Essay Test for Mom

I asked my daughter, "So, what did the teacher say about your essay?" I tried not to sound anxious.

I sent my daughter to a one-day essay-writing class for teens. She has never taken a writing class before. The only writing assignments in the past years from me have been written narrations, Charlotte Mason style. I introduced the essay format only a few weeks ago for the first time, though my daughter did have a smattering of written assignments in a Shakespeare class last year. Written narrations have been essentially her only writing assignments until this fall.

I signed up my daughter for the class not only for her to receive instruction and feedback from someone other than me, but because *I* wanted to know how we were doing. How does her writing compare to her peers? Did I ruin her writing by waiting until this year to give formal instruction? Should I have asked her over the years to write about her summer vacations, or about what she wanted to be when she grows up, or about her opinion of grilled cheese vs. peanut butter sandwiches? Is she hampered by not mastering the mechanics of a three-point paragraph? Did I mess up by waiting so long to tell her why clauses and phrases are separated by commas most of the time, but not necessarily always?

"Well, what did the teacher say?"

Nice place for an essay-writing class, don't you think?

"Mom," my daughter said, "the class was so much fun!" And I relaxed.

Apparently the instructor complimented her on her vocabulary (thank you, living books!). on her references to examples in literature (thank you, living books!), and on her engaging writing style (thank you, living books!). She also commented on my daughter's legible handwriting (thank you, copywork from living books!).

The area that needs correction is proper use of commas and semi-colons. I already knew we needed to cover the technicalities of punctuation. Not a surprise, and not a problem.

"That's it?" I asked. "Anything else?"

"No, except the teacher told me to keep writing and to keep reading. She said the best way to learn to write is to read a lot."

I know I've heard that advice before. Oh, thank you Charlotte Mason. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. Oh... congrats to your daughter, to you. How inspiring!

    And since she loves the class she will get those technicalities of punctuation and more!

  2. Way to go mom and daughter! What a great affirmation of what you've been doing!

  3. Don't you just love hearing that affirmation?! My kids have both had compliments on their writing at college - and one was pretty much a reluctant writer...but he did enjoy books. We knew he had it in him! lol

  4. "Did I ruin her writing by waiting until this year to give formal instruction?" I think that question represents a struggle that happens in me sometimes with the CM method. We're not doing what my daughter's peers are doing in school. Gulp. But then I take a deep breath and recall the times I've already seen CM methods pay off, and we're only in Year 4!

    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. i'm so glad you shared about this!

    how many times have you asked yourself why you ever doubted?! ;)
    oh, and you will have a carnival submission this time around, yes?

  6. Just stumbled upon this from another blog linked here. It was very encouraging to read. I have a would-be-3rd-grader and we are very relaxed and I don't do much with writing outside of reading aloud. My friends roll their eyes when I tell them this, but I am remaining firm in that I feel reading aloud is the best form of writing instruction. We also do copywork and I dabble in narration from time to time. And my son also has me transcribe lots of stories. The time will come. But that time isn't now.