How to Teach Expository Writing


Are you wondering how to teach expository writing? Teaching writing tends to be one of the more popular subjects that homeschoolers outsource to other teachers. Sometimes, it is hard to coax words out of your students and other times it is difficult for students to heed their parents' advice about how to improve. However, it is easier than you think to teach expository writing.

What Is Expository Writing?

Expository writing is writing that is intended to inform, explain, or describe. Once your child learns how to write paragraphs well, it is the first type of writing you should teach. Basic book reports, reports on various figures or events and any other types of non-fiction writing all fall under this genre.

Narration as the Beginning of Expository Writing

If you practice narrating in your homeschool, your child is already practicing expository writing in its earliest forms. Most advocates of narration expect that children will start by reciting, move onto narrating with sentences and from there progress naturally into the essay. By encouraging your child to retell you what he has gleaned from his studies, you will pave the way towards writing coherent and well-organized essays.

How to Teach Expository Writing

There is no one single way that is the answer on how to teach expository writing. However, one way in which you can ensure success is to make sure the child is developmentally ready before launching on an expository essay.


While writing a summary and writing an expository essay is not the same thing, a summary is definitely a pre-cursor to expository writing. Make sure your child can write summaries that:

  • Retell significant details
  • Are organized with a topic sentence and supporting details
  • Ignore insignificant details

Finding the Main Idea

Sometimes, it is hard for children to find the main idea of a passage. If your child is particularly detail-oriented, he may be able to recall vast amounts of details but be unable to recall or answer questions about a character's intent, the main event of a period of history, or why someone is notable. When a child cannot find the main idea of something he is reading, he often is unable to communicate a main idea in his writing. Consequently, practice helping your child find the main idea before you start with expository essay writing.

The Writing Process

For every essay your child writes, have him follow a defined writing process of pre-writing or outlining, writing a rough draft, editing and then producing a final draft. Use this process to teach the finer points of expository writing


Begin by having your child work on some type of visual organizer for his thoughts. A younger child will do better with a bubble map that lists the main idea in the center and smaller points off to the sides. However, an older student can easily create an outline for his ideas. Each outline heading should be the topic of one paragraph and then subheadings should be his supporting points.

Rough Draft and Editing

Have your child write a rough draft of his expository essay. Encourage your child to just write and then during the editing process, help your child look for these common mistakes:

  • Does the essay have one overall topic?
  • Is there a topic sentence?
  • Is there good supporting points?
  • Are there an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph that introduce and summarize the main points of the essay?
  • Did the student use his sources but not copy them?

Of course, you will also help your child edit for spelling and grammatical errors. However, if your child does not understand the basic idea of what an expository essay should be, then he may need to write several drafts before he is ready for a final draft.

The Final Expository Essay

A good expository essay should:

  • Be informative and explain a topic in detail as is age-appropriate
  • Use varied sentences and clear language
  • Have a focused topic that is not too broad
  • Have a topic sentence

Keep in mind that it is okay to give multiple expository writing assignments. Your child will likely need practice with different types of expository writing assignments such as book reports, history reports, or even essays on current events that explain what is going on.

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