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8 Tips for Reluctant Writers

By Donna Schaffrick (teacher, phonics expert and home-schooling mum)

How many of you have heard your child groan when they are asked to write!

I bet a high number of you can relate to this. Your child can read beautifully, but when it comes to writing, they are very reluctant. They drag out the assignment and procrastinate leading to frustration for both the parents and child, sometimes causing disagreements. Read on to find out how you can help your child overcome their reluctance to write so they can become a budding Dickens, Bronte or Shakespeare.

Firstly, let’s consider why they might not want to write?

One thing I hear all the time when children are asked to write, is the panic over producing perfect spellings and grammar throughout the piece of writing - whether it is a story, a recount or a non-fiction task. This is a real struggle for lots of children.

Also, some children feel pressure to produce the ‘perfect piece.’ This idea of the ‘perfect piece’ is different for each child, but may encompass the perfect story, the perfect

structure, perfect punctuation and different conjunctions - the list is endless! It’s so sad that children feel this terrible pressure and would then prefer not to write at all.

A huge number of children hate their handwriting and find the mechanics of writing difficult. They are tired from a long day at school and the idea of physically writing is distressing.

Finally, sometimes they are stuck on what to write. The writing activity is so broad it makes it difficult for the child to know what to write about and where to start.

Taking all the above points into consideration, here are my top tips for reluctant writers:

1. Firstly, I create a warm inviting environment that is special just for writing. I light a candle, turn the lights down a little and make sure I have soothing, relaxing music playing at a low level in the background. This helps the student get into the right frame of mind. They also find this special, so it elevates the status of the activity. The ‘specialness’ of the surroundings helps those children who find the mechanics of writing tricky.

2. My second tip is for those students that don’t know what to write. Why not sit with them and brainstorm ideas together? You could write the brainstorming ideas for them (remember, we want to save their writing time for the actual task rather than introductory ideas). Sharing this essential step with your child is much more fun and stimulates their creativity.

3. Another tip for those not sure what to write; you could model your own writing on the task at hand and share it with them. It encourages them to see you writing and may spark ideas for them so that they are inspired to create. With my daughter, I sit beside her and write my response to the task as she writes hers. Then, we read each others' pieces and give positive feedback on what we have heard. This is supportive on so many levels.

4. It is important to provide stimulating and interesting resources to assist your child to be inspired and creative with their writing task. The internet has so many wonderful pictures and resources that you could use to kick start a writing task. If the activity has been set by

school and your child is coming up empty in the ideas department, why not support them by finding pictures online based upon the focused topic.

5. For those students that are concerned about spelling and grammar there are a couple of things you could do. Firstly, explain that you are looking for content and not mechanics. Free them from the constraints of having to think about spellings so that they can create and use more complex words. There is nothing more disheartening than receiving your hard-earned crafted piece of writing back covered with red marks. Secondly, if spelling is important to the

piece, then sit with them at the beginning of the task and together think about words they are likely to use and provide a spelling sheet for them. This takes away from the pressure of having to focus on spellings.

6. Another tip for those that find handwriting a chore; why not let them write on a keyboard and then it can be printed out. It alleviates the worry and anxiety of creating a beautifully neat piece of handwriting.

7. For those students who are concerned about writing the perfect piece, firstly discuss what the perfect piece means to them and see if you can support them with their concerns. For example, if they are not sure how to structure their writing then model how to structure the story or if they think using lots of big words is important then brainstorm some ideas together and write them down before they start.

8. Finally, and this one is super important, once your child has written their assignment, let them read it to you and then give lots of positive feedback so that they develop self confidence which will motivate them to write in the future.

I hope these tips are helpful and useful to inspire your child to become a writer. Remember, that for them to truly grasp the mechanics of writing, it is important to read lots of books together so that they are exposed to various writing styles, language and ideas.

A true writer is one that is an avid reader!



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