included all the different aspects of a newspaper.

Publish a Book
My daughter compiled a book of the local homeschoolers stories. Shesold it back to the homeschool families pretty much at cost and they all bought copies for grandparents and posterity! Actually this had a hidden benefit as one of the business women in town heard what she was doing and sponsored her for $50.00 which opened up a lot of business discussions.

Book writing competition
Our library holds a Make your own Book competition every year. It is directed towards the school kids but thanks to the homeschoolers consistent involvement (and success!!) the have changed the categories to officially include family written books and multi-ages!! This competition, even though our kids do well, is more about making abook and having a wide audience reading it.

Share with Friends
There have been times that our kids have initiated a writers circle via email with their friends. They have either shared their stories or written combined stories, with the story line developing with each email back and forth!

Homeschool Co-op
We work on public speaking at our co-op, starting with a "Show and Tell", growing into giving oral reports and then speeches. But the same thing would work for writing - bring a story to share!

My older children are allowed a blog on Homeschoolblogger. This is not only an opportunity for daily writings but also a place they can publish their reports, articles etc that they write during their study.

Family Sharing
My son writes very long stories so we have started to read these around the dinner table. It has struck me that we don't share their writing with each other as much as we could/should. I hadn't thought about it before - the kids are in the same room when they write but that doesn't mean they hear each other's stories. When they were younger we would all listen to each other’s narrations – now that their work is more written than oral, we need to transfer the same family involvement.

Letting the children scrapbook significant events in their lives gives a perfect opportunity to write. Journaling has to be a prerequisite to being allowed near my scrapbooking supplies!

Family Journal
I have also known a family who, after dinner, sat down and wrote in their family diary. They weren't a homeschool family but it encouraged their son's writing tremendously.

Hope there are a few thoughts here that can be applied to your family life.

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