Preparing your Teen for College Writing

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This week was all about finishing up college writing assignments for my daughter. She had an opinion paper to write, a research paper to finish, and a bibliography to create.  

She was also asked to annotate and summarize in the margins, while reading a research paper for her business class. We are finding that there is lots of writing at college. 

I met with my daughter to hear how she planned her writing and study time, and she took it from there.  She is doing well with her college writing assignments this year.

I thought back to her high school days and how we did her high school english at home. So today, I'd like to share seven things that we did for high school english, that have helped prepare her for college writing. 

1.  First thing - Write a Lot

I encouraged her to write. A lot!  In whatever way that she felt motivated to do....  Write about a newspaper article, write some dialog to a short story, write how to's - such as a recipe, or how to find a good deal on cell phones, etc.  

It is also helpful to introduce your teen to different types of essays, such as narratives, expository essays, persuasive essays, etc. Time for Learning has a great resource for that here.  But the topic is always teen-led.

2.  Literature and Composition 

Whether you use a prepared curriculum, like IEW , Oak Meadow,  SOS, or put together your own course, literature and composition are vital for college writing. Many colleges ask for both of these components on transcripts for high school english.  They are looking for both literature and composition on the transcript.  

Doing it yourself, with your own homemade course, can work well, too, by choosing good literature and assigning essays to go with it. Time for Learning has a helpful resource for do-it-yourselfers - It is a listing of writing standards for 11th and 12th grades.  

3. Literary Analysis

Doing literary analysis was key for my daughter, too.  It taught her critical thinking skills, preparing her for more complicated essay writing in college.  Many of the prepared english programs, mentioned above, will guide you in teaching this important skill. 

Oak Meadow did this by asking lots of questions to ponder about plot, setting, character development, etc. I found these helpful in getting my daughter to really dive into literary analysis.  Ambleside Online also has a great sample list of narration questions as well.  Here's another great resource on this, from IEW - Windows to the World - An Introduction to Literary Analysis.

4.  Ask Lots of Questions

When discussing literature with your teen and having them do their written narrations or essays, ponder the why's and how come's of the story, the plotline, how the setting impacted the plot, etc.   

5.  Creative Writing

If your teen is interested in writing fiction, I would encourage that. Writing fiction is a great way for kids to learn the components of literature - setting, point of view, characters, plot, etc. 

6.  Do Research Reports

Writing research reports gave my daughter practice in the all the components of researching, such as note taking, compiling data, drafting, revising, and the all important bibliography.

7.  And of course, practice the steps of writing, from brainstorming to publishing.

Time for Learning has a simple outline of these steps here, which include Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, and Publishing. My daughter disliked making an outline, but learning to outline has really paid off in college.

After handing in her assignments, we took some time to go on a mini road trip and stop by our favorite farmer's market.  I was amazed at all the vegetables that were already available there.  And lots of great apples, too.

That got me busy cooking, and making applesauce.  Nothing like homemade applesauce.  We had it with latkas, potato pancakes, for dinner.    

Are you homeschooling high school?  What is your favorite way to encourage writing for your teen?  Thanks for stopping by and I love reading your comments.

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Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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  1. Writing can be an intimidating subject to teach, but it sounds like you've done a great job with it! And the applesauce looks absolutely fantastic. :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, The Mama Behind the Story, and for sharing your comments! We took the high school writing work one day at a time, and that made it approachable and more fun. And, thanks for your comment on applesauce, an important ingredient to any fall project, anytime! Have a good weekend!

  3. Great tips! We are using Windows to The World and I like it so far.

  4. Thanks, Donna Stone, for your kind comment! Nice to hear that Windows to The World is working well for your family. My teen learned so much from doing literary analysis, and it helped her a lot, later, with her freshman college writing. Have a good day!

  5. Thanks, Donna Stone, for your kind comment! Nice to hear that Windows to The World is working well for your family. My teen learned so much from doing literary analysis, and it helped her a lot, later, with her freshman college writing. Have a good day!


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