It is always difficult when a child struggles. It is especially difficult when that struggle is in something as important as literacy. According to the International Literacy Association there are many negative effects of poor literacy skills:
Unfortunately the only way to get better at writing is to write. So what can you do to help your reluctant writer? Here are some strategies you can use with your child to help them become a better writer.
Tip #1: Give them Meaningful Subject Matter
Your child will only write if they are interested in the topic so if there is a choice help your child find something they are interested in writing about. Try different:
- Genres: descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, technical and poetic…
- Formats: Comic, journal, poetry, newspaper article, magazine article, short stories, report, essay…
- Try some of these great resources:
- Scholastic Story Starters Creative writing prompt generator for children in grades K-6. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/
- 826 Digital is an online platform that hosts a collection of engaging, adaptable, standards-based resources designed to captivate young writers and empower their educators. https://www.826chi.org/programs#826-digital or https://826digital.com/
- writing prompts blog: https://writingprompts.tumblr.com/
- Google: writing prompts and your child’s grade or age
Tip #2: Focus on the Ideas
Children might be reluctant to write because they don’t want to make mistakes or they get stuck on spelling or grammar. Emphasize that mistakes are OK, that it’s what they write and not how they write that is important at the beginning of in the first stages of writing. Emphasize the stages of writing: brainstorming, outline, rough copy, edits and good copy. It’s not until the editing and good copy that you need to worry about grammar and spelling.
Tip #3: Just Get it on Paper
Some children have a hard time getting their ideas on paper. The brainstorming stage of the writing process is an ideal time to help your child figure out how they think best. Encourage them to learn how they generate ideas best. Some kids need to: talk through their ideas, draw out their ideas, create a mind map, list their ideas, think about them while being active, do a brain dump (write down as much as you can in the allotted time), think in quite or with noise, or dictate ideas (to you or the computer). Once they know what works best for them they will have an easier time brainstorming in the future.
Tip #4: Talk It Out
If your child is still struggling to start writing or come up with ideas, kick start their thinking by asking open ended thinking questions based on the topic. For example if they have to write about a character from their book ask: why they think a character acted the way they did, how it affected the story or problem, how the reader felt about the situation, what it reminded them of and why..
Tip #5: Help Them Become a Better Writer
Helping your child learn about how language works will help your child become a better writer. The best way to become a better writer is to read. Read, read and read some more. Play with words:
- Make it a game not a chore: https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/seven-ways-to-encourage-kids-writing/
- “Board games”: bannanagrams, scrable, biggle, madlibs https://www.parentmap.com/article/super-fun-board-games-to-rock-game-night
- Learn and make up jokes: “Why did the teddy bear say no to dessert? Because she was stuffed” puns: https://redtri.com/best-jokes-for-kids/,
- Create alliterations: “The alligator always asks silly questions” https://examples.yourdictionary.com/alliteration-examples-for-kids.html,
- Play homonyms games online https://www.turtlediary.com/games/homonyms-homophones.html#:~:text=Turtle%20Diary’s%20homonym%20games%20provide,same%20but%20differ%20in%20meaning.