How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick.

How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick. How to build your teen's confidence for writing.

How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

Some teens are born writers. Many are not. Today our friend, Kat Patrick of Dreaming Spires Home Learning shares tips for building confidence and getting unstuck for teens who do not like writing.

Kat, who was born in Texas but married an Oxford professor and lived in England for twenty-five years, has been with us for three episodes already:

And Kat’s daughter, Lauren Patrick joined us right before she headed off to her freshman year at Mt. Holyoke University

Some of Kat’s teens have been enthusiastic writers but some were reluctant writers. Kat has used Charlotte Mason’s phases of developing a happy writer in helping her reluctant writers. Here are the phases as Kat teaches them in seminars and in her Dreaming Spires courses:

Got a reluctant writer? Build confidence by learning  in phases. - Kat Patrick

What do I mean by writing?

  • Handwriting is the first stage.
    • Believe it or not, this is so important. It helps develop the brain and skills in capturing words.
      • As Vicki points out that when she is working with her counseling clients, she tells them that handwriting a gratitude list actually helps some of the calm-down parts of the brain.
      • Kat points out that this skill also helps develop attention and memorization along with picturing words in their heads
      • It also helps develop vocabulary and sentence-creation skills
    • You can use copywork to develop this skill.
      • Copy quotes by hand
      • Copy Scripture by hand
      • Copy poetry by hand

Reading and telling back what you are reading is important to good writing

  • Kat recommends a book Know and Tell by Karen Glass that helps explain this skills
  • Teens can read and explain their reading to their mom.
  • This will help them build comprehension and inferential skills.
  • It also helps teens learn to capture their thoughts in a non-threatening way.

Then begin to write these ideas on in a jotting sort of way

  • Just jot ideas from on paper with no stress, no rules
  • Eventually, mom can ask for 150 words, then 200, etc
  • Then use this as the basis for a composition

Eventually, teens will learn to use these skills for composition

  • Ask teens to identify their audience
  • Ask teens to understand the format or genre of their composition
  • A good composition to start with is letter writing
  • Then write a journalistic/newspaper style article
    • You write a who-what-when-where-why type paragraph to start
    • Fill in interesting details afterwards
    • Try out a news feature followed by a lifestyle feature
    • You can use a pro-forma/template to simply plug in the details to get your teens started
  • Move onto the five-paragraph essay
    • Check out’s Introductory Guide to Essay Writing to get your teens started with these essays.
      • 7Sisters Writing guides take reluctant writers step-by-step through their first essays. Teens tell us the guides really help them learn the skills and gain confidence in their ability to write.
    • If a teen gets excited about essays, have them write about something they are passionate about.
      • Ask them to write an essay that is as long as they wish (much more than five paragraphs)
      • Kat explains that her formerly reluctant writer son has written long essays about:
        • Japanese jazz
        • Characters that he is impressed with in the books he is reading

Kat invites everyone to check out Dreaming Spires Home Learning. Dreaming Spires uses a college-model for education, with live classes once per week and assignments that last the rest of the week. Kat has students from around the world using the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling high school. Classes this year include:

  • Literature
  • Composition
  • World Languages
  • Advanced Algebra and Probability
  • Sciences
  • History
  • Art History and Appreciation
  • Bible

Join Vicki and Kat for some practical tips for developing writing skills in reluctant writers!


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How to Help Reluctant Writers, Interview with Kat Patrick

HSHSP Ep 144: Writing Research Papers, Interview with Kat Patrick

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

This week on HSHSP Ep 144: Writing Research Papers, Interview with Kat Patrick.

HSHSP Ep 144: Writing Research Papers, Interview with Kat Patrick. Tips for helping homeschool high schoolers develop skills for research paper writing.

HSHSP Ep 144: Writing Research Papers, Interview with Kat Patrick

Our friend, Dr. Kat Patrick, joins us for this episode to help guide through the important task of writing research papers.

Kat has helped us out with an episode about homeschooling in the United Kingdom and the United States AND in another episode, she shared how to teach Shakespeare and enjoy it.

