Overview: Writing is one of those subjects that can be DREADFUL if you aren’t sure how to teach it. And being a writer can make it worse because it’s hard to relate to their reluctance. If you have a reluctant writer, here are some tips to ease the pain!
Homeschooling is a wonderful educational model which allows us to meet our kids where they are at, to give them an individualized education, and to make learning more fun. It’s a proven model, and the success rates of homeschoolers are high. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, the average homeschooled student scores 15-42 points higher on standardized tests, scores above the national average on the SAT and ACT, and is being actively recruited by colleges.
But what about when you have a child who is struggling in an area rather than excelling? What’s a homeschool mom to do when her son is a reluctant writer?
Writing has long been a subject that my boys have struggled to master which is ironic when you think about the fact that I am a writer!
When they were younger, they didn’t even want to hold a pencil in their hand. Hands-on, active lessons have always been way more popular in our homeschool than written ones. And when my boys were younger, that really wasn’t a problem. Boys learn better when they’re allowed to be more active, anyway.
But at some point, it’s important for our sons to be able to:
- Communicate in the written language
- Pick up a pencil and jot down their thoughts
- Write book reports and essays
- Write letters to grandma
- Write love letters to their spouse someday, etc.
My boys have often rebelled when I asked them to write even a short paragraph, let alone a paper. They weren’t shy about communicating verbally. And they were fine with my using the Charlotte Mason narration method to write down their thoughts. But when I would ask them to write down what they were thinking, our lessons would often dissolve into angry words or a fountain of tears – from them AND from me!
I knew this situation wasn’t good. I knew my boys would need to have at least some level of writing skills in order to be successful in life. So, once they were a little bit older yet still struggling in this area, I knew I needed to try to get them past their aversion to writing.
We’ve tried many different writing programs in the past with varying levels of success. But nothing really stuck. Nothing seemed to help them break through their writing block barrier and make writing less of an aversion for them.
Fortunately, the most recent writing program we’ve tried has really helped them to break through their writing block. We’ve been using it since this fall and I’ve seen great strides in my sons’ writing. In fact, one of my sons started a blog a few months ago and has committed to writing a new blog post every week. I haven’t had to nag him about doing this writing, either. This is his project. He has been very self-motivated.
So, how in the world has my son moved from a reluctant writer to an eager writer? It has been a slow process; however, there are 4 things I’ve learned which have been key for helping my son overcome his distaste for writing.
4 Tips to Help Your Reluctant Writer:
1 – Don’t Push Too Hard
Seriously, I started worrying about writing when my boys were really young. I shouldn’t have pushed it so hard in the beginning. I’ve since learned that whenever your kids hit a wall, it’s best to back off a little bit and give them some space. Don’t insist on breaking through that barrier by the end of the year. Some kids take longer to mature than others and not all kids are ready to tackle the same material at the same age. It’s more important that you keep the experience positive and help your child to maintain his confidence than that you push him and cause him to feel burned out or to think that he’s a failure.
2 – Find the Right Program
I am being compensated for my time, but I purchased this product myself and I chose to write about this product because it has had a positive impact on my own sons.
This tip is important. All of our kids learn differently. We need to try different resources until we find the materials that are going to work with our unique children. Like I mentioned above, the program which has been the most beneficial for my reluctant writers has been WriteShop I/II. I think the most beneficial aspect of these materials is that they take all of the guesswork out of writing.
Each lesson has a very specific focus such as teaching about paired adjectives, present participles, conducting an interview, etc. WriteShop I/II starts each lesson with pre-writing activities that we’re able to do together.
Here is the process:
- I get out our large whiteboard
- We brainstorm as a group
- We practice writing a paragraph together
- My boys shout out suggestions while I write them out on the whiteboard.
These sessions usually end up being fairly silly and lighthearted which is a good thing. We want to convey that writing is fun, after all.
After that, my boys feel more confident completing the independent parts of the lesson and writing their own paragraphs. They have also learned how to confidently edit their own work by using the checklists which are included as part of the lessons. The step-by-step process has been extremely beneficial for helping to build my sons’ writing confidence.
3 – Allow Them to Write About Their Interests
If I were trying to force my son to blog about classic literature, I can guarantee it wouldn’t happen. I’ve tried to encourage my son to blog in the past. But until he came up with the idea “on his own” and also chose the subject matter, it didn’t happen. There’s something almost magical about allowing our kids to pursue their interests. Suddenly, they’re using their free time, they’re writing during their lunch break, and they’re coming up with blog post ideas on the weekend. I can’t emphasize this point strongly enough!
4 – Stay Positive
When our children struggle to learn something, it’s easy to get frustrated by their seeming lack of progress or to feel as though we have somehow failed as a parent. Try to stay positive. If you refuse to give up on your kids they will probably surprise you… when they’re ready. Remember that sometimes it takes a while to click. But once they’ve matured enough, all of the seeds you’ve been planting will suddenly blossom.
This principle is true for any subject in which our child struggles. When we’re willing to be patient, to find the right program, to have some say in the way it is carried out, and to be positive, our child’s chances of being successful are much greater.
If your child is a reluctant writer, I highly recommend you check out WriteShop I/II. Not only have they helped my sons to take a giant leap forward in their writing, but they have actually made writing become one of our favorite homeschool subjects rather than one that we dread.
Do you have any reluctant writers at your house? What tips have you learned along the way which have helped your kids to become more willing to write? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.