How to Get your Child to Write {even if they hate writing!}


Writing can be a daunting task - particularly for our youngest learners, and especially for our "perfectionist" non-risk takers. 

If the idea of writing has your kids resisting or butting heads with you, try these simple strategies to go from writing reluctance to writing receptiveness. Even if your child is just beginning to learn letters and sounds, they too can experience what it means to be an author!

1. Talk first. Write later.

"Writing floats on a sea of talk." - James Britton

The spoken word precedes the written word.  Before a child is capable of writing, they must have stories to tell. Providing opportunities to share orally is some of the best work we can do as parents to prepare fertile ground to plant the seeds for creative writing.

Small world play is one of the best sources for storytelling, because children are narrating their playscapes with characters - little people, dinosaurs, animals - which later provides inspiration for writing.

Where to share?

Think of all of the opportunities your child has to tell stories:

  • through play (narrating small world play scapes, dramatic play scenarios)
  • sharing about real-life experiences (field trips, family trips, visits with relatives)
  • imaginative story-telling {puppet shows, doll play}

These scenarios provide inspiration and fodder for writing.

Listen and observe closely with your eyes, ears and heart to your child's stories, and encourage them to communicate their ideas on paper. 

According to Literacy Today, "Children's writing is enhanced when they have many opportunities to elaborate on ideas through talkHowever, it takes time to create ... an environment where [children] are respected and their ideas are valued. This requires a climate of trust and risk-taking."

2. Give them something worth writing about!

Oral stories are the most meaningful point of entry for writing, but sometimes our kids need gentle encouragement, and they need us to help uncover their curiosities and provoke their thinking. 

Have they been playing a ton with dinosaurs? Think about a writing prompt that might pique their interest: "You found a dinosaur egg stuck in glacier ice. You decide to bring it home. What happens next?"

Writing prompts are a great way to give our children the gentle nudge to write about things that are meaningful to them.

Interested in superheroes? "Aquaman can survive underwater and Spiderman spins webs. What superpowers would YOU have? Show it in a picture or design it with plasticine!"

Writing prompts based on your child's emerging interests

3. Set criteria.

Before we can expect a child to complete any task or learn intentional outcomes, we must give them something to strive for. What are the expectations? How will your child know he has achieved them?

Work with your child to set up some criteria for good quality work. Depending on their age, you will modify these expectations.

Generally, at the age of 7, your child should:

  • Share a picture to convey his ideas
  • Write a few sentences to tell his story, using "guess-and-go" spelling or labels on his drawing.
  • Use capitalization, punctuation and adequate spacing between words
  • Share their story by reading it back to you

I like to post the criteria directly inside the Writer's Notebook, as a checklist. This way, your child is able to self-monitor and assess their own work, which leads to greater ownership of learning.

Set criteria with your child so they rise to the occasion.

4. Encourage pictures. Then labels.

If your child is hesitant {risk-averse, perfectionist} to put pencil to paper, or hasn't learned letter-sound connections, encourage him to draw a picture. Once completed, invite him to label the picture with letter sounds he knows, OR scribe for him. The simple act of connecting initial letter sounds with his pictures will show your child that print indeed conveys meaning.

Labelling their drawing is the first step to writing sentences.

5. Offer a word bank.

Sometimes our children get hung up on proper spelling of simple words. And although spelling is not the goal of creative writing, it is part of the editing process. Using a word bank with familiar words will help take the hesitancy and risk out of spelling, allowing your child the opportunity to focus on what matters most: sharing original ideas! 

6. DAZZLE UP their writer's notebook. {Make it their own!}

I LOVE using these half-lined + blank composition journals for writing, but they're so plain and boring! Why not artify them and make them your own?

One way to encourage ownership of writing is by creating a bespoke book cover through a process-art technique. Textures, colors, patterns, collage - nothing's off limits! Watch the video at the top of this post for a simple tutorial on creating your own handmade book cover, and your child will cherish his personalized notebook.

Of course, adding a fun nameplate is cool too. (;

7. Celebrate their work!

Invite your child to sit in an "Author's Chair" to share their work with others. This might be siblings, a parent, friends or recorded on video. Encourage pride in their work, and celebrate them as an author!

Invite your child to sit in an "Author's Chair" to share their writing with others.

Did you enjoy this post? I have a special invitation for you! Join me for a step-by-step BOOKMAKING WORKSHOP to explore DIY handmade book structures your kids can make to inspire writing in your homeschool!


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