First, he wanted to understand paragraphing in an essay. I drew something like this:
I love it when a light seems to go off in a child's brain! Imagine, 15 years old, bright, top-set sort of student, and yet no one had ever bothered to really explain paragraphing to him.
His next concern was about knowing how to structure an essay -- that is, how many pieces of fruit should he have in his fruit bowl. This is when I changed analogies (it was the next session, mind).
The scenario I gave him was an exam situation. A question comes up and you're not sure how to answer it. Picture a curtain on a rail in front of a window, and then think: use the first hook as the introduction, the next four or five hooks as separate topics, then a final hook as your conclusion.
Here's what I drew as I talked:
|My scanner cut off the final hook, labeled "conclusion"|
The main point, however, was that you don't need to flounder around when you come to write an essay question. Just know that you need an introduction, a handful of solid points that you can back up with evidence (quotes, examples, etc.), and a conclusion.
My drawings and diagrams paid off. The student wrote me a sample letter, and there was that gorgeous 5-paragraph essay that he'd never learn to write before. I realise it's just the beginning, but at least he's made big, noticeable strides in just a couple of hours.
So, what did I gain from this experience that I can translate to my homeschool? That my son, who is often asking for a schedule so he knows what to do, just wants a visual representation of what's expected of him. He can't remember all the verbal instructions I gibber out all day long.
He simply wants to see so he can know. Is that too much to ask?