Please join me for this new, FREE online series! The name is inspired by eighteen years of Thursdays at the park with my homeschooling friends, which translated to several thousand hours of chatting with fellow parents—commiserating, building each other up, making it seem not so weird that we were living a life different from most everyone else we knew.

This occasional series will take a variety of forms: conference-style talks on specific topics, especially kids and writing; panels with other parents; open-ended chats on various topics; informal Q & A sessions. These webinars should be useful to homeschoolers, educators, and any parent who wants to take an active role in their child’s education. Some may also appeal to writers, or those who want to write.


* Dictation: A Revolutionary Approach for Helping Kids Become Writers

* How Do Kids REALLY Learn to Write?

If you’d like me to speak with your group, please contact me.

feedback from conference workshop participants:

“I left Patricia’s dictation workshop truly energized and excited. All anxieties and concerns about the development of my children’s writing flew right out the window! We now enjoy writing and look at it differently in a relaxed and fun-filled way. Learning about dictation and its many benefits has transformed the way we write, dried all our tears of frustration, and enhanced our creativity. What a gift she’s given us – freedom of expression. Don’t we all long for this?” –Meliss G.

“Patricia’s workshop helped me to think about writing in a new way. I feel that I will be more effective with my very reluctant writers. The workshop was very inspirational and life changing.” –Lisa W.

“Fortunately I’ve been able to attend several of Patricia’s workshops and her words never fail to leave me both enlightened and inspired. It is obvious to me that encouraging kids to express themselves is of great personal importance to Patricia and her experience and passion really do shine through in her speaking. But what I love most…? Heaps of useful tips and shared stories—the practical stuff that changes my thinking so I can go home and put my new perspective to real use.” –Shana R.

“Patricia was wonderful.  She inspired me to think about any kind of writing as ‘writing.’  We’ve been doing much more creative writing and poetry since the workshop.  It’s been fun helping my child think critically about language and how she wants things to sound.  Patricia helped me let go of how I thought 8 year-old writing was supposed to look and reminded me that finding a writing voice is more important right now than the mechanics.  I enjoyed her information about writing in general and came away feeling excited to not share the anxiety I felt around writing when I was younger.  Very refreshing and time well-spent.  Thank you, Patricia!” –Samantha B.

“Very useful information presented with insightful personal stories. Reaffirmed we’re on the right track.” –Heidi K.

previous presentations:

How Do Kids REALLY Learn to Write?
Based on an article written ten years ago, viewed more than 27,000 times and still shared almost daily, this talk digs into what is clearly a concern for many homeschooling parents. Learning to write can be one of the most challenging endeavors of childhood—although it needn’t be. There are many myths about how one should learn to do it, involving everything from grammar workbooks to assigned 5-paragraph essays. Let’s bust some myths! Experiences with my own children and sixteen years working with homeschoolers in writer’s workshops convinced me that the traditional school approach to writing isn’t necessary—and that it tends to teach bad writing! In this talk, we’ll examine the myths and look at what kids REALLY need to learn to write. (Hints: Deep conversations, rhyming games in the car, parents willing to take dictation…) We’ll reflect on your own quirky, individual kids and consider how you might inspire them to write. This talk should be helpful for parents of children at all ages, from the very young through teens.

Workshops Work!: How to Facilitate a Writer’s Workshop for Kids
One of the best ways to motivate a child to write is to find authentic audiences for their words. This can be challenging for homeschoolers, but writer’s workshops are an excellent solution. A workshop is simply a gathering where writers share their writing with one another and offer feedback. Workshops work for all ages, from very young kids who still dictate their ideas, through teens, who especially appreciate peer feedback. They can be nearly magical in motivating kids—the kids write for themselves and each other, not for a demanding parent! Even better: they’re fairly simple to facilitate. This workshop will give you all the nitty-gritty details you’ll need to facilitate a writer’s workshop of your own—and inspire your kids to write.

Dictation: A Revolutionary Approach for Helping Kids Become Writers
Dictation simply means having one person write for another. It isn’t a method widely used in schools, simply because the adult-to-child ratio doesn’t allow it, but it’s an ideal way to approach writing for families. Many kids dislike writing because learning the mechanics—spelling, grammar, penmanship and keyboarding—is an incredibly difficult, complex task that can take years to master. Dictation allows kids to develop their unique, vivid voices as writers from a very early age, while acquiring those mechanical skills gradually and naturally over time–a totally different approach from the typical school model. It’s also a helpful technique for older, reluctant writers, and for fluent writers who need help starting a challenging project–even teens and college students. In this workshop we’ll explore the role of dictation in a fun, child-centered approach to writing. We’ll discuss tips for how to take dictation successfully, and we’ll examine the advanced writing skills that kids can pick up painlessly, simply by dictating what they have to say to a willing, writing adult.

Making Writing Meaningful for Kids
If you want your kids to be effective writers, the most important thing you can do is help them find meaningful venues for their writing. Learning to write as an isolated, “school” skill is not particularly motivating to kids, but writing on topics that matter to them, for real audiences can be highly motivating. In this workshop we’ll explore your own child’s interests and how those interests might apply to writing. We’ll look at different writing formats, beyond book reports and essays. (Lists! Parodies! Ultimate guides!) We’ll also consider the many ways kids might connect with others via writing. This will be a true “workshop” with lots of time for you to consider your own child, and the writing possibilities that might engage him or her.

Why Writing Matters and How You Can Help it Matter to your Kids
With our shifting technologies, writing is becoming more important than ever in our world. Literacy researcher Deborah Brandt writes, “For perhaps the first time in the history of mass literacy, writing seems to be eclipsing reading as the experience of consequence.” Yet at the same time, largely due to the current climate of standards and testing, most schools are giving writing short shrift. Progressive writing educators are calling for a writing revolution, saying that students need to write more often, with more freedom, about what matters to them, and in the formats that they’re using outside of school. Sounds a lot like what we homeschoolers do already, doesn’t it? In this workshop, we’ll begin by looking at the research to gain a better understanding of writing’s status in the world and in schools. Then we’ll explore how we homeschoolers are in an excellent position to encourage exciting, profound, child-centered writing experiences for our kids—all kids, from the youngest through the teens. Together, we’ll brainstorm ways to turn your child’s personal interests into meaningful, engaging writing. If you’ve ever worried that your child might learn to write better in a classroom setting, come to this workshop and prepare to be surprised.