Some children love writing and choose to write little notes or annotate pictures they have drawn just for fun. Others are less keen and write only when they must. Reluctance can make writing a battle, and language arts becomes the dreaded subject of the day.
When our children aren’t loving language arts because of the writing, it can make us question our choice of curriculum. But all is not lost. Before we give up, start looking into a different curriculum, or think that our children are never going to grasp the idea of creative writing, there is one method that can provide a solution to many different writing-based issues—being a scribe for your child!
Reasons to Scribe for Your Child
Being a scribe simply means writing for your child. This technique works in many homeschool situations:
- Your child hasn’t yet grasped handwriting. Letters are sometimes misshapen, spellings are incorrect, and spacing between letters and words is all of a muddle. If you write down the words for your child, you can see a legible answer.
- Your child finds writing difficult. They may have special needs, or their strengths just may be in other areas, but the challenge of writing is getting in the way of their thoughts being put to paper. In this case, your writing down what they say allows them to focus on what they want to say next.
- Your child knows what they want to say, and plenty of it too, but the process of writing it down is slowing the flow of creative ideas. You can write faster than they can, so you can jot down their words as they speak, summarize them, and remind them where they were for them to continue.
Being a Scribe for Your Child Makes Learning Easier
In a nutshell, you scribe when you want your child to be able to focus more on the lesson you’re teaching and less on the process of writing.
For example, when your child is still learning to perfect their reading and writing skills, their handwriting may be work in progress. In this case, scribing has a great benefit.
If the point of the writing is to answer a scientific question, the purpose of the learning is that your child understands the scientific principle. The science is what you want them to think about and remember; focusing on the spelling or letter formation can detract from this learning. So, in this case, your acting as a scribe is almost certainly a good idea.
When you serve as a scribe, your child benefits from the homeschool lesson without adding in the complexities of simultaneously perfecting their writing skills.
Scribing for Your Child at Different Grade Levels
Simply writing down what your child says is not all there is to being a scribe. There are different ways to scribe, and you may use different methods and approaches at different ages and stages along the way. At any level, there are several different ways to scribe.
Scribing in Early Years
In the early years of kindergarten through grades 3 or 4,
- Simply write what your child says, word for word.
- Write what they say, faintly, on the paper, and have them trace over your writing,
- Write down what they say on similar paper, and have them copy your words onto the activity sheet.
Scribing in Intermediate Years
In grades 4 and up,
- Scribe for your child as you discuss the writing together. You can jot things in bullet form, then they can write the full text later, or you can act as their scribe at this point too.
- You can write in full, help them to edit the work, and then require them to write out the final copy.
- You can first act as scribe and then get them to type the work in full later. This can be especially useful to a learner with dyslexia.
Only you can decide what is the best method for your child, and even then this can vary from day to day and from subject to subject.
By acting as a scribe, you are making your child’s learning easier but not doing the work for them. So, unless there is no improvement in your child's desire and ability to write, then go with your instincts and scribe when it suits you both. That way, they’ll love to learn, and you’ll love to teach!