Writing is more than putting ideas on paper. There are so many other things that contribute to making strong writers that don’t actually involve writing on paper. Sometimes you have to disguise writing in other forms so they don’t realize writing is involved. Lots of kids who feel incompetent in writing will shut down when faced with an actual assignment. This builds their confidence to work on harder writing skills.
In our house, we can assign finding things in a thesaurus or let the child make his own discoveries. Making their own discoveries helps the child remember the lesson far better. How does a child make this particular discovery? By having a thesaurus available at all times, it helps the child make the connection that it is used for writing help. Let the child see you using the thesaurus to find a word that is eluding you. Make it a game to find words in the thesaurus to use in funny conversations.
After a time, your child will become accustomed to using the thesaurus. They may randomly pick it up to look up a word to surprise you with. They may draw something to add the word on top of . Regardless of what activity your child comes up with, praise his efforts. Much like allowing a child to dictate to you, giving your child unfettered access to a thesaurus takes out the stigma in using it. It becomes a tool to help the child not a torture device used in writing.
One way to getting the child to write without calling it writing is our parent/child journals. Each child has a specific journal that is private to everyone else. Mom and/or Dad leave notes for the child in the journal . The child responds to the note with their own note or comment. No corrections are made to grammar, spelling, or anything. Simply notes back and forth between parent and child. Much like text messaging without the phone. Pre teenage years, this is how Logan asked questions. His phone took over the journal but we still exchange messages throughout the day. As he progressed with writing, I sporadically corrected his spelling. Now we make a joke out of it .
In the long run , when you take the stigma out of writing , you will make it less obtrusive to your child. Your child will feel less pressure which makes them want to try it out more often. Reluctant writers already feel incompetent in this area. Destigmatizing it will only serve to have the child try it more often thus leading to a higher success rate. When looking for a writing curriculum , be sure to find one that incorporates more than just lots of writing. I love Writeshop for that very reason. They understand there is more to writing than essays. I want my children to at least like to write as well as be successful at it. Will they become the next Shakespeare? Probably not. Will they be able to function as adults with their writing? Yep and that’s all I can ask from them.