From Reluctant Writer to Ready Writer

Since Mom laid out her summary writing assignment this morning,  Barb has fed the pets, called her grandmother, grabbed two different snacks from the kitchen, complained that her hand hurts, gotten into an argument with her older brother, and spent fifteen minutes trying to find the “right background music” on her iPhone. Barb is stalling, and it’s clear why. She’s a reluctant writer, as almost all students are at one point or another. The good news is that there are many things parents can do to help children like Barb overcome this common struggle with putting ones thoughts into writing. Below are three tips that can help turn your reluctant homeschool writer into a ready writer, including:

  1. explaining the “why”
  2. incorporating your child’s learning style
  3. breaking down assignments.

Tip #1: Explain the “Why” – – Not Just the “What” and the “How”

No one enjoys paying taxes. As we go through life, though, we begin to understand all that our tax monies accomplish: improving infrastructure, supporting public education, aiding the elderly and disabled, etc. That understanding goes a long way toward making those deductions on our pay stubs more palatable.

It’s no different with writing. Kids and teens need to be able to understand the larger picture. They need to hear that writing a book report improves their ability to think critically. They need to be reminded that forming a proper paragraph means that the reader can better grasp their intention and be affected by what they have to say. They need to consider that writing a persuasive essay is practice for creating a strong argument for anything they feel passionate about in the future. Understanding the “why” behind things we feel reticent about puts new perspective on the task – – even for students.

Tip #2: Incorporate Your Child’s Learning Style

Do you have a non-stop conversationalist at your house? Are art supplies strewn from your kitchen to the garage? Is your living room furniture used more as gym equipment than for entertaining? The answers to these questions provide clues as to what your homeschooler’s learning style may be. Taking your child’s learning style into account when preparing for a writing assignment can make all the difference in how excited and ready they are for the challenge.

Visual learners are engaged by what they see. They may not feel prepared to complete a writing assignment until
they can visualize it in their minds. Graphic organizers can be a huge help with this. For example, if your visual learner is working on a If I Can Think It I Can Write Itcomparison/contrast paper, a Venn Diagram will help your student see the relationship between two or more sets of ideas. Another helpful trick is to have your child or teen draw a simple storyline of all the information they want to share in their paper. This visual reference tool will keep them on track as they write.

Perhaps you have a “Chatty Kathy” at your house? Does your son or daughter start talking before their feet hit the floor in the morning and keep at it until after the lights are out? It’s likely that you are the parent of an auditory learner, and this gift of gab can actually inspire their writing. By bouncing their ideas off other people and receiving feedback on them, your conversational child has already won half the battle of writing preparation. Auditory learners can benefit from talking during the editing and revision process as well.

Hands-on, or kinesthetic, learners may have the most reluctance of all when it comes to writing. After all, it’s hard to get the wiggles out when you are focused on whether your paragraph has enough supporting details. Your mover and shaker may need to do a lot of their prep work standing up. Is there a field trip that you could take together that’s tied to what they are writing about? Can they interview someone with information on the subject? Even dictating their ideas about their paper as they walk through the neighborhood can help them organize their thoughts. It’s also often best for kinesthetic learners to use a keyboard to write rather than pen and paper.

Tip #3: Break Down Assignments into Manageable Chunks

Did you know that half a sheet of lined paper is less daunting than a full one or that typing in a defined box is less overwhelming than facing a blank computer screen? These are the types of tricks that can help a reluctant writer overcome their initial fear of getting started.

Another way to keep your homeschooler from discouragement is to create a timeline for the assignment. If they know that they only need to tackle an introductory paragraph at one sitting, then follow-up paragraphs in successive sessions, they will accept a writing assignment with much more enthusiasm.

This approach is one of the key reasons why students have writing success using Time4Writing. Each writing course focuses on building individual skills in eight-week sessions. Plus, within those sessions, the course is organized into eight weekly units, each with a specific goal. Students gain confidence with their writing as they progress through each lesson, quiz, and writing assignment one-by-one, receiving helpful encouragement and feedback from certified writing teachers all along the way!