Kat and her family have lived in England for 25 years (where her husband teaches at Oxford). They recently moved to Texas, where Kat was born. Kat started Dreaming Spires Home Learning, a Charlotte Mason inspired online program. She offers lots of popular live courses in lots areas.

Kat Patrick of Dreaming Spires Online Homeschool Courses, Interviewed on Homeschool High School Podcast

Photo used with permission.

Kat is an expert in teaching writing skills. She began teaching research paper writing during her graduate studies at University of Delaware. (Interestingly, just a few miles from where the 7Sisters live, we just never met at that time.) Kat loves teaching the skills of research paper writing, especially in taking notes and noting sources.

As Vicki points out, teens often complain about writing research papers while in high school because they are a LOT of work! However, they often come back to her to thank her for that requirement, because in college they more easily earn top grades in their composition courses. Even non-college-bound skills benefit from writing research papers.

Life skills that all teens gain from writing research papers include:

  • Building attention to detail
  • Building stick-to-itiveness and organization skills for doing large projects
  • Building patience for redos until things get batter
  • Building research skills for life (such as products, trips or services teens will need in life)
  • Building skills to evaluate sources (they can apply this to things they read on social media and elsewhere)

What are some resources Kat recommends?

  • Books (usually more than one book, including more than one perspective)
  • References from library
  • Good Reads website
  • Google Books
  • Sources listed at the bottom of Wikipedia articles (the sources cited in the article), not the article itself
  • Primary sources, including digital documents of out-of-print sources. (Simply Google search: *Primary source for…*). This is good because teens can begin to come up with some of their own thoughts by reading original docusments, rather than only discuss other people’s thoughts. (This is particularly helpful with MLA and Chicago-style papers that are thesis based papers.)

Discuss plagiarism.

  • Help teens understand: How long a quote can you use and how do you cite it? (Follow the guidelines for each paper style: MLA, APA, Chicago Style.) Teens in college can lose scholarships and fail classes if they plagiarize. Here is a post to help explain plagiarism to your homeschool high schoolers.
  • Discuss paraphrasing and citing the paraphrase. (Developing this skills is one reason Kat loves Charlotte Mason’s traditional paraphrasing of books!)

Teach note-taking skills:

  • Remind teens to research before they start the paper or even write a thesis. They need lots of information before they start writing their papers.
  • Use index cards for note taking. Put quotes, statistics and other important information. Put citation information. Number the cards. Using card helps prevent accidental plagiarism.
  • Mind map or spread out the cards on a table to help teens organize their thoughts.

Teach time management skills:

Work with teens with solid dates on when they start researching, finish their cards, complete the first rough draft, final draft, etc. 7Sisters freebie Scheduling Backwards can help with this. All of 7Sisters’ Research Paper Writing Guides are chunked out into day-by-day assignments to help homeschool high schoolers stay on track.

Kat suggests this order for writing research papers.

  • Research
  • Write the first draft of the paper
  • Read the paper and find the gaps in the information presented
  • Research to fill in gaps
  • Rewrite
  • Check citations
  • Edit for grammar, punctuation, etc
  • Complete a final draft

Kat also includes these 2 fascinating requirements that truly help her homeschool high school students succeed as writers:

  • Students keep a journal where they daily record what they have done on their research paper.
  • At the end of the paper, she has her students write a *review* of the paper-writing process. It is a self-reflection about what they have learned about the process and the topic.

There are many styles of research papers, however, these are the most commonly used papers for high schoolers:

Check out Kat’s online courses such as her research paper course!

 Also visit her at:

Keep an eye out for Dr. Kat Patrick’s upcoming text on Chicago-style research papers. Also, download Kat’s FREEBIE: Shakespeare Copywork.

Join Vicki and Kat for this fun discussion on research papers, your teens will benefit from the tips you learn!

You’ll also enjoy these posts and this HSHSP episode with more information on research papers.

Suggested Syllabus for 7Sisters MLA Research Paper Writing Course

What are Chicago-Style Research Papers and Why Should Your Teen Write One?

High School Research Paper: MLA? APA? Other?

HSHSP Ep 144: Writing Research Papers, Interview with Kat Patrick