If you want your homeschooler to write more frequently, give them prompts and restrict the writing time. Topical, thematic, and quote prompts can spark ideas for writing essays and speeches in your home school. In addition to getting those creative juices flowing, timed prompts can increase the frequency of writing and public speaking. The more practice your homeschooling kids gather in writing and speaking…the more effective they will be at communicating.
Prompts Encourage More Frequent Writing and Speaking
If you like an efficient home schooling schedule, prompts will allow your kids to squeeze the most out of their writing time. When given the topic of the essay or speech, time is maximized. Valuable brainstorming time is spent examining one topic instead of sifting through multiple topic possibilities.
In our home school, we have also limited the amount of time spent developing the essay or speech. For instance, I find that the kids really enjoy using prompts because I set a time limit. They like racing against the clock, and they also like knowing that when the timer buzzer goes off, writing or speech is done for the day. Consider that first piece of writing a “draft” then have them edit and print the final copy the following day.
How much time to allocate to writing an essay or speech from a prompt really depends on the ages and abilities of your kids. My kids are both teens, and they will eventually be taking the SAT which has a 25 minute essay, so that is our time limit for a written essay. Here is how I do it:
- Select a unique topical, thematic, or quote prompt for each child (or give them 3 to choose from)
- Get the timer ready (I use a swimmers or runners stopwatch, but you could use a kitchen timer or the microwave timer)
- Tell the kids to pull out some clean paper
- Give them the prompt or let them choose their favorite of 3
- Say “ready, set, go!”
- When the buzzer goes off after 25 minutes, I say “time.”
Since they are preparing for the real SAT exam, they follow the same restrictions which include outlining the essay during the 25 minute time limit, but if your kids are younger, you could help them brainstorm and create a key word outline before you start the timer. You don’t want to create frustration because they don’t have enough time to write, so use your judgment for what is best for your family.
I follow the same format for impromptu speeches except the time limit is different. Meredith and Connor both compete in National Christian Forensics Communication Association (NCFCA) Speech and Debate Tournaments, so we follow the NCFCA rules which state that a student has 2 minutes of prep time once they get the topic to give a 5 minute impromptu speech. Expository speeches cannot be longer than 10 minutes, so I give them 4 minutes to get ready.
The great thing about selecting the topic (through prompts) and restricting the time on writing the essay and giving the speech is that you can do more of them! When you only have to commit less than 30 minutes a day, you can give them a prompt more than once a week. Frequent writing and public speaking improve technical skills as well as reduce anxiety and fear.
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Do you have a child ages 9-12 who likes to write? Check out the “novels” section of my preteen book store, best homeschool books for preteens, and you’ll find some great writing resources including how to write essays about literature.