Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Help! How do I grade writing assignments?

One of the big questions Shelly and I often get from homeschool moms concerns the evaluation of writing assignments. Some moms tell us they don't have a clue how to begin. Others say they know good writing when they see it, but still aren’t sure how to evaluate it.

Let’s start with some general observations about writing and then another day we’ll get more into some of the nitty-gritty details.

Purpose of writing. Before you begin to evaluate your children’s writing, remember why Christians write. We write for the glory of God to inspire, to instruct, and to entertain. Writing is a blessing, so don’t allow past struggles, doubts, or comparisons with others cheat your children out of this blessing. If there’s one thing you can give your children to help them in college, it’s the ability to write well.

Applaud their efforts. There’s something personal about writing. It’s like you’ve bared your soul for others to see—even if the article isn’t about you! So find something to appreciate about your child’s efforts. Notice the good imagery or word choice. Appreciate their creativity. Or at least comment on the nice handwriting.

Consider losing your red pen. Seriously, how many of you moms liked having a teacher bleed all over your papers? For years in my writing classes with homeschool students, I placed a small pencil dot in the margin where I found a mistake. Then I required my students to make corrections themselves. I think it’s a good learning process if they have to process for themselves what’s wrong.

It’s only one assignment. Don’t fall into the mistake of trying to make everything about the assignment so perfect today that they’ll hate writing tomorrow. Not every assignment has to be ready for a contest. Celebrate this one even if he’s improved a little. Take into consideration your child’s age. Second graders probably aren’t ready for complicated fiction assignments.

Shelly and I love writing so we have lots more to share with you. We’ll give you more specific ideas this Thursday on how to evaluate your children’s writing.

How about you? Do you struggle with evaluating your children’s writing? Are your kids sensitive about their writing? Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences.


  1. I definitely struggle in this area. This is the greatest area of concern I have in our homeschool. I will be reading to learn more from you both!

  2. Check back on Thursday, Kristi. We'll give some specific guidelines.