How to Boost Your Writing Instruction
Do you find teaching writing to be a chore? Are you stuck on where to go next? Or how to get
your child motivated to write?
Parents and teachers alike often find writing a difficult subject to teach. It can be tedious, and trying. It may not be the favorite subject of the parent or the student, and it could be unintention-ally pushed down the road, again and again.
The problem is that writing is incredibly important, on many different levels. On a practical level, almost every job requires at least some writing. If our children plan to attend college, there will be endless amounts of writing. If they go into either of these worlds without being a skilled writer, we are setting them at a disadvantage. They will be forced to catch up, which is frustrating, time consuming, and frankly quite expensive.
But maybe even more importantly, writing is how we express ourselves and how we communicate with each other. Writing as a tool for self expression can be empowering, cathartic and even healing. As a tool for communication, it can often be more thoughtful, thorough and measured, than when we communicate orally. It is only because of writing that we are able to learn about the people who have come before us, the great cultures, our great advancements, and Shakespeare, just to name a few. None of this would be possible if we didn't write, and write well.
So how do we improve not only our motivation to teach writing, but our children’s motivation to
write? Here are some ideas you may find helpful:
Encourage your child’s Ideas, Imagination, and Interests!
Begin by letting your child write about something that interests them!
Do they love reading or telling fiction stories? They probably have some ideas for great narratives! Let them take the reins in creating a narrative about whatever they like. Do they like stories of knights and princesses? Let them write their own fairy tale! Do they have a passion for science fiction? Encourage them to create stories that are out of this world!
Are they experts in a field? Do they make friendship bracelets? Can they do a cartwheel? Teach them how to make a “How To” book on something they are really good at! Everybody likes sharing their talents, you’re just helping to channel that desire into writing. Does you child have other ideas they want to write about? Let them do it! The main idea is to get them used to writing, by letting them write about something that is important to them.
We are always more motivated by tasks we are interested in. If we are being asked to write about something we aren’t interested in, it is doubly tough!
Save Editing Until Appropriate
As they’re writing their ideas down, don’t stand over their shoulder correcting their writing. Nothing is more discouraging than feeling like your writing needs to be perfect from the get go. The first thing all skilled writers do is get their ideas down on the paper. It is not perfect and it isn’t supposed to be! The first stage of writing is letting your creativity and ideas flow.
Help your child get his/her ideas down with a storyboard, or graphic organizer if they need it, or just allow them to write freely. There will be a time for revisions and edits, but not until they have written their first full draft.
Revise, Edit and Publish
Once they have completed their first full draft, and they feel content that they have gotten all of their ideas down. Now is the time to teach them to go through their work, looking for ways to improve their writing. You can start with revision. Have them re-read their work aloud to them-selves. Could any parts sound smoother? Does anything need to be moved around? The revisions should be their own ideas. The important part is that they guide this exercise.
A great way to teach this is by revising some of your own writing right in front of them! Write about something you are passionate about. Then revise it with them, narrating your thoughts as you go. Follow this same pattern with editing. Let them see you find your own mistakes, then they can look at their own work and do the same.
Once all of these processes are done, it is time to publish! This can be done in any number of ways! If your child would like, they could add illustrations and a cover. You could even laminate the cover and put it in your home library for any family member to read. When I teach my kids, I always have a publishing party where each child reads their piece, we clap and give compliments, while drinking apple cider and eating little cookies. It is such a fun day, and they absolutely love it!
I hope you find these ideas helpful to boost your writing instruction and motivate your child to write!