If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never write at all. ~ Anne Tylor
I hear people say this frequently, “My child doesn’t like to write. How do I get them to write.” Well, the truth is that children love to write. What they hate is red ink all over their paper and no freedom in writing. Avoid making the mistakes below, and you will have some happy writers. (How do I know? I’ve helped hundreds of kids enjoy journal writing and self-publishing spiral bound books. This ignites the flame to write more.)
1. Over correct
This is a hard one. We all want our children to have perfect papers and master all the writing skills at once. However, it is best to select 1 or 2 items to correct. Role model how to correct those items. When the skills are mastered, you move onto 2 more skills to correct. In time, they will master all the skills. Telling someone everything that is wrong with their writing is a way to ensure they will not be motivated to do it again.
I made the mistake of doing this with my high school son, who I thought could handle it, because he was in high school. I never dreamed of over correcting him when he was little with emerging skills; thus, I thought he could handle it as a high school student, because he was older. I was wrong. I helped him with an essay he wrote for a scholarship application. After I finished working with him, unfortunately, he gave up. My over correcting made him feel like he couldn’t achieve the perfect “knock your socks off” paper in the time he had to turn it in. Instead of just doing it and possibly winning, he did nothing. Boy, once again, I had to learn the hard lesson of over correcting. So, be sure to select only 1 or 2 items to work on and praise the rest that merits praise. Success breeds success.
2. Too Technical
Teach some grammar, but if you get too technical, it kills their natural writer’s voice and their motivation to write. They will be so focused on what is proper that they will not get their thoughts on the paper.
3. Always give the topic or story starter
Let your child write about what interests them or a recent experience. Most writers write about experiences in their life, or what they are passionate about. This is easy to do, because they have the knowledge. Let your child use different formats: comics, journals, notes, lists, recipes, poems, songs, stories, biographies, novels,etc. (Click here to see a great way to tie literature to writing in a way kids enjoy)
4. Demand they only use a pencil
There are so many options available for getting thoughts out of your head onto paper. The following tools are great: tablet, laptop, pen (it glides across the paper easier than a pencil. You can use erasable ink or allow them to use any ink color. Using a pen encourages just writing thoughts down and not worrying about erasing mistakes. I teach that writing is a process; editing is part of the process done later. For now, just get the thoughts on the paper.)
5. Only assign writing occasionally and without any guidance
Anyone can give a writing assignment, but what children really need is consistent opportunities to write and guided instruction. They need to be taught how to write and given clear expectations. In addition, be sure to program writing time into your daily routine. Consistency is the key to learning to do a new skill well. Even if you only allow for 15 minutes of journal writing, it is better than no writing at all. Writing is an art which is mastered with lots and lots of practice. Anyone can learn to write contrary to what our children plea. Words are the building blocks to sentences which build paragraphs which build essays. Start by role modeling and teaching good word choices. ( For example: Golden lab vs dog, meandered vs walked, etc.) Then, move onto role modeling writing good sentences, paragraphs, essays. Be sure they are reading good essays as good models too. It is easier to write well when you have read good materials. The words just ooze out of you. 🙂
Please share this article with others that you think would benefit from these tips. Also, please ask any questions that you may have about teaching children reading or writing.
To learn more about Literate For Life, see the welcome post.
Thank you for a very useful post. I think it is also important that a parent role models writing, if a child never sees a parent write they won’t see any reason for them to write. I write mostly on my laptop but make sure that my daughter also sees me writing manually. We have a collection of different pens and paper so she can choose whichever materials she would like to write with on a particular day.
Hopping over from the #kidlitbloghop
Catherine, Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I was thrilled to find the kid lit blog hop. 🙂 It sounds like your are doing great things to motivate your daughter to write. 🙂 Keep up the great job.
This is a wonderful post. My daughter loves to write and I have always been careful about correcting her. I love to read her creativity and never want her to stop using her imagination to create stories. So glad you shared this on the hop.
Hi Stacie. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your daughter is a rare jewel to treasure. Truly, most kids hate to write because they haven’t been shown how easy and fun it can be. Keep the creative juices flowing in your daughter. Maybe she’ll publish a book. 🙂 I’m glad I found the #kidlit hop. Hope to connect in the future. Have a wonderful day! 🙂
Great post! We are working on our little ones to write more. Some of your suggestions are worth noting.
Also wanted to say thank you for joining in the hobnob which I am cohosting. So glad you could join us.
-Priyam @ http;//priyam-simplejoys.blogspot.com
Priyam at Simple Joys, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m thrilled that this post would help someone. I’m glad I found the hobnob. 🙂
I don’t know…I modeled writing, showed my kids how it could be fun…and now my oldest son is writing novels and would really like to be a writer. Worked too well? 😀 (Good thing he’s also realistic. He sees just how much I make–or don’t make–from writing!).
Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian (hopped over from the KLBH!)
Rebecca, What an awesome testimony. Thanks for sharing. I guess what writers lack in pay, they have in passion. 🙂 It is so cool that your son is writing novels. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m thrilled we connected through the KLBH. 🙂
Are there any writing curricula you recommend? I’m beginning to find ours a bit formulaic…
Thanks for asking. What age? (That will make a difference on my recommendation.) You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the age. I will happily respond. 🙂
For now, here is a recommendation for pre-teens and teens. http://literateforlife.org/what-can-writeathome-do-for-you/
Have a wonderful day.
Together, we make a positive difference ~ one word at a time. 🙂
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