Teaching paragraph writing to kids can be a really frustrating process.
Even with all of the correct information, curriculum, worksheets, encouragement, and practice – it can still be a significant uphill challenge.
This is especially true if you are dealing with reluctant writers or kids with perfectionist tendencies (and I’ve got both of those!).
I am a homeschool mom of three girls – currently in 6th grade, 3rd grade, and 1st grade – so I have a first-hand look into the struggle.
With my oldest child, we have gone from writing resistance complete with tears to writing paragraphs with confidence!
I want to share with you the VERY EASY thing I did to navigate this path and help you and your child do the same thing.
In this blog post you will find:
- My Own Writing Experience
- The Typical Way to Teach Paragraph Writing
- The Disconnect For Many Kids
- The Easy Way To Teach Paragraph Writing
- Why We Love Paragraph Writing For Kids
- Results We’ve Seen
- My One Complaint
My Own Paragraph Writing Experience
Upfront, I was an overachieving student who probably took school a little too seriously.
I did well in school and excelled in my college writing classes. I even taught some of my roommates how to write 5 paragraph essays during my freshman year.
Today, I am a professional writer and I still really enjoy everything about putting my thoughts into written form.
My oldest daughter, who I’ve homeschooled since 1st grade, is an outstanding creative writer.
I have reviewed tons of homeschool writing curriculum, and I feel comfortable teaching writing & grammar – parts of speech, complete sentences, brainstorming, punctuation, journaling, etc.
With all of these points, I thought for sure that teaching paragraphs would be a walk in the park.
In fact, please cue the frustrated groans of an 11-year-old who has just been told she needs to write a paragraph about Native American culture.
The Typical Way To Teach Paragraph Writing
Long before that writing assignment for my child, I went through the standard paragraph writing steps below:
- Paragraph structure worksheets about identifying topic sentences, supporting sentences, and concluding sentences
- Instruction on how to identify supporting ideas that “don’t belong” between the top bun (introduction sentence) and bottom bun (closing sentence)
- Brainstorming maps or graphic organizers to come up with ideas, topics, and supporting details
- Reviewing the correct steps of the writing process, including editing and revising after the first draft of the paragraph is written
- Ensure all verb tenses match
- We even wrote paragraphs together, with me writing side by side with my student
- I attempted to create a low-stress environment by telling my student to “just start writing.” I told her we have to “make the playdough” today. Tomorrow we’ll take it and mold it into a finished product.
- Encouragement and positive feedback were always sandwiched around any criticisms that I had to make about the writing.
Sounds like a recipe for a well-written paragraph, right?
The Disconnect For Many Kids When It Comes To Writing Paragraphs
There are some kids that can do the above steps and be completely fine, writing good paragraphs with minimal guidance or additional instruction.
But there are others who get to the end of the lessons and still feel paralyzed by the idea of writing a paragraph on their own. Similar to how some people get a mathematical concept right away, and others need much more explanation and practice.
The typical paragraph writing lessons are simply not enough information, structure, or time to feel confident with writing an effective paragraph.
Younger students feel overwhelmed with coming up with a single topic, choosing details, putting the details in order, and unraveling the confounding mystery of an introductory and conclusion sentence.
Instructions like, “Write a sentence about the main idea of the paragraph,” or, “Write a concluding sentence that brings a sense of closure to the paragraph,” can be infuriatingly vague to kids.
Kids are also disheartened by how subjective writing can be.
With math, questions are either right or wrong. Writing has so much more “gray area” that always has room for improvement.
The Easy Way To Success In Paragraph Writing
I knew we needed help when I assigned my child to write a brief essay about the history topic we had covered over the last few weeks.
She had tons of information to work with, and she seemed genuinely interested in the topic.
But no matter how much support I gave her, she just seemed to be lost. Paralyzed. Confused. Stuck.
I got online that day to look for resources because I was out of ideas. My first stop was of course Common Sense Press. They put out such high-quality products, and we love their Language Arts Curriculum.
Thankfully, they had exactly what we needed – Paragraph Writing For Kids!
I ordered it right away and we stopped all other writing assignments while she worked through the material.
The workbook consists of 55 lessons – 11 lessons each to teach informative, narrative, persuasive, expository (how to), and comparative paragraphs.
What I Love About Paragraph Writing For Kids
1. Completely Independent
As I said earlier, I have three kids in my homeschool, so having a curriculum that can be done independently is always a winner for me.
The material is written directly to the student in an easy to understand – often funny – manner. My daughter is able to sit down and do the lessons, complete simple worksheets, make outlines, and write paragraphs without me.
I do look over her work and talk with her about any questions, but that has taken a minimal amount of time so far.
2. Very Budget Friendly
There is some writing curriculum out there that will blow your budget socks off.
To top that off, the Answer Key is a free download from the Common Sense Press Website.
You really can’t beat that for a high-qualty writing supplement.
3. Step-By-Step Process With Tons of Examples
Each style of paragraph is taught through 11 separate lessons.
The student is taken through simple steps as they learn how to choose the topic, make an outline, come up with specific details, put those details in order, build an introductory sentence, and come up with a fantastic closer.
Throughout each step, young writers are taught what they need to do with interesting paragraphs written by other children. Many lessons have multiple paragraphs for the student to read and learn from.
I never heard from my child, “I don’t know what to do!” or “I don’t understand this!” It is laid out in such a slow, progressive formula style that every lesson seems short and simple.
The end result is a well-organized paragraph and a lot of confidence for the student.
