My children don’t typically jump for joy when given a writing assignment. Do yours? I’ve found several ways over the years to take writing from dreaded to enjoyable in our home, though. One of the most beloved of those ideas is writing newsletters.
Several years ago, I wrote the monthly newsletter for our church. I realized what a fun and meaningful activity it would be for my children to create their own newsletters for our homeschool. We decided to document our day-to-day adventures in what we called The Westward Gazette and send it out to immediate family members. Writing newsletters was not only a big hit with my children, but the (sometimes skeptical about homeschooling) recipients loved reading them!
Newsletters: A Unique Writing Assignment
We first started writing newsletters when my oldest children were 10 and 7. We all worked together the first couple of times so I could teach my children the ins and outs of newsletter design, changing fonts, changing colors, and adding graphics. I was amazed at how quickly they mastered the technology!
Better yet, the technology was so motivating they hardly knew writing was part of the assignment. Since a newsletter is typically filled with smaller bits of information versus long stories, they could write in small bursts and take breaks to add all the fun formatting.
Here is our first ever newsletter written as a team. ❤️ You’ll see it includes some fiction stories, an update of our ancient history unit study, a weather report, some science explanations and a book review.
For a while, we wrote newsletters every month or two. Yes, it was a tad bit exhausting to create them that often, but I wanted my children to become comfortable using the technology. Once they were competent getting around in the newsletter templates, we only wrote newsletters here and there.
Our second ever newsletter was also a team effort. We included an update of our busy days, some sample art work, a peek into our studies of China and Greece, and a short story written by the 10-year-old.
As you can see, our newsletters were usually two pages long and told about whatever exciting things were going on in our lives at the time. They made GREAT documentation for the end-of-year portfolios, but even better memories of our sweet time spent together homeschooling!
On the third newsletter, I was already stepping back and allowing them to do as much of the creation on their own as possible. They still worked together as a team. It included a synopsis of our space unit study, a list of books we were currently reading, a co-op update, a Keepers at Home update, and news about our littlest man (who is no longer little.)
As my children grew, their skills in writing and technology did, too! Over the years, we transitioned away from the update-style newsletters into special assignments that worked well with various studies.
These newsletters were written by my children individually during their middle school years. The baseball newsletter was a “tell me about your summer” writing to get my son back into the swing of school. The horse newsletter was simply a fun way to format some research my daughter had been doing.
What I love most about newsletters is the real-life aspect of the writing assignment. My children don’t want to do busy work as much as I don’t want to waste their time with junky assignments. Newsletters are a meaningful way to document homeschooling, share things that are important to my children, and promote creativity. When sent to family members, the writing gets a “real” audience – which is additionally motivating for children to do their best work.
My littlest guy (9) has yet to create his first newsletter. Guess what he gets to do soon??
Whether you have hesitant writers or eager writers, newsletters can work. I can’t wait to hear about your newsletter experiences!