Evaluating Writing is the parents' manual for all of the Writing Strands books.
I am often asked by homeschooling parents, "How do I evaluate my children's writing?" This is not an easy question for me to answer because I find evaluation challenging, even after 30 years of evaluating children's writing and talking to them about it.
There are some things that children do need that I am sure you can give them. They need to feel good about what they do. This is just like you and me. We need this, too, and we're adults. This is one of the very good reasons that so many parents are homeschooling. Their kids weren't feeling good about what they were learning (or not learning) in school.
Making your children feel good about learning to write is not hard to do. It has a lot to do with your attitude as each child watches you react to what has been written. I think of it this way: if my wife made a list every night of all the things I did wrong during the day and told me how much I needed to learn, I would run away from home.
What kills children's desire to write is, when they put their hearts on a pageŚand this is exactly what they do when they writeŚand mom looks at it and says, "This is nice, but look at that spelling. You didn't learn anything about spelling all year. And the punctuation! We've got to get back to the basics of commas. Let me find my red pen and point out all of these errors for you." These children will want to run away from writing, and so would I.
An important thing to keep in mind is that children want to learn and want to please their parents. As a teacher, what a great position you're in. Find something absolutely wonderful about what has been written and ask your child to read that aloud. Then ask your child to read it to you. Then ask your husband or wife to read it. And then ask your child to read it to you both because you both think it's so beautiful. Now your child will feel good about what's been written. At this point, rather than point out all the things that are wrong with the paper, you can show one or two ways to make it even better. Say that the writing is almost perfect, and to make it perfect, you have one rule that you'd like to explain. Read that one rule and explain how it works. Help your child apply that rule to the writing. This will demonstrate what that application has done to that almost perfect sentence. Now, read it again and call it perfect! Your children will break their hearts trying to write perfect sentences for you.