Saturday, May 2, 2009
Things We Did Right-Part 3
As our children neared the end of their at-home education, I worried about how well equipped they were for the kind and level of writing that would be required at college. Even though I had been a high school English teacher, I felt very challenged in this part of home educating.
Now I realize that the most important aspect of writing ability really is thinking skills. The distinguishing characteristic of a good essay is the quality of thought expressed in it, so research and reading skills, and logical reasoning ability are the foundations of good writing. Those skills are being developed as we talk with our children, and usually in a stronger and more interesting way. Teenagers are naturally opinionated, even argumentative, and engaging in discussion develops their intellectual abilities. The ability to disagree with others in a respectful and polite way is an essential skill for our youth, both in educational and social settings, and the ability to explain clearly what they think is a large part of that.
We often focus primarily on mechanics of writing: things like sentence structure and punctuation. Those are important as well, since good skills in those areas allow us to express our thoughts understandably. But I'm glad we took time to talk with our children and work with them to help them see whether or not they had really considered what they were saying.