The Homeschool Minute ~ Hal & Melanie Young

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Does Teaching Writing Overwhelm You?

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Raising Real Men    
My college and early career experience were all about engineering–calculus, physics, more calculus, and lots of programming. English class was a distraction to the stuff I really wanted to do. Little did I expect what I discovered-that being able to write clearly, correctly, and even enjoyably, would open all kinds of doors for me.


So how can you engage your technical-scientific child in learning to write?

  1. Get concrete, specific, and practical. When a teacher said “Just write whatever you feel like,” I didn’t feel free–I was frustrated! Try giving assignments with obvious purpose, like, “Write a descriptive paragraph which would allow me to build this bookcase without a drawing,” or “Write a narrative paragraph using landmarks to describe how to get from the interstate to Grandma’s house.”
  2. Give him great examples to read. The best preparation I had for becoming a good writer–after the basics of spelling and grammar–was reading good writing. I pushed back against literature, but found inspiration in a political journal a history teacher introduced to me. Every field has excellent writers who help make complex ideas understandable. Find them and introduce your young writer to them!
  3. Teach him the secret of good editing. Published authors and journalists will tell you the difference between an average writer and a real professional is the ability to go back and re-write anything which doesn’t quite work. Remember the story which is such a pleasure to read the first time through didn’t get written in one swoop! William Zinnser’s book On Writing Well helped me understand the process. Encourage your young writer to finish a draft then leave it for a day or two, maybe read it out loud and see how it flows, and then go polish it up!
  4. Give him the tip that good writing will set him apart from the crowd. Many of my technical colleagues were like me in college–focused on science and math and brushing off writing as a necessary evil. Being able to communicate well on paper, though, gave me numerous opportunities that others overlooked. Don’t sell it short, young scientist!

Yours in the Battle,

Hal Young


Hal and Melanie Young are the parents of eight, all homeschooled. Their new book, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, was released Valentine’s Day. Find out more at!

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