Inside: After years of struggling to homeschool my reluctant writer, I have discovered 8 tips to help her find success and overcome her aversion to writing. Supporting your reluctant writers isn’t as challenging as you may think.
A child sits at the table, staring blankly at her paper, becoming increasingly upset as each second passes. Sounds of frustration come from her mouth. She slams her pencil on the table and lays her head down.
Another day and another writing assignment left unfished.
If this is what your homeschool writing periods look like, I understand more than you know. I have a lot of experience with reluctant writers.
After four years of homeschooling, I have tried several ways to encourage my reluctant writer. Some worked and some only made her more resistant to writing.
Please keep reading if you are looking for strategies to help you homeschool your reluctant writers.
8 Ways To Help Reluctant Writers
The writing process involves planning, drafting, revising, editing, and finally, a completed version. Students must consider grammar, spelling, vocabulary, sentence structure, and an overall flow while coming up with ideas on a topic they often are not attached to.
Combine all of this with a red pencil, and the stress alone will induce writer’s block.
Encourage Thoughts First
If your child insists that crossing the Serengeti would be easier than drafting a sentence, you may need to change your approach. Instead of asking for sentences, ask your child to write down thoughts.
In essence, you want your child to free write. Freewriting means writing without the fear of being judged or corrected. As a thought enters, their head they write it down.
Have them look around the room and choose objects that draw their attention. Look for textures, colors, shapes, etc.
Let your child know that all you want is for her to write down thoughts and not to worry about grammar or spelling. Once your child has some ideas on paper, then simply ask, “How can we create a sentence out of this thought?” or “What would you need to do to turn this thought into a sentence?”
Allow your child to answer and self-correct. Gently continue to correct and adjust until your child sees how her thought is now a real sentence.
Create a Writing Atmosphere For Reluctant Writers
Provide your child with a writer’s station to get her in the right frame of mind to write. A quiet corner with a bean bag and a notebook. Or a clean desk with an inspiring view can give a child the space she needs to transcribe her thoughts.
Younger children may enjoy a tote filled with colored pencils, paper, stickers, and picture books to generate ideas.
The goal is to create an atmosphere of low stress which alleviates the fear of the blank page. Create a comfortable setting that fosters the flow of ideas and minimizes distractions.
Let Them Choose What To Write About
A simple way to generate ideas is for a student to write about a topic of interest. Whatever topic your child enjoys or has vast knowledge on is the perfect training ground for writing.
Your child can write on games, horses, sports, or fashion, just as long as it inspires a story or fun facts your child wants to share.
Some children do best with creative writing, where they don’t feel confined to facts. Where other children prefer writing only non-fiction, let your child determine their type of writing preference.
You will soon notice a natural writing style begins to emerge; the more your child writes about their interests.
Connect Writing to Something Meaningful or Practical
Perhaps your child would find it easier to write down thoughts for a thank you card, birthday card, or letter to a loved one. You can start with something as easy as the grocery list or Christmas list.
Once your child creates a list, you can add ideas to it, such as a menu plan or list why a gift is requested. On items that are outside of your school day, it is best not to grade or correct.
Your child needs to feel comfortable jotting down ideas and seeing her ideas as words on paper.
If your student has difficulty coming up with ideas to write about, then provide the ideas. You can