Teaching Composition


This section deals specifically with composition skills - writing letters, reports, essays, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Grammar and mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech) is covered in Teaching Grammar. Handwriting is covered in Teaching Handwriting. Although these subjects overlap, it works better in a homeschool situation to spend a day or two each week focusing on one of these subjects at a time. (See Sample Curriculum Plan for a recommended schedule.)

Many traditional English curriculums spend too much time on grammar (probably because it's much easier to correct thirty fill-in-the blank, multiple-choice worksheets than it is to correct thirty handwritten compositions) resulting in students who know everything about diagramming sentences, but develop very few skills in composition. As a homeschool parent; however, you can focus two or three days per week on composition lessons, using these compositions to also reinforce grammar skills, and the other days working on specific grammar instruction. The result will be that your child will not only learn proper grammar, but he will also develop excellent composition skills.


Goals for Composition Instruction:
  • Acquire the writing skills to be able to communicate effectively in school, business, and personal applications.

  • Learn to give and take constructive criticism.

  • Learn how authors write and get published.

  • Seek God as to whether or not He has given the student a calling to write.

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General Guidelines for Composition Lessons:

  1. Begin with warmups

  2. Have a purpose for the writing assignment. Focus on only one or two new techniques per assignment (topic sentences, vivid verbs, idea starters, descriptive paragraph…)

  3. Have an audience for the writing assignment: portfolio, friend, letter to editor, publication.

  4. Let them write what they know about or what interests them.

  5. Spend more time in writing instruction than in grammar workbooks. You can teach grammar using their writing assignments, using simple worksheets as needed, and by teaching a complete grammar course once in 4th-6th, once in 7th or 8th, and once again in high school.

  6. Have them write frequently.

  7. Use a variety of teaching resources to keep interest going. Provide them with different types and color of paper, make booklets, use ideas from Writing Project Ideas.

  8. The ChecklistFor more information on teaching composition, see my Composition Mini Workshop (pdf document).

Keep track of your composition instruction with The Checklist.

Go to Sample Curriculum Plan to see a sample schedule.

Go to Composition Curriculum Recommendations

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