First Published Article! “My Kid Hates Writing – Help!”

My first written article got published in the CHAP (Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania) in their last issue! So many of my friends and family wanted to read it, so I’m posted it here, as well! I hope it encourages you in all of your writing and teaching endeavors. :-)

My Kid Hates to Write – HELP!

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Do you have those children who just really don’t like to write? Where it feels like you’re pulling their teeth every time you try to make them sit down and get something on paper? Want to know how to fuel a love for reading and writing in your children? Well, homeschooling led to me becoming an author!
My name is Hope Auer. I’ve loved writing and reading from an early age, and I’d have to attribute that love to my parents. As long as I can remember, parents read books to me and told me stories. This started me telling myself stories, inventing worlds and characters, and falling in love with writing to eventually writing my own books! “A Cry From Egypt” and “A Stand At Sinai,” books one and two of “The Promised Land Series,” started off as a homeschool project that my dad assigned me when we were studying Ancient Egypt!
Here are a few things that my parents and others did to help give me a passion for creativity and learning, particularly in the areas of reading and writing.
Read books aloud! My parents have read entire book series to me and my little brothers. They would read to us while we did chores, while we got ready for bed, or would just set aside a special time for us to sit and play quietly and listen. Reading aloud builds children’s vocabularies and makes them many, many times more interested in reading for themselves and in writing their own stories.
Introduce writing at an early age. Sure, in 3rd grade they won’t be writing essays. But they can be writing short book reviews! Did you just read a book for school? Have them write out a paragraph or two about the book. Did you just take them on a field trip somewhere? Maybe the farmer’s market, or a different historical site, or a museum? Tell them in advance to find something to write about. Have them look for a person to talk to, or a favorite exhibit, or to think about something new that they learned. It doesn’t have to be big or long. They just need to have something that they want to write about that makes them excited. Even if it’s just a few sentences, at least it’s something to show what they learned and to get them involved in writing. As they get older, the sentences will turn into paragraphs, and then into pages! It’s fine to let them dictate if handwriting is a barrier. The point is to create!
Get them into descriptive writing. Have them look at pictures and get used to describing them in detail. Have them try describing things from left to right, top to bottom, from the center outward, and then pick just one thing to talk about from each picture. Have them look up words in the thesaurus to find the best word (or words) for each thing they are describing. This way you can study art and photography, too! Have them find pictures that they like to give them extra motivation and save you time.
Make creative writing a must in your homeschooling. My dad asked me to write a short historical fiction story placed in Ancient Egypt. He didn’t know at the time that I’d be writing a series of books today! But creative writing provides an outlet for growing imaginations, for learning about grammar and spelling in a fun way, and for having something to share with friends and family. Maybe even one day, they’ll write books that make an impact on the culture and bring glory to God. You can use this to supplement what your children are studying in history by writing short historical fiction stories, or just to give them a break from the essays, tests, reports and let their imagination run wild.
Anything you study or anything you do in your day-to-day life can be used for ideas in creative writing. I often have parents ask me for suggestions for writing prompts to challenge their children’s creativity. There are ideas for creative writing all around you! Here’s some examples of creative writing prompts that I’ve used:

  • A story about a family vacation
  • A story about a lost animal
  • A story about your favorite character in history
  • A story about knights and dragons
  • A story about a trip to visit a different country
  • A story about you and your best friend
  • A story about animals out in nature
  • A story about people lost out in the woods
  • A tale of princes and princesses
  • A story involving outside classes (like music, dance, sports, etc.)
  • A story about orphans in a medieval culture…
  • The list is endless!

I hope these writing tips are a blessing and an encouragement to your homeschooling! If you have aspiring writers or would like more writing tips, please check out my website (www.acryfromegypt.com). I love doing what I can to inspire young writers or provide information for parents as they seek to school their children. Happy Writing!

Descriptive Writing Exercise!

Is school work and/or writing getting a little hard as the weather gets warmer and Summer seems to be rapidly approaching? Try this fun descriptive writing exercise to take a break from the routine but still teach a better way to write! Look at the picture below:

There are several different methods we can use to describe this picture. We can describe the picture from left to right, top to bottom, or from the center outward. Let me show you three examples:

Left To Right:

“In a blur of rainbow colors, the train speed away down the track, not even pausing for a break on the way to its destination. The tattered advertisements on the walls were covered up for a brief moment as the train raced along. The roar of noise echoed through the tunnel and bounced off of the white tile floor and concrete walls. The man walking closest to the track barely seemed to notice the noise as he headed towards his next stop to wait, determination in his stride. Others walked slowly besides him, underneath the white florescent lights, trying to stay out of the way. A few paced the floor, the tap of their shoes only heard once the train left the station. It was the monotonous day’s commute. Trains racing too and fro, people standing with their backs up against the wall, waiting. Others rushing about in a desperation to make their connecting trains. No one was really friendly. It was just a sea of faces doing what they did every single day of their lives.”

Top To Bottom:

“Bright white lights shone on the white concrete ceiling and walls, making the underground train station appear unnaturally bright and almost hostile. Some of the commuters squinted a little as they watched the train race past. People hugged their coats to themselves as they made their way to their appropriate stops. The tunnel was a less than a warm and friendly atmosphere, but one that everyone was used to. The hustle and bustle of tons of moving feet on the dirty tile floor made a constant shuffling noise as everyone tried to stay out of each other’s way.”

Center And Out:

“A man with a heavy coat and a backpack slung over one shoulder walked quickly through the station. The train rushed past him in a whirl of noise and color, but he scarcely noticed as he looked down the long, bleak tunnel full of harsh light. No one really noticed anyone as they made their way along. He was vaguely aware of the people on his left that were standing and waiting, or pacing back and forth, or slowly following him to the next train stop. That’s all the mattered. Getting wherever you had to go quickly and getting out of the bleak and lonely tunnel and back to work.”

Do you see how every time I tried a new descriptive style the subject of the paragraph changed? The first paragraph (left to right) had the subject as the train because that’s what was seen/described first. The second paragraph (top to bottom) had the subject as the whole atmosphere of the train station with the focus being derived from the harsh light. The third paragraph (center and outward) had the subject being the man with the backpack and showed things from his perspective.

Go over these different ways of describing pictures with your children and show them the difference. Make sure they use as many big and expressive words as they can! Use a thesaurus if it would help!

Happy writing! :-)

What If My Child Isn’t A Writer?

Many people want to know how to make their children love reading and writing. But unfortunately, it’s very hard to find a motivating factor to get your children, young or old, to enjoy reading and writing if they just don’t seem to be bent that way. But writing is essential to all of life, so eventually they will have to learn! So how can we help jumpstart this process while making it fun and easy?

First of all, in order to be a writer, you need to be a reader. I know that there are many children who struggle with reading, and now-a-days the hard thing to do is to find books that are fun and enjoyable but aren’t at a basic level. (Which is one of the reasons that I’m a writer today!) I would encourage you parents to do a few things here.

You as parents need to be reading books and screening books for your children. You set a huge example for your children. So if you read and enjoy it, they will start to pick up on that. You’ll also be able to find books that you can pass off to your children to read and then discuss it with them.

One of the most important things you can also be doing as a parent is to read books aloud to your children. Story books, the Bible, biographies… Anything! Our family has read tons of books aloud. We’ve read so many Lamplight books, biographies from the Then and Now series, books on family life and church life, classics, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Reading to your kids help fuel them in a love for learning and helps build quality relationships.

Once you get your kids reading, then you can introduce writing. My parents started me off by writing short reports about the books I was reading, field trips that we went on, etc. These were very short and basic, but I learned how to put thoughts together and organize paragraphs and apply the little bit of grammar I had learned.

As your children get older, the projects will obviously get bigger and longer. We’ll save that topic for another day, though. :-) But there is something I want to talk about here.

I have a younger brother who is definitely more science and numbers oriented. My parents asked me to help him learn how to put some of his thoughts onto paper. We started going through a curriculum, and then I gave him a situation and asked him to write a very short creative story. I wasn’t expecting much. But what he brought back to me was amazing! Of course it needed work, but he simply needed an idea to get him rolling. Now, he can write!

So for your children in middle school and high school that struggle with writing, vary their reports and essays with creative writing. If they can’t think of anything, give them a situation. Here’s some ideas to help get you thinking:

  • Make up a story about an outing with some of your best friends.
  • Make up a story about your family.
  • Make up a story in medieval times about a squire who is about to become a knight (this would also combine history research and writing together!).
  • If they have a favorite character from a book or book series, have them write more about that character.
  • Make up two fictional best friends and put them in a different state so that they can have fictional lives and you can write whatever you want about them.
  • What about a story about someone lost in the woods?
  • People stranded on a desert island?
  • A medieval princess growing up?
  • A hunting expedition, either in current times or another century.
  • Think about time travel!
  • Younger children often like to write stories about animals.
  • A story about a person in the Bible or someone in Bible times, like I did!
  • Have them write down stories that their grandparents or aunts or uncles tell them.
  • Stories of people with exciting jobs, like firefighters, police officers, astronauts, etc.
You can also give them situations like this:
“Ok, write about a cashier in Wal-Mart who’s working and tired and all the power goes out.”
“Write about finding a purse and having to return it to someone.”
“Write about a person rescuing an animal.”
“Write about seeing some little kids being bullied.”
“Write about observing a car accident.”
Also, I would highly recommend having your older children email frequently with “pen pals.” When your children have to put their thoughts down on paper to communicate with their friends, they’ll quickly pick up on spelling errors, grammatical errors, and other things that it’s hard to do when you’re just writing on paper. It also gives them some motivation to write and to get better at it.
There’s my thoughts for the day! :-) I’ll continue to post about motivation and teaching writing over the course of this blog, as well. :-) Thanks for reading! Happy Writing! :-)