4 Writing Formats Your Homeschooling Teen Needs to Master

March 04, 2021


While in high school, your student should be writing. And writing. And writing. Writing assignments will develop skills and keep them sharp, making it easier for your teen to do coursework in college.

It's tough to get them to write, isn't it?  It is something my teen always procrastinates and hopes that I forget. If given a choice, he would much rather write for pleasure. I certainly understand that because I was the same way in high school. 

I have learned to help my teen become more writing-ready without adding extra work or courses. Instead of new projects, I stagger writing assignments alongside topics he is currently studying. Instead of a traditional exam at the end of the semester, I will assign a research paper instead. English credit can still be given on a high school transcript without creating an entirely different class.   

Ensure your high school homeschooler has good experience with the 4 writing formats: traditional report writing, essays, research papers, and creative writing.


These are straightforward and typically short, averaging about 600-800 words - the average length of a blog post. I like to think of reports as continual practice in reading comprehension. 

The 2 most common reports are:

(1) book report that gives a personal opinion or review on a book that was read
(2) paper that presents conclusions from specific reading material, such as a speech or article. 


Essays are longer than reports and can be anywhere from 300 to 1000 words. (Scribblr) These papers must have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

The 4 common types of essays: 

(1)  Narrative – tells a story about a real-life experience
(2)  Descriptive – paints a picture with words, communicating a more in-depth meaning
(3)  Expository – presents an informative, balanced analysis of a topic
(4)  Persuasive – convinces the reader to accept the writer's point of view. (Time4Writing)

Reports and essays give your teen practice with grammar and sentence crafting. There are numerous online tools your student can use to assist them with spelling and grammar. Here are the best:

(1) Grammarly.com – Most people now know about Grammarly. They have an online version, but their app can be easily downloaded for Word and works along in the margin. The premium version has many more helpful options and worth the investment while your teen is in college.

(2) Grammar.com – if you want a simple cut and paste option online to check for grammar and spelling errors, this can be the way to go. They offer a free extension that can be added to Chrome. Check out the website for their other offerings, including grammar ebooks.

A great resource to bookmark for grammar and English is Mignon Fogarty's website,  Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips.
 She offers numerous tips, videos, and even a podcast. Now your English grammar lesson plan is complete. You're welcome.

Research Papers

The length of a research paper depends on the topic and what has been assigned. Generally, research papers can be five to ten pages long, not counting the title or bibliography pages. Instructors usually give their parameters on what is expected on a research paper assignment. Most importantly, the topic must be thoroughly researched (always cite a couple more sources than required), and the body of the paper is well-developed and written concisely. (Instructors can always tell when there is "word padding" to make the number of words required!)  

Three main types of research papers are:

(1)  Argumentative – presents two sides of a controversial issue
(2)  Analytical – analyzes different viewpoints from a factual rather than an opinionated standpoint
(3)  Definitive  - describes a topic from a factual standpoint; however, the information is unanalyzed. There is no opinion from the writer.

Unlike the "old days" when we had to find a book with the latest formats to use for research papers, now there are quick and easy ways to get help online. There are many places to find help with the formats that colleges require for research papers. A free resource for help using the APA, MLA, or other formats is the Purdue Owl Writing Lab website which many other colleges also use.  

One of the more challenging parts of a paper is the bibliography. Well, there is an excellent, free resource to make that much easier too – a FREE Citation Machine: Accurate & Easy-to-Use called Cite This For Me.

Creative Writing

is what I call a catch-all category, but it is just as important as the rest. Give carte blanc to your teen to write whatever, whenever. It can be fan fiction, short stories, a chapter of a novel (regardless if it doesn't go any further), skits/scripts, poetry, or journaling. This is where your teen becomes very comfortable with a thesaurus and builds their vocabulary.

How Do I Check for Plagiarism?

While we are sure that our homeschoolers would never cheat, sometimes it can be easy to use too much of a website's content verbatim in their paper. Before they turn in a paper, have them check what they have written using one of these websites.

(1)  Free Plagiarism Checker Online for Students - PapersOwl

(2)  FREE Plagiarism Checker: 100% Correct Result In One Click  - grademiners.com

(3)  Grammarly.com


What has been helpful writing tools have you used while homeschooling your teen?
Tell us in the comments!



Articles referred to for this post:

1.        https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/length/

2.        https://www.time4writing.com/writing-resources/types-of-essays/



  1. I definitely found it difficult to get my son to write during our homeschool experience. I also chose to add it as part of his other subjects, most of the time, the way you did. But because I was using the Waldorf curriculum as a guide, sometimes writing was separate.

  2. Sometimes I wonder how I ever managed to pass high school, I hated to write! But face forward over 50 years and now I love it! You have some great tips and apps!

  3. Highly appreciate your german trending jacket work and research. Thank you


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