Practically Painless Tips to Encourage Your Child’s Writing
- Amelia Harper The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
- 2012 12 Dec
How do I encourage my child to write?
Encourage your child to share his ideas. Writing is really about communication. Convince your child that the world needs to hear his particular take on a subject. Some people are reluctant to write because they don’t feel they have anything worthwhile to say. Your child does.
Use oral communication to encourage written communication. If your child claims that she can’t think of anything to write about a subject, encourage her just to talk about it. You could even use a tape recorder. Then encourage her to just write down those ideas in a more organized fashion. Some kids feel that talking is easy and writing is hard. Removing that disconnect can encourage cross communication.
Make writing as physically easy as possible. If your kids are like mine, the main thing they hated about writing was—well—the writing part. Most of them struggled with neat handwriting and saw this as another handwriting exercise. However, letting them use the computer for writing assignments made it more fun and elevated the assignment to a cool new level.
Allow your child to help choose writing assignments. We all write best about things we know, enjoy, or want to explore. Allowing the student to choose from among three or more topics or approaches helps him feel like he is more in control of the assignment, and he is much more likely to want to write.
Introduce generous amounts of poetry. Reading poetry aloud as a family is a great way to subconsciously encourage a better writing style. The goal of poetry is to present ideas in a concise and interesting way—and this should be one of the goals of prose writing as well. Reading poetry aloud helps your child develop a natural feel for the rhythm of language and an appreciation for a clever turn of phrase. These stylistic elements will likely painlessly begin to color her own writing.
Praise the praiseworthy and keep criticism to a minimum. We all want our kids to love writing. However, the quickest way to kill that desire is to be overly critical. Remember that people are usually more sensitive about writing than almost anything else, because writing is a natural extension of our thoughts and emotions. Okay, so the paper is chock full of grammar and spelling errors. Was the content good? Did the student use good vocabulary or express his ideas well? Make sure you praise those elements and then say, “However, we need to make these great ideas better by improving the grammar and spelling.” Post best efforts on the refrigerator, brag about them to friends and loved ones, or post them on a blog (with the child’s permission). The child is more likely to work hard to garner that praise the next time.
Make writing a habit. Your child learns to play the piano by practicing every day and making lots of mistakes. Most of us don’t stand at the door and harp on every musical mistake: We know that practice will naturally make the performance better. The same is true for writing. Encourage your child to write a little every day by keeping a journal or just producing a paragraph a day on a topic of his choice—and don’t feel compelled to grade them all. Encouraging your child’s writing habit could be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child—and the world.
Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Winter 2010-11. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and a pastor’s wife. She is also the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary-level students. In addition, she is an English tutor and a freelance writer who contributes regularly to newspapers and magazines. For more information, go to HomeScholarBooks.com.
Publication date: December 10, 2012