Writing is one of the most difficult subjects to teach in homeschooling. Many parents recognize good writing but don’t know how to teach it.
There are many online courses your child can take to learn to write but even with excellent instruction, they’ll still make mistakes.
Your kids may be perfect but their writing can use some improvement. These five online grammar tools will have your child turning in flawless writing assignments.
1. Language Tool
Of all the tools on my list, this one intrigues me the most. Language Tool checks grammar in English and 25 other languages (including Esperanto). Language Tool includes add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, Libre Office, Google Docs, and MS Office.
Many of the features and add-ons are available for free. The premium features are well worth the price if you’re a professional writer.
The only disadvantage of using the free version of Language Tool is the 20,000-character limit per check.
Cost: Free/$19 per month or $59 per year.
Up next is Ginger. Ginger is easy to install and use. It boasts many features beyond basic spelling and grammar checking.
With Ginger’s premium features you can have your text read back to you, look for ways to rephrase a sentence, and translate your writing into 50 other languages.
Ginger is free to use with your browser but the more advanced features are only available through a premium subscription.
Cost: Free/$15 per month or $150 annually.
Out of all these tools, PaperRater is the only one that lacks a browser add-on. All the analysis happens on the website but it’s well worth the few extra steps to copy and paste.
The free version is supported by ads and includes a plagiarism checker.
With the premium version of PaperRater you can check larger documents, upload various file formats (.doc, .docx, .txt, .odt, or .rtf) and your documents will process faster.
Cost: Free/$14.95 a month or $95.40 annually.
I recently discovered Hemingway. Not the writer, the online grammar tool. Hemmingway is just as quirky as the author it’s named after. It’s also the most affordable.
The web-based version is 100% free. There are no ads on the site and it color codes recommendations. It’s more than a spelling and grammar checker.
Hemingway aims to improve your writing by making it more concise and organized.
With Hemingway, you can write and edit on the web page or in the desktop software and get immediate feedback. I used it to tighten up some of the writing in this article.
Cost: Free/$19.95 for life.
Finally, there’s Grammarly. I use it daily when writing blog posts or making sure I don’t misspell a word when updating my social media accounts.
For my purposes, it’s the best tool for bloggers and social media managers. “My kids are writing essays, John. How will it help them,” you ask?
The free browser extension works with many online apps and websites and will meet most of your online writing needs. Premium features include:
- Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
- Genre-specific writing style checks
- Advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure
- Plagiarism detector that checks more than 16 billion web pages
Cost: Free/$29.95 a month or $139.95 annually.
Homeschoolers have access to great writing courses both online and in textbooks. Many homeschoolers I know write well and could do it professionally.
Even seasoned professionals use tools to make their writing flawless. These tools will help your child write the best essay about nurse sharks you’ve ever read.
You may be wondering if you should use the free versions of all these services or pay for the premium features. For most homeschoolers the free version is adequate.
Many of these tools will catch more grammar mistakes than MS Word’s built-in grammar checker. Most importantly, all these tools are automated.
A human set of eyes will catch more errors and notice exceptions to a rule that an automated service cannot.
When should you pay for a premium service? If your child is writing essays for scholarships a subscription might be worth the cost.
Do you use any of these tools in your homeschool? What others would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!