One of the must have components of the Robinson Curriculum is a daily essay. This of course was a big selling point for me because I love writing. I am an ESL student so I have always struggled with spelling and grammar but I still love to just express my thoughts.
I believe it is something to fight for in a digital age where Buzz Feed is becoming king among the next generation. There is nothing new under the sun and I wonder if hieroglyphics from the past is being recycled now in Meme form. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good meme, in fact I have a fb page dedicated to memes only..BUT I realize the importance of being able to express yourself in written form.
If you have been online at all, you have seen how people today have a tough time convincing others of their beliefs. It quickly escalates to all caps, name calling and personal attacks when your views are challenged. For all the above and many other reasons I strongly agree that a child should be writing something every day on their own. Even if you do not do the Robinson Curriculum I believe this is something that can be easily applied to any other curriculum, if it’s something you desire as well. Perhaps you may be wondering where to start? In this video I explain my process from copying just a sentence or two to full on page essays daily.
I would love to hear if you have any other ideas or methods!
If you prefer to read than to watch a video, then just skip down below the video to get the same information.
The book I mentioned in the video is-
Learning Essay Writing” by Marvin Eicher (Rod and Staff
There are basically 4 types of essays, they are-
An EXPOSITION explains an idea or process;
an ARGUMENTATION sets out to prove a particular point of view;
a DESCRIPTION shows the reader how something looks, sounds, or feels;
and a NARRATION tells a story.”
I typically let my older girls decide what they want to write about, but if they are stuck I will quickly google ‘writing prompts’ and give them a few to choose from.
But how do we get here? Here is my progression.
-Pentime Writing Books for printing and by book 2 they are starting cursive.
-Once they can write well, they copy a sentence. I usually pick a Proverb from the Bible. You could pick a line from a book or a house rule, anything you want.
-Then I alternate between simple dictation and copy work. 2 times a week dictation and 3 times a week copy work.
-I then take away the dictation and just have them do copy work everyday.
-Once copy work is going great, I bump it up to a paragraph of copy work every day. I usually choose a portion of a book we are reading.
-Once that is going well I let the child choose between writing letter or writting an essay. To me this gives them a chance to produce their own content in a stress free way. It’s just like talking to a friend, the ideas will come.
-After a while of fun letter writing, it’s time to write essays at least 2-3 times a week. Then we gradually get it to every day.
-At first I am not to strict with essays. Just writing a page of their own ideas is enough for me but I do correct them and have them re-write them. If I see it might be too much for them, then I will only correct them 2-3 times a week. I can tell on days that I don’t correct they are carefree and write better because they are not concerned with spelling. The days they know I will correct, they will limit their vocabulary to words they know how to spell to avoid rewriting so much. However I got around that by making them rewrite the whole thing even if they only got two words wrong. It may sound mean but if they know they will have to re-write the whole thing anyway, they will use more words that they are not 100% sure of the spelling thus producing better essays in general. In the beginning though I will say write an essay but no corrections today..you would think I announced a holiday! However as time progresses, they will get used to it and rewritting will be a normal part of the school day. The key is just gauging your children. Each will be different and handle the process differently and you will know when to let up and when to push down. Finding that sweet spot of challenging them but not choking out their creativity will get easier with each child.
-That’s it. Then they will be writing an essay every single day and you will correct it and they will re-write it.
It really is one of my favorite things to get a glimpse into their little souls what they are thinking and feeling.
I hope this was helpful for you. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
Here is ONE book I totally recommend in regards to writing. You don’t need any workbooks. This ONE book will be your everything for all the elementary school years. It’s pretty much where I got this process with my own adaptations. It was very useful to me!
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