Most homeschool moms have fond memories of teaching their children to read. And many homeschoolers love reading.
Most homeschool moms dread teaching writing to their kiddos. And many homeschoolers struggle with it, too…
Now, I don’t mean to confuse correlation with causation, here. But I have to admit that over the years, I’ve struggled with teaching my own kids to write, as well, even though I’m an author/writer by trade. And I personally know, or have talked to, countless other moms who have felt intimidated by the prospect or frustrated with the process of teaching their children how to write.
It’s generally not the mechanics. There are plenty of YouTube videos (this is a cute one!) and programs and just plain common sense to help you teach your son or daughter how to hold a pen and shape the letters. Although, given the increasingly younger age at which kids are now using keyboards, that may someday be a problem, too. But I digress…
Where the challenge does begin to develop
Writing can be a complicated process. First, you need to have characters – real or imagined. You then need an idea and a storyline. Finally, putting thoughts down on paper, organizing them in a logical fashion, and then incorporating all the rules and regs of the English language… And we still have to make it interesting and engaging? Oh my!
And that’s only on the student’s end.
As homeschool moms, we’re supposed to be able to somehow guide our kiddos through this morass of creativity and technicality. Often, despite the fact that we don’t even feel WE are good writers. And then we have to somehow grade or at least assess their efforts to help them improve? Oh my!
Additionally, over 60% of homeschooling families have 3 or more children, so there’s a good chance that momma’s got her hands full with a variety of ages – and how the heck are we supposed to handle it all?!
You feelin’ the problem?
One last thing I might mention is that the children we’re currently educating are considered digital natives. They’ve grown up with the internet, Google, keyboards, smartphones, and video games. It’s not only shaped their approach to learning and finding information (can you say “gamify“?) but also their attention span and frustration tolerance.
Like it or not, agree or disagree, it’s something that the current lot of home educators must keep in mind.
And I recently discovered a tool to use to teach writing to your kiddos that speaks to all these issues.
Introducing Night Zookeeper
From the very beginning, this program draws out your child’s creativity. They begin by drawing their own avatar and immediately follow up with creating and naming their own unique creature. Through the process of answering program-generated questions, they complete their very first report! (But shhh…don’t tell them!)
With each assignment, they’ll be given increasingly more difficult goals to reach (depending on their age), and off they go! They receive writing prompts and challenges (“designed to develop…vocabulary, improve grammar skills, and help…produce… better writing”), compete in weekly word-game competitions, and participate in “battles” as their skills develop. By gamifying almost every aspect of this program, your child develops his or her skills while having fun and without even knowing it!
(But I have to admit that I’d be lost without the help found in the Parent’s Guide and on the Parent Dashboard. Probably don’t need to tell you that I’m not a digital native, right?) The Parent Dashboard is also where you can keep up with your child’s progress, see the next lesson, read any comments left by tutors, and even leave comments of your own on your child’s work. You can also adjust for the difficulty level of their assignments.
Privacy is always an issue with online courses
Especially when we’re dealing with our kiddos! To that end, their privacy settings are very reassuring to a concerned parent.
Among their policies, they don’t post any personal information on the students, all comments are moderated, and all privacy settings are adjustable from the Parent Dashboard. They outline everything very clearly in that Parent’s Guide I referred to above.
So, to review how Night Zookeeper meets our initial challenges
1 – Your child-author needs to create a character – Handled seamlessly and creatively with the very first lesson!
2 – He (using male pronouns for simplicity) needs an idea and a storyline – There are numerous prompts and lessons and challenges that provide a seemingly endless source and supply.
3 – He needs to make the story interesting – They make it easy-peasy with all the interactive tools (prompts, questions, lessons…) included.
4 – He needs to become engaged in the writing process itself – Remember that “digital native” concept? Our kids are getting used to scrolling, reading the bullet points, and moving on to the next video, too! Gamifying the process of learning to write speaks specifically to that characteristic.
5 – He needs to “learn the tech” of writing: adjectives/adverbs/transition words/punctuation, etc – Check out the Appendices in the Parent’s Guide to see what your child will be learning in the way of vocabulary, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and parts of speech, depending on their age range.
6 – Homeschool moms are busy and could use some help in the outsourcing department. And what could be more helpful than having a third party – someone confident in their writing skills and abilities – provide immediate (or at most, within 48 hours) feedback to their kids?
And one last one I didn’t mention earlier…
7 – Homeschool families often need to watch their pennies. Nobody is providing our curriculum, nor are they paying us to use their products, am I right? For a family with three children, the monthly charge for Night Zookeeper comes to less than the cost of 2 skinny vanilla lattes (my favorite) at Starbucks. (If you have more than 3 kiddos you can contact them directly for special pricing.) But the cost of having this responsibility lifted from our shoulders? Priceless!
So whether you’re already planning for the upcoming school year or you’re researching an alternative to the writing program you may already be using…consider trying out Night Zookeeper’s free 7-day trial.
And then you can get back to focusing on your high schooler’s chemistry class or go change the baby – again 🙂