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August 27, 2015

One of my son’s issues is that he is really slow at writing.  Set him at a writing task, and we will hear over and over again that he doesn’t know what to write.  We’ll come back in half an hour and there will be two sentences on his page, at which point there might be yelling.  I got a prep book for the ISEE* and noted that there was a 30 minute essay included.  Fearing that he would turn in a mostly blank test book, I decided he should practice writing essays in 30 minutes.  This morning I gave him topic, told him he had 30 minutes, and it was like a miracle: he wrote a four paragraph essay in that time.  He needs to work on argument (as do 85% of my undergrads), but I was astounded at the difference it made.  I should have guessed, I suppose, based on his love of Math Minutes.  There are other ways to use a timer in homeschooling, and the Time Timer looks pretty cool for these purposes—though not cheap.  I’m reminded, too, that many academics use the Pomodoro method to get their writing done.  (I’ve always been motivated more by word count than time.)

* One of the reasons I started thinking about homeschooling was the ISEE sample tests online, which, when I looked at them last spring, seemed well beyond what my kid’s school was preparing him to do.

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