I always tried to say something posi-
tive and motivational first: “Grandma
will love your letter telling her about the
ballet recital!” “Oh, the monkeys were
my favorite, too. I loved the way you de-
scribed the little one clinging onto his
After a little judicious praise, I would
usually make one or two very minor cor-
rections. One time I might mention that
paragraphs are supposed to be indented
at the start. Another time I would point
out that sentences shouldn’t really be-
gin with a conjunction, such as “and” or
“but” although many writers do break
that rule when they want to emphasize
The key is to suggest corrections a little
at a time. Very few people like to get their
writing back with red marks all over it
and then be expected to rewrite it every
single time! It is so easy to turn people
off to writing! A little praise and a tiny bit
of correction go a long way towards creating kids who love to write as well as read.
About the time kids enter the seventh
grade or so, I usually start with some for-
eign language instruction. This is often
a great time to get a little more serious
about English grammar. For example,
when teaching conjugation charts in oth-
er languages, it is always interesting to
note that the English language is missing
a part. We do not have a second person
plural like most languages do. That’s why
regions add their own, such as: “Ya’ll,”
“Yous guys,” or, “You’ns.”
When I was about that age, I wrote a
short story about a soldier who ran away
from battle to the home of a young girl.
I knew it was a very good piece and was
extremely proud of it. In the last sentence
I wrote, “He came to me a frightened lit-
tle boy. He left a grown man . . . He never
My English teacher didn’t say much
about the quality of the story. Instead, she
fixated on the fact that I used the three
dots in between sentences and asked me
to rewrite it. I was already enough of a
writer to choose to ignore her request.
After all, I used those dots for a reason . . .
and I was the author!
Be sure to recognize this in your kids.
If they love to write, treat them like authors. Don’t turn them off by focusing on
minor points of grammar. That doesn’t
mean you should stop helping them.
After all, real life authors use editors, too!
Mary Hood, Ph.D., and her husband, Roy, homeschooled their five
children since the early 1980s. All
have successfully made the transition to adulthood. Mary has a Ph.D.
in education and is the director of
ARCHERS for the Lord, Inc. (The Association of Relaxed Christian Home
Educators). She is the author of The
Relaxed Home School, The Joyful
Home Schooler, and other books,
and is available for speaking engagements. Contact her via her website,
Young Adult Fantasy
Ages 12 & up
Ages 15 & up
Ages 8 to Adult
Allon Books Where Evil is Connonted with Truth, Courage Tested,
A little praise and a
tiny bit of correction
go a long way
towards creating kids
who love to write as
well as read.