Helping your child develop a love of writing

Helping your child develop a love of writing

Teaching your child how to write intimidates many parents. Sadly, it’s often a lesson pushed aside for other more concrete subjects. After 30 years of published writing, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing. I also homeschooled for 10 years and picked up some effective teaching methods.

Don’t make it bigger than it is

“Grass is green.” This is a sentence. It has a verb and a noun. No, it’s not flashy or exciting, but it’s still writing.

Writing doesn’t haven’t to be scary or complicated. In fact, writing can be the easiest of the subjects to teach. Be Alright has some suggestions for building writing skills, whether you homeschool or just want to give your kids another creative outlet. We have tips for inspiring even those students with a deep aversion to writing and for those with learning challenges around spelling and sentence structure.

Keep it simple: Start with a journal

No matter the student, make this the mantra for a writing lesson, “Keep it simple.” Writing is simply a matter of communicating with the written word. That’s it.

Look out your window right now and describe one thing you see and hear. For example, I see a leafy green tree. I hear a neighbor’s air conditioner.

It’s not much, but it’s writing. It’s an observation I recorded.

A great writing curriculum or supplement for any student includes time daily, even 5 to 15 minutes, of journaling. Make the journal their own by allowing them to choose it, along with a special pen or pencil. Adding stickers or designs to the journal gives it even more meaning.

If you’re homeschooling, make this journaling practice a part of each school day. If you want your kids to build confidence around writing at school, have them spend 30 minutes each weekend writing in their journals describing the events of the week.

Don’t judge. Don’t correct spelling. Hand’s off the journal. Let them create whatever they feel driven to create. You may find a page full of doodles at first. That’s okay. For kids without any special learning needs, ask them to write at least 10 words on each page.

Some kids may need a prompt:

“Yesterday, I hated…”

“I’m excited about…”

“Outside, I see…”

“I’m proud of myself because…”

“I’m angry with myself because…”

“My parents’ dumbest rule is…”

Start there, especially the last one. No kid passes up the opportunity to critique their parents.

Special needs

Kids with dyslexia and other challenges around spelling and writing may fight you when it comes to writing. And, you may find it’s better for someone else to lead these writing lessons.

If the challenges aren’t disabling, then I usually ask students to write without worrying about spelling. “Hey! We can always fix the spelling. Just get those important ideas down on paper to remember.”

However, this may not work with kids who have profound issues around spelling and have confidence issues on top of it.

In this case, don’t force it. Use all the technology we have available these days to get them expressing themselves with the written word including Talk-to-Text and Voice Memo.

Case in point: I have a student with some terrible experiences with writing. This student has great ideas, but chokes whenever I ask her to write.

So, say we’ve read a book or article and the assignment asks for a summary. Instead of having this student write it out, I ask the student to TELL me the important points verbally.

I type as she talks. In this way, I can show her how she IS a writer, even when she isn’t writing. Most kids, even those with challenges, love to share about a book they love.

For these kids, it’s important to find material that’s a source of passion. It maybe a silly TV show or video game, and that’s okay.

Focus on the goal: Get them to formulate sentences, either verbally or in writing, which convey an idea clearly. That’s it.

Write with them

Writing is a great, “Do as I do, not as I say” exercise. I find many, many adults have their own phobias around writing and, without knowing it, pass these along to their kids.

Having a journal is equally rewarding if you are 12 or 50. Join in. Let them see you write and enjoy the quiet, meditative, calm process. Or, maybe, you like to play loud heavy metal music and bang out sentences like a maniac.

In either case, discover the joy of writing with your kids. In this way, you give them an edge on a world which heavily relies on the written word.

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