4. Fantastic Tips On Introductory And Closing Sentences
As I flipped through the lessons and reviewed my child’s work, I was nearly slack-jawed looking at the formulas the workbook offers for introduction and closing sentences.
I grew up with very broad instructions like, “Just write a sentence that introduces your topic, and then the last sentence should bring the paragraph to a close.”
Um…to an elementary-level kid that can be really challenging and confusing.
But the Paragraph Writing for Kids formula is so much more direct and helpful. I honestly wished I had something like this available to me as a kid.
5. Lessons Are Written In A Conversational Tone
These lessons are written to the student, and you can tell that the author took the time to make the lesson engaging and fun to read.
My daughter and I still laugh about one of the lessons that centered around a community Easter Egg Hunt gone wrong. I thought it was so clever and interesting!
Definitely not dry, complicated material that kids will have to struggle through.
6. Goes Through Five Different Types of Paragraphs
Paragraph Writing for Kids teaches informative, narrative, persuasive, expository, and comparative paragraphs.
It honestly did not even occur to me before buying this curriculum supplement how different each of these styles really is.
The basic paragraph writing instruction I mentioned earlier only really applies to the informative or narrative paragraphs.
I love that this curriculum takes a very thorough, step-by-step approach to explaining each of these types of paragraphs and provides an easy-to-follow formula for writing all of them.
I feel like my daughter is going to be so prepared for future middle school wiritng assingments and we will definitely be keeping the book to reference back to.
7. Easily Added To Any Language Arts/Writing Curriculum
Because the workbook is only 55 lessons, you can very easily customize it to fit your lesson plan and schedule.
You can stretch it over a year by only doing a couple of lessons a week. There is also the option to go straight through the book and finish it in less than three months.
And of course, you could do something in-between those two options.
We have been working fairly quickly through the curriculum, but it’s nice to take days off when we’re rushed for other things.
8. It’s So Easy To Use In My Homeschool
This whole article is about how to teach paragraph writing the easy way – and I can’t imagine anything that is easier, more streamlined, or more effective than Paragraph Writing For Kids.
I am so pleased with the material, writing formulas, length of lessons, and the number of lessons. I love that my child can do it mostly on her own.
I will definitely be purchasing more for my younger kids when they get to the paragraph writing point.
Results We’ve Seen From Paragraph Writing For Kids
I knew I had to write this review when my daughter first handed me a three-paragraph essay she wrote for her language arts curriculum.
There was no complaining. It took a reasonable amount of time.
And the results were shocking to me.
Her introductory and closing sentences were flawless.
The detail sentences were completely on point.
The paragraphs weren’t too long or too short.
And there were no tear stains on her cheeks. I literally saved it to go into her end-of-the-year portfolio to prove we did something besides creative writing this year.
As we continue to work through this curriculum, my daughter has been challenged, but she now feels like she has tools to help her write.
I also like that she and I now have a shared language to work through the writing process together.
My Only Complaint About Paragraph Writing For Kids
Both my daughter and I were hoping that Common Sense Press offered another level of this curriculum that focused on essay writing.
We would love to see the same incremental, formulaic approach to writing introductory paragraphs, concluding paragraphs, and transition sentences for a multi-paragraph essay or research report.
This is a huge struggle for many middle school students and high school students, so please don’t leave us hanging, Common Sense Press!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many lessons are there?
There are 55 lessons in the workbook.
11 lessons each for 5 different styles of paragraphs.
2. How long does it take to get through a lesson?
The lessons have been about 10-30 minutes, depending on what the lessons are about.
Some require more reading and writing. Others have simple worksheets.
My daughter considers it to be one of the easy parts of her day, so it has not been a struggle or drain on her energy.
3. Do I need a teacher’s guide?
Nope! The workbook is written to the student, so you do not have to teach these lessons. Depending on how well your child works independently, I would recommend reading through the lessons yourself.
This will help you give the student any additional support they might need.
I would also recommend bookmarking the online answer key for easy grading.
4. What ages is it intended for?
Paragraph Writing For Kids is appropriate for 4th grade – 6th grade.
If you have an older student who needs some help or review, I would just rip the cover off the book that lists the grade level.
5. Where do I buy Paragraph Writing For Kids?
You can purchase the workbook at the Common Sense Press website.
They also offer an eBook version, if you don’t mind printing it yourself.
6. What if my kid is a really resistant writer?
I have dealt with a very resistant writer, so you have my sympathy.
In my experience, there were some things that made an enormous difference.
The first and biggest thing I did was have my child do online typing lessons, and I allowed her to type all of her work. That caused the writing floodgates to open for her. For this workbook, she does write her outlines by hand, but she types most everything else.
If your kid struggles with spelling, that could very well be affecting their attitude about writing. Switching to All About Spelling helped my daughter feel much more confident about the words she was writing.
Lastly, encourage a love of creative writing before getting too crazy about more academic writing and paragraphs. Try daily journal writing or look into these amazing picture writing prompts to get your child excited about writing!
Recap Teaching Paragraph Writing To Kids
Are you hoping to find a tool that will help your kids become better writers?
If you are looking to work with your student on the basic structure of a strong paragraph, informational writing, narrative writing, descriptive paragraphs, persuasive paragraphs, or comparative paragraphs, this writing skills supplement is a fantastic tool to get you there.
I truly believe that Teaching Paragraph Writing to Kids is the best way to help elementary school students nail down the key components of writing in a fun, easy-to-understand way.
As a huge bonus, it’s inexpensive and doesn’t require a significant time investment from you.
If you have more questions, please drop them in the comments below! I’d be happy to answer all your paragraph writing questions!