We don’t do a lot of the typical writing activities and assignments that are popular in public schools (and homeschools!). In case you are over your shock and horror over the fact that I don’t have any assigned reading in my homeschool, I have also never assigned my fourth grader a book report! Neither have I required her to keep a journal or to write a story. We haven’t used any writing prompts either.

It’s my opinion that young writers do not need to be made to be creative — they are creative by nature! Just as a young child will freely build, paint, or draw if given the tools and the media to do so, they are also constantly creating stories and expressing their ideas through words and play.

The trouble with requiring creative writing (in young children especially) is that you are compelling a child to create without having first provided the tools required! Expecting a young child to compose a piece of original writing can actually prove to be quite stressful — the physical act of writing, spelling, grammar, AND the challenges of organizing his own ideas can be overwhelming.

This is why it is essential that the focus be on developing the skills of self expression first. What they need most is mastery of the tools required to properly express themselves.

How are these skills developed? What are these tools?

COPYWORK, NARRATION & DICTATION: simple and effective methods for building strong writers in the early years

The good news is that laying the foundation for good, written self-expression is very simple. You don’t need to invest a lot of money (or even time) to work on these skills with your child. Any good, early writing curriculum will include these three components, this three pronged approach to writing instruction:

  • Copywork: copying from a model
  • Narration: telling back in one’s own words what was heard
  • Dictation: hearing, remembering, and transcribing word for word what is heard

Copywork, narration, and dictation are found throughout the classical and Charlotte Mason models in the early years, and any good writing curriculum will not only include these components but be based on them.

Join me in this series of three posts as I explore the value of these tools, and how we have implemented these early writing methods in our own homeschool:

Copywork... a simple yet effective tool for building strong writers in the early years

Building early writing skills through narration - the skill of oral composition

Dictation: How Memory and Mental Pictures Build Writing Skills