Some of our kids are naturally strong writers. Some of them are not. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and I’m a huge advocate of allowing our kids to build on their strengths rather than constantly trying to shore up their weaknesses.
There are some subjects in which all kids must attempt to become proficient; however, and writing is one of them. Fortunately, if one of your children is a reluctant writer, there are some simple exercises which can help them to overcome writer’s block. These exercises can even make writing fun!
I have adapted some of these techniques from the WriteShop I/II Teacher’s Manual, which is an excellent resource if you’re trying to find ways to help your kids learn how to become better writers.
Here are 7 Simple Ways to Help Kids Overcome Writer’s Block:
1 – Free Writing
Sometimes, just the thought of being critiqued can cause our children’s minds to freeze up and make it nearly impossible for them to write. One good way to overcome this is to let our kids do some free writing. Allow them choose their own notebook so that they will take some ownership of the process. Let them choose a time and a place for their writing to occur. Try playing soothing music in the background. Light some candles. Make the process as enjoyable and painless as possible.
If your child wants to keep their writing private, allow them to do so. This technique is all about helping our kids to become more comfortable with the writing process.
2 – Story Builders
Brainstorm with your child to help them choose the following:
- A character
- A character trait
- A setting
- A problem
The WriteShop I/II Teacher’s Manual contains word banks to help your child pick out these items. You can also help lead your child through this activity by writing some options on a whiteboard from which your child can choose.
Start by having your child write one sentence describing each of the items they have chosen, and then have them expand their writing to one paragraph per item.
3 – Choose The Topic
If your child often balks at writing a book report or some other assignment, you will have better luck at allowing them to choose what they would like to write about instead. There are times when our kids are going to have to write about things they don’t enjoy. If your purpose is to help your struggling writer become less reluctant, however, you may want to delay some of these less pleasant projects until they have developed their writing skills a bit further.
4 – Mixed-Up Story
Have your child choose their favorite TV character, then have them write that character into the plot of their favorite book or video game. What would it be like if Spider Man suddenly found himself in a Minecraft mod? Or what if Frodo were transported into a Star Wars movie?
5 – Finish the Story
Give your child an opening line and ask them to finish the story. This is a great way to kill writer’s block. The stranger the sentence, the more ideas it will likely spark in your child.
6 – Verbal Round Robin
This activity is a great one to do with a group. Start by having one person say the first sentence of the story. Then have the second person say the next sentence. Continue in this way until everyone has had a chance to contribute a sentence. Then go back to the person who gave the first sentence. Keep on going in this manner until everyone collapses into a pile of giggles or agrees that the story is done.
7 – Written Round Robin
Once your kids feel comfortable doing the activity verbally, pull out some sheets of paper and do it in writing instead. Have everyone write down one sentence on their paper and then pass their paper to the left. Have the next person add a sentence to the story and then pass the paper. After everyone feels that the stories are complete, have each participant read one of the collaborative stories aloud. This is a super fun activity to have dads participate in as well.
Writing is one of those skills that all of our kids will benefit from no matter what career they end up with as adults. If you are trying to reach your reluctant writer, try some of the above techniques to increase their confidence and decrease their anxiety. The more light-hearted and fun you’re able to keep the activities, the better chance your child will come to love writing – or at least to feel more comfortable doing it.
Do you have a reluctant writer at home? Have you found techniques which have helped your kids to overcome writer’s block and better enjoy the writing process? Please leave a comment below.