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Writing Warm-Ups: Conversations
Last month I shared how independent reading works in our homeschool and how I struggle to teach my children writing. After I wrote those, I realized how much conversations permeate our homeschooling life, especially in language arts.
In Here to Help Learning (HTHL) lessons, there’s a “pause the film” feature that brought this tendency—and its value—to my attention. When you come to a “pause the film” break in a Here to Help Learning lesson, there’s a suggested topic of conversation. These conversations, and the many others we have throughout the week, serve as writing warm-ups for my older daughter.
How does conversation act as a writing warm-up? It’s simpler than you might think. Other than the prompts in HTHL lessons, I don’t plan topics. I don’t even schedule these discussions. They happen naturally, in the course of our days. My older daughter and I are voracious readers, and we constantly discuss books together. At first we just talked about the plot, character, and setting. As she got older we started talking about how we feel when we read. As she began working on more complex pieces of writing, we talked about literary devices that authors use to evoke feelings. Now that she’s in junior high, I’m placing a high priority on her figuring out how to use literary devices on her own. A lot of our conversations now revolve around how to create suspense or drama or a particular mood.
Not long ago, we were talking about how her chapter book (part of Here to Help Learning’s Flight 3, Essay plan) started a little slowly. We had just begun reading a book together that jumped right into the action, with backstory woven in during the first couple of chapters. After talking about how the author did this, why, and how it affected the story, she went to her manuscript with insight and understanding that went beyond what simply explaining those ideas to her would have accomplished. As she looked at her manuscript from both a reader’s and a writer’s perspective, she made changes that improved her book.
The more we talk about books and do oral literary analysis, the more my reader thinks like a writer, and she’s beginning to see how to write for readers. In some ways, she’s ahead of where I was as a writer when I was twelve years old, despite the fact that she doesn’t like to write!
Conversations are great writing warm-ups, and I will continue them for my daughter’s benefit and use them to improve my writing too.
How do you help your child warm-up for writing?
Want to read more about the connection between talking and writing? See what Beth Mora of Here to Help Learning has to say: Talk Before You Write