Getting Your Kids To Write

My girls go through writing spurts. For weeks at a time, they won’t want to write a single sentence. Then, all of a sudden, they pick up a yellow pad of paper and become obsessed with writing stories, or reports, or lists.

For example, my kids received a one-month gift card for Club Penguin, an online community for kids. (It’s an amusing waste of time.) Well, it turns out, that after using Club Penguin for a month, once the girls’ membership stopped, they lost all of their igloo furniture and cool penguin clothes. Needless to say, my girls were outraged. So what did they do? They wrote protest letters to Club Penguin. They ever created sign with the following text: “Club Penguin Betrayed US!”

Long story short — I’m not worried about my girls becoming writers. They already are. (Though it might be nice if they improved their spelling — but that’s a whole other blog.)

However, I know lots of homeschool kids who can’t stand writing. These kids would rather have a root canal than write an essay. So, what do you do with this sort of student? Well, here are a few theories:

Force them to write. Set aside an hour each day — even on the weekends — and make your child do nothing but write. I call this the Boot Camp method. I’m not too fond of it, by the way. This is basically how I was taught math — Work on it till its done. Check it. Fix it. Get it right. Ugh! I hated Math then, and even today, Math and I are not on speaking terms. So, I would warn parents against the Boot Camp Method. It might improve the student’s writing in the short term (the more you write, the better you write, so they say).

Teach them the Bare Minimum. There are terribly boring things called: 5 Paragraph Essays. I call them Cookie Cutter Essays, because the structure is so restrictive, so Fill-in-the-blank, paint-by-numbers sort of writing, that t might teach them to become passable writers (think “C+”) but it won’t inspire them to become great writers.

Choose Fun Topics: That’s right, fun. Do they like video games? Have them write an story outline or a concept for a new game. Heck, have them write a few paragraphs that invents an entirely new game system — let them outdo the Nintendo Wii. If they love animals, let them choose their favorite and right a report — or a poem — or a short story. Whether it’s creative writing of formal essay writing — it might not not matter. As long as they are exploring and analyzing subjects that they are passionate about, they’ll start to fall in love with writing.

Can you tell which method I prefer?