Writing is a skill that takes time and perseverance to cultivate. As a classroom teacher, I loved my Writer’s Workshop time. I would model a piece of writing for my students and then give them time to write on their own, in their own private space in the classroom. I would also continue to write until it was time for me to conference with my students. What’s interesting is that after about 20-30 solid minutes of quiet writing time some students would have PAGES of writing for me to review, while others barely had a paragraph. In my classroom, I had students who relished this writing time, while others pulled their hair out in frustration. Teachers have all sorts of strategies to help their students become better writers in the classroom, but what can parents do at home to help ease writing anxiety and help the ideas flow more freely for them during writing class? In this blog, I will share some simple things parents can do to help reluctant kids become more comfortable with (and hopefully) enjoy writing.
Provide a Space and Materials
Kids need a unique writing space of their own. Create a special nook in your home that is your child’s writing sanctuary. If you have an extra room or even a desk, that would be great. But, if space is limited, don’t lose hope! You can take a cardboard box and turn it into an “office”. Your child can decorate it with colors, designs, and pictures that inspire them. Once the writing space has been created, go out and get different materials for them to create their writing masterpieces. Purchase different colors and styles of pens, different types of paper, scrapbooking materials, etc. Have your child organize these materials in their writing space. Then, let them unleash their creativity! Writing does not have to be an essay on notebook paper. They can create personal notes, postcards, greeting cards, posters, and more! The sky is the limit!
Emphasize Your Child’s Thoughts…Not Their Spelling
Spelling can really be a roadblock to kids’ writing. If I had a nickel for every time a student asked me how to spell a word while they were writing, I’d be rich! Kids need not let spelling slow them down. If kids do not know how to spell a word, have them spell as much of it as they can and keep on writing! As a teacher, it was so hard to tell them that I wasn’t going to help them with spelling at that moment. As a parent, I know that you will want to provide the spelling, but resist this temptation! Instead, teach your child how to sound out as much of the word as they can, then circle their attempt so that they can revisit the word later and correct it, if necessary.
Oral storytelling is the art of telling a story using your voice and gestures and has been around since ancient times. Not having words on a page to look at, listeners activate their imaginations and make a “movie in their minds” as they listen to the story being told. Imagine sitting around a campfire, flames licking the crisp night air, crackling and popping, as stories are being shared around the circle. Oral storytelling is an important part of literacy development. It improves a child’s oral fluency and the ability to use narrative language. When a child tells a story orally, they develop skills such as sequencing, character development, and story structure. All of which will benefit them when writing stories in the school setting.
To conclude, writing is a skill that kids need for LIFE. But, for many, it’s hard work. If your child has trouble forming thoughts into words or spelling those words correctly, it can be frustrating. These issues can keep kids from wanting to write. However, by implementing strategies such as the ones presented in this blog, parents can help turn their reluctant writers into enthusiastic writers! Write ON!