When I was working on my Master’s Degree, I had to complete a field research project. Since I was a school teacher at that time, I was fortunate to be able to study my students I had that school year. The topic I chose was Word Processing. I investigated whether word processing during writing projects made a difference in student writing abilities. In this article, I want to share what I found and how it can apply to homeschooling.
I do not want to share all the details of the project, as it was a 60 page paper when I was finished with it… lol. However, I do want to share what I learned as a result of this project. During the first part of the project, when the students completed creative writing projects, I recorded their grades and the number of words they had written. During this phase, we did not use any word processing. During the second phase, after they had had extensive time and practice with word processing, I began to have them type their writing project every other week. I did this so that I would be able to compare their scores and number of words written between word processing weeks and handwritten weeks.
As a result of this project, I DID NOT find out that when using word processing that the students miraculously became better writers…lol… although that would have been very magical!!! My students were only in second grade during this project, and even though most second-graders only have introductory experience with keyboards, I still was able to learn some interesting things.
First, I found that when children were given an opportunity to write using word processing, that they wrote a higher amount of words. I also found that their attitudes regarding writing were MUCH better after using word processing than they were before having the opportunity to use that technology. I was very excited to see that the data I collected revealed this, but it was not until I began homeschooling that I really began to further develop additional ways in which word processing can be used to help children in their learning and writing.
So, even though word processing is not a miracle cure for the hesitant writer, it does offer some encouragement. Although, children having better attitudes about their writing is a very good place to start. Now, I do want to clarify a couple things before I talk about ways word processing can be used with your children at home.
Most importantly, I DO NOT think that children should ONLY use the computer or word processor (we use the small, kid-friendly device called an AlphaSmart). It is very important for children to develop their handwriting skills and it is important for them to have times when they complete their school work and projects in their own handwriting. In addition to the development of their fine motor skills in their hands, writing is also a very useful tool for communication and they will need to be able to form thoughts in writing that is legible, so they can effectively communicate in that way as they grow and also through their adult lives.
However, the use of word processing can offer some enriched learning opportunities for children as well. If possible, they really enjoy playing around with the different font styles and colors and sizes, too.
Here are some ways we have used word processing in our homeschool:
- Type spelling words on the AlphaSmart or computer
- Younger children may enjoy “writing” on the keyboard (they can get on the computer and type any letters they want)
- E-mail (you can set up and supervise your children’s e-mail and let them communicate with others in your family electronically)
- Alphabet practice (let you children type the letters of the alphabet in order)
- Write a story using the computer and then adding clip art pictures to go with it (my children have also used Microsoft Paint to create a drawing to go with their pictures and then inserted the picture they made into their story before printing)
- Slide show reports (one sentence per slide to describe a picture or tell about something they are learning)
- Although we would never save it or print it, my children have enjoyed “typing a book” (they take a favorite book and type the words from the story into the AlphaSmart word processor)
- Instant Messaging (if you have multiple computers in your home with IM set up on them, you and your child could instant message messages to each other)
Have fun with using word processing in your home and with your children. There are so many possibilities for fun learning… right at your fingertips. ?
Copyright © Alicia Tucker, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved
About the Author: Alicia Tucker is a homeschool mom of 3 children, after having worked in public schools in NJ and SC for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology, as well as a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Technology. Alicia is also Moms of Faith Lead Prayer Warrior and columnist.