How to Focus on Pre-Writing for High School

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I received a copy of WriteShop I and II and was compensated for my time in writing this post. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is getting started.

Do you agree?

Where do you start?

What do you want to say?

The same is true for high schoolers.

High schoolers write a lot.

Especially in the second half.

Most especially as they approach senior year.

There’s college entrance exam essays.

College application essays.

Personal essays.

Persuasive essays.

Narrative essays.

Essays about what they’ve read.

All the essays.

If your student is headed for education beyond your homeschool,

they need to be able to write a trim, compelling essay.

So, our job as homeschool moms is to get them into tip top essay writing shape.

And one of our go to training tools

is the pre-writing process.

The writing before the writing.

Tips for Doing Pre-Writing with Your Teens

How does your teen approach a writing assignment?

Are they the dash in type?

The slow stroll sort?

Or maybe they are the frozen still kind.

Preparing to write before you write is a good skill.

It lets you ease in and set the stage.

The more you ruminate on your writing, the better it will be.

Describe an object is a review topic in WriteShop II. Middle schoolers count too!

Here are some of our tried and true pre-writing tips:

  • Determine your topic– most of the time when an assignment is given, there is room for choice. Choosing well is the first step.
  • Choose a topic that has potential– for you (speaking to your teen here). If you get to pick, then pick something you find interesting or one you have a big opinion on. It makes things easier later!
  • Do some research– get to know your topic if you haven’t already. Do more if you are familiar with your topic.
  • Brainstorm– I also call this the brain dump. For me, it doesn’t have to take any special form. I just stream of consciousness get it all down in a list. Whatever I can think to say at that time is put to paper. I can sort it out later.
  • Organize your thoughts– This is when you take the items that brewed up in the storm and move them around into an order that makes sense. Some people like to use graphic organizers for this step. I work more in a more linear fashion!
  • Find what’s missing– is there something not included. Did you find out everything you need to know? Time to do more research to fill in the gaps or round out some thoughts.
  • Give it some time– before I sit down to do the first draft of a piece, I let all this work sit for a bit. When I come back to it, I will be able to add in anything else I feel is important and usually something relevant comes to me in that interim or as I sit back down to the work. For me, it’s an important step in the prep work of any piece of writing. I give it time after the first draft too!

Tools for Pre-Writing

Now that you have some idea of what a pre-writing process might look like, what are some tools you can use with your teens to make it happen?

  • Paper– loose leaf paper will do. Have you heard how much I adore old fashioned notebook paper?
  • Pen– put your thoughts on paper. Nothing fancy here. Unless we’re talking about pens. Because pens.
  • Graphic Organizers– there are all sorts of visual organizers out there, but I’m sort of a purest. Notebook paper all the way and design your own way of visualizing the information. It goes a long way to organizing the first draft.
  • Bubblus– This web based software lets you make a mind map on the computer. You can drag the lines anywhere and find new relationships between your items.
  • Partner– if you are looking to work with someone, bouncing ideas off of one another is a great way to brainstorm
  • Dictionary– Sometimes there’s nothing better than looking up a word to find a nuance of meaning. It helps you to choose the best word. I like to wait on words too.
Look at the beautiful pens.

Benefits of Using WriteShop II for Writing with Teens

WriteShop II is a writing program for grades 7-12

and WriteShop has been in our writing arsenal for a long time.

It’s one of my favorite writing tools.

If I had to pick one thing that Writeshop does best,

I would say it’s engaging students in the pre-writing process.

It breaks down the writing process for students.

And makes writing accessible for all kinds of writers.

Methodical writers

Confident writers

Disorganized writers

Gifted writers

Slow writers

Every writer.

What’s available to families when they choose WriteShop II?

  • Breaks down the writing process– for students and teachers by providing step by step instructions and exercises that are not overwhelming.
  • Guides a lesson with workbook pages– no guess work on prep or what to do next. Your student can work with you and independently through pre-writing exercises.
  • Provides tools for teaching editing to students– with a big emphasis on self-editing. Students are taught to notice their own writing. This is a win!
  • Includes evaluation resources– for teachers to grade student work. Checklists are provided, so there’s no guess work.
  • Makes available resources– for grammar rules and other necessary reminders for good writing
  • Focuses on Pre Writing– the building blocks of an essay are formed before writing the piece
  • Has concrete tips– for many points along the way
  • Includes all the high school writing– you could want like narrative, persuasive essays, etc

If you want to see WriteShop II in action, consider getting a sample lesson.

You can also visit WriteShop on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

WriteShop Freebies  for Your Homeschool

If you are like me, then you might like to dabble in many resources.

I like a lot of tools in my teacher toolbox.

WriteShop provides many resources for homeschooling families.

These two prompt calendars contain 480 writing prompts.

That’s a lot of writing consistency.

More than a year’s worth of daily writing.

For free.

Journal All Year! Teen Writing Prompt Calendar– for grades 7-12

Journal All Year! Elementary Writing Prompt Calendar– for grades 3-6

If you subscribe to WriteShop, these calendar resources are yours to keep for free!

For a limited time so hop on over!


Another tool for your teaching writing toolbox.

More Writing Ideas from Blog, She Wrote

Join Our Writer’s Workshop– I’ve put together a 6 week writer workshop with 3 activities each totaling 18 writing activities for a writer’s workshop. If you sign up, you get a link to a page with the 6 lessons.

Using Writing Conferences to Coach Writing– Outside of our formal curriculum use, this is our method of writing instruction.

Coaching Writer’s with a Writer’s Workshop– Do you know about writer’s workshops? These are fun way to encourage writers.

Our resident middle schooler. WriteShop II is for grades 7-12.

Are you ready?

It’s time to do some coaching!

Use the pre-writing process

to make your high schooler into

an essay writing pro-athlete.

Grab your toolbox

and get to work!


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