Has your child ever had to write a biography report, kicking and screaming the whole way?
There comes a point in your child’s writing journey when he must move away from writing about what interests him and move into different genres that might not be as much fun. It’s always easier to write about what we know, like and have experienced. There then comes a point when they need to be able to expound upon what was learned, even if it isn’t anything they particularly care about. How do we go about teaching them this skill without hindering their creativity? How do we encourage our struggling writers to present us with a two page, well written paper on Benjamin Franklin rather than a paragraph of sentences simply thrown together to get the assignment done?
First of all, determine not to give up on your struggling writer! In a digital age where our children are exposed to media much younger and in more avenues than ever before, we cannot forget the power of the written word. We need to help our children master writing so they do not simply survive, but thrive in their lives ahead!
Secondly, ease them into it. You generally don’t begin teaching your child multiplication and division in preschool. You gently introduce them to numbers. You teach them the concept of counting and then ease into addition and subtraction. Once they have these facts down, they are now able to learn the concepts of multiplication and division. It is the same way with writing. You can’t sit your child down with a blank piece of paper and tell them to write a paper about the Declaration of Independence if they haven’t been taught basic writing skills to begin with. Give them short assignments once or twice a week. Only require a few sentences and use this time teach them how to perfect their sentences with important facts and details.
Thirdly, praise their effort and don’t be too picky about spelling or grammar at first. If your child struggles with writing then it is possible they are a perfectionist. They might be afraid they are going to spell something or present something wrong. Don’t be too quick to mark up and edit when your child is first learning. Praise and encourage them often. Spelling will come with time, the important part is that they gain confidence in their writing.
Finally, make sure they are literally writing. I’m talking about pencil and paper here. If you use your writing lessons as an opportunity for them to gain keyboarding skills on a computer, have them write their work out on paper first. This skill cannot be lost. It doesn’t have to be cursive but the simple skill of physically writing is just as important as the mental creative process.