How to Teach Writing to Your Tweens and Not Lose Your Mind

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Homeschool writing with tweens has always been a bit of a challenge in my house. It can be a struggle to find the right balance of creative freedom and formal skills.

The tween years are a great time to incorporate more formal writing instruction so tweens can begin adding various skills to their writing toolbox. But it is also still a great age for creativity and fun and I don’t want to lose that in a formal writing curriculum.

This year we found a curriculum that has been the perfect balance of writing freedom and skill building for my tween son.

Teaching Homeschool Writing to Tweens

{This post contains affiliate links. This post is sponsored by WriteShop because I reached out to them about sharing my experience after a great year. Read my full disclosure.}

Homeschool Writing with Tweens

I know it’s important for my kids to find their own writing voice so I want a writing program for tweens that allows for plenty of writing freedom. But the program can’t be all fun and games. I also know that my kids need to begin developing a toolbox of writing skills to draw from as they enter high school and college.

After checking out several different options, I decided that WriteShop Junior. would be the best fit for my tween this year. He is in 6th grade so we decided to use WriteShop Book E. 

It’s true that he could have started in Book F, but when I am starting a new curriculum, I have found that dropping back a level has never been a bad thing. I knew it would give us time to build a foundation in the unique writing instruction used by WriteShop.

You can view the entire scope and sequence on the WriteShop website when you make a decision about placement. My 6th grader son would have been appropriately placed in book E or F, but I noticed that book E included two activities that introduced the five paragraph essay so I didn’t want to miss those first lessons.

WriteShop Junior stood out to me as the best choice for writing with tweens this year because the teacher’s guide has clear directions for the teacher (me!), the program includes a variety of ways to support your student, includes fun activities, and provides a wide variety of writing experiences.

Homeschool Writing With Teens using WriteShop Junior Guides

Clear Directions for the Teacher

After a few years with a curriculum that required a lot of work on my part, I was ready for an easy-to-follow guide. I was tired of piecing things together with outside materials that would teach specific writing skills. I wanted a teacher’s guide that would hold my hand and help me hold my child’s hand.

As soon as I began to flip through the WriteShop Junior teacher’s guide, I knew I found the right fit for writing with tweens. The WriteShop Junior teacher’s guide included plenty of guidance for me as a writing instructor. In fact, there was probably more guidance than I required after years of teaching writing, but I was grateful for the reminders and support.

You know that I have no problem tweaking a curriculum to make it work for my child, but the more guidance a teacher’s guide can give me, the better. It’s easier to modify a program when plenty of guidance is provided than to create plans when guidance is lacking.

The teacher’s guide includes everything you need to get started with WriteShop Junior. You’ll find background information to introduce you to WriteShop, suggested schedules for teaching, and supply lists

Lesson Planning

Planning out the year was very simple. There are 10 lessons and we decided to follow the three-week plan for each lesson. In our house, that meant our goal would be to accomplish one lesson each month and I would have a week off for planning. It also meant I had to skip a lesson or save one for some summertime fun!

Teaching Homeschool Writing to Teens with the three week plan from WriteShop

The teacher’s guide for each individual writing activity includes advanced prep ideas, parent tips, scripted conversations as examples, and very clear directions.

The writing/coaching tips were great reminders and completely in-line with my own personal philosophies about teaching writing. Tips include reminders to do the writing for your child at times if they were struggling, ways to adjust activities for an advanced learner, and reminders to praise a final copy even if you still notice mistakes.

The WriteShop Junior teacher’s guide acts as a partner to help parents become supportive writing coaches for their kids. 

Student Support

As tweens learn to write well, they require plenty of support along the way. Writing with tweens should include time to play with words, develop writing skills, read a variety of writing samples, and have the freedom to try new types of writing.

WriteShop Junior includes everything you need to introduce a variety of writing genres to your child and support them as they experiment with their own voice in that genre. Each writing lesson includes the following steps and activities as part of the writing process:

Pre-writing – a hands-on game to introduce concepts for writing
Model and Teach Time – a time for you to model concepts
Skill Builder – a time to work on specific writing skills
Journal Writing – a time to practice independent writing (free writing activities)
Brainstorming – generating and organizing ideas for writing
Writing Project – create a first draft (dictated or handwritten)
Editing and Revising – includes self-editing and parent editing
Publishing – lots of different publishing ideas
Evaluating – NO NEED FOR GRADES at this age; just a record of growth in writing

The amount of writer support, the writing experiences provided, and skill-builders built into the WriteShop Junior program hooked me right away.

Using WriteShop Junior skill builders to create concrete poetry.

Of all the steps, the one I have most appreciated is the skill builder step. There are so many writing skills that don’t come naturally for kids so we have to talk about them. We have to teach them skills such as how to connect their conclusions to the introductions, how to choose strong verbs and descriptive language, how to narrow their focus, and how to use synonyms. 

Writing skills like these don’t just “happen” for most kids when it comes to writing. The WriteShop Junior program helps guide learners toward developing these skills with the activities included in each lesson.

In addition to all of the writing support, each lesson in WriteShop Junior includes grammar instruction. The teacher’s guide includes instructions to create fold-n-go grammar packets, though we found that stapling the worksheets together worked just fine in our home.

Writing with Tweens can be Fun

We have always valued playing with words as part of our language arts program, and I didn’t want it to stop in the tween years. Thankfully, WriteShop Junior provides wordplay games as part of the writing instruction in each section. My son and I had fun with the games, even the simple ones. 

I mean, who doesn’t love a game to kick off a new writing project?

In addition to games at the beginning of each unit, there were fun activities included in the writing lessons. 

One of the skill builders encouraged us to take a trip outside to paint a scenic view. We drew the entire scene, but then practiced narrowing down our topic by focusing on one part of the scene for our poem. It was a fun and multi-sensory experience that made poetry writing even more effective.

Writing our Concrete poems when homeschool writing with teens

Many of the publishing projects were fun as well! The five-paragraph book report is published as a “fake book” using a cereal box. Not only is it fun to create, but it is fun to display around the house as a piece of published writing.

A Variety of Writing Experiences

Tweens need experience with a variety of writing genres and types of writing. Their writing in high school and college will benefit from exposure to writing from all sorts of genres.

WriteShop Junior has all of this covered for you and more. The WriteShop Junior program include experiences in poetry writing, non-fiction writing, and a variety of fiction writing genres.

WriteShop Jr. Book E includes:

Writing a Fable
Writing with Humor
Writing an Adventure
Writing Science Fiction
Writing a Mystery
Writing Concrete Poetry
Writing a Personal Narrative
Writing a Descriptive Narrative
Writing a Book Report
Writing a Nonfiction Report

Each WriteShop Junior guide includes 10 lessons with a mix of fiction and non-fiction writing opportunities. You can find the exact details by looking at the scope and sequence page.

Writing with Tweens: Partner with Your Child

It has always been important to partner with my child when it comes to their education. Teaching writing requires time and commitment because there is no way to teach writing well without being involved.

Teaching Tweens to Write requires partnership

I don’t believe there is an effective writing program that can be done completely independently by the child.

But I also want a program that saves as much of my precious time as possible so I can spend it focusing on my child’s growth and not creating the plans and finding the resources I need.

I also want teacher support as well. I need tips, reminders, and suggestions so that I can be the most effective writing coach possible.

This year WriteShop Junior was the perfect partner for me so I could best partner with my tween and support his writing growth.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out this writing program, I encourage you to check it out for your tween:

Hear More about Our Experience with WriteShop Junior:

We had a great year with WriteShop Junior and I look forward to more successful writing experiences next year!

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