6 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Writer
Do you have a reluctant writer in your homeschool? If so, we have good news. No child is born a good or bad writer. Yes, every child has strengths and interests, and one child may be more eager to write than another. But writing well is a skill that can be learned, and writing regularly is a habit that can be cultivated.
If you have a child who has a hard time putting pen to paper, here are 6 tactics to help you encourage and inspire the writing habit.
1. Provide a quiet space
If your homeschool is like most, it is probably full of hustle, bustle, noise, and mess. That chaos can be a beautiful thing, but it can also discourage writing. Writers need to focus. To be productive, writers should have some uninterrupted time. So, if your child has writing assignment to tackle, try to minimize distractions. For example, you can settle your young writer in the den, while the rest of your family works around the kitchen table.
2. Provide an inviting space
Your writing space matters. Start by asking your child where he or she would feel comfortable writing. Don’t assume it’s in the usual homeschool workspace. Maybe it is in a sunny spot on your porch or out in your garden. Maybe it is in a cozy leather arm chair. Maybe it is on a desk with a warm light and a pile of old books. Or try to create a new writing space from things you already have around the house. Do you have a teen? Drop him or her off at the coffee shop or library. Sometimes a change of scenery can start the creative juices flowing.
3. Give them freedom
Children should have the freedom to write about what interests them. Is your child into technology? Give an assignment to compare and contrast computer brands. Does your child love cooking? Give an assignment to research cookery in modern England. Or simply tell them to write about what they want (their favorite dinner, a dream vacation, etc.) and set a word count. Tell them, You can write about anything, but you have to give me 250 words.
4. Provide interesting prompts
If your child does better with structure, try giving some interesting prompts. Since everyone loves a good illustration, give them a picture to go along with the prompt. Show them a landscape painting and tell them to write a description of it. Take a photo from the newspaper, stripped of its caption, and ask them to write about what’s going on in the illustration. Show them a portrait of a famous person and ask them to write about what he or she was thinking during the portrait sitting.
5. Write more
Remember that not every piece of writing has to go through the brainstorming, drafting, and revising stages. That can make writing seem like a long and boring process. Remember that writers get better at writing by writing. Yes, revising is important, but more important, for reluctant and professional writers alike, is simply putting words on a page. Be happy if the child is just writing; don’t expect every piece to be polished to perfection.
6. Share the passion for writing
Help kids understand that writing is not just something they are slogging through for a school assignment. Make them see that writing can bring joy and satisfaction beyond the classroom. It can be a vocation or avocation. Some parents are passionate writers; others are not. If you are a passionate writer, share your blogging, journaling, or other writing with your child. If you are not a passionate writer, surround your reluctant writer with those who are. Invite a local journalist to come to your co-op. Take your child to the local library or bookstore to hear an author speak. Do you have mom blogger friend? Have her share her writing life with your child.
In our soon-to-be-released writing curriculum, Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, we aim to cultivate the writing habit in your child. All of the above tactics are covered in the curriculum. We have inspiring quotes and pro-tips, weekly writing assignments, and creative prompts with word counts. We help students explore their own interests, while they imitate the habits of great writers. We can’t wait to share it with you!
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