Writing fluently will remain an important skill our children need to master.
Your child might not be very interested in writing because they have so many other interesting things they would rather do. Many children are much more interested in doing something physical than sitting down to write. Especially when your child finds writing difficult it will come a definite last in the list of important and fun things they want to do that day.
There are a few quite simple things you can do to encourage them to write.The first thing to do is capture their attention and their interest so that they are willing to write with you. Unless you sell them writing in a way that captures their interest they will not be willing to attempt this task they dislike and they will not work willingly with you. You cannot force them to write ever because when a person is not willing to do something, they usually do it very sloppily and hurriedly. Instead first understand exactly what they don’t like about writing.
Listen closely to deeply understand.
The most successful and respectful way to help someone become a writer, and an excellent way to capture their interest, is to listen closely to them to deeply understand how they are thinking and feeling about writing before you ever offer solutions. Take as much time as necessary to deeply understand your child’s position. This might take several talks with them. Remember to never judge what they are saying by minimizing it, mentioning incidents where it was worse for you or their sister, or believing that they are exaggerating or making excuses. Instead just feel deeply interested in what they are saying and keep asking questions that encourage them to open up to you, and help you understand their position even more. As they talk you might notice that you want to offer the ‘helpful’ solutions that pop into your head. they might not be the right solutions for your child, or perhaps not the right solutions to offer just yet. In fact your child will feel that you have stopped listening to them and that you are trying to just fix the problem quickly, as perhaps you often have in the past, if you offer them solutions as they are explaining their dislike of writing. This time do it differently and take lots of time to understand their position.
Problem-solve with them, not for them, by TENTATIVELY suggesting solutions.
When you are both satisfied that you have fully understood their thoughts and feelings around writing, other quite exciting and useful solutions often pop up, many of them quite different from what you would have first suggested. Feel free to suggest them tentatively as possible solutions, watching your child for their reactions. You might have decided that it is non-negotiable that they will be writing regularly at home, and your child most probably has realised that themselves. However when, where, and how that happens, and what they write about are all negotiable.
Possible solutions I often offer students when we will be writing include:
- You will only write about what you want to write about and my job as your editor is to help you discover what that is.
- I will only let you write for 10 minutes.
- Don’t worry about the spelling. Just write your ideas down. We will sort the spelling later.
- Don’t worry about your handwriting. Good writing is all about the ideas not how tidy your writing looks.
- Let’s get the writing over and done with first then do something that you like more.
- I will share-write with you too if you like. I think that would be fun! We could write a story together.
Here are some more ideas on ways to respectfully discuss writing with your child.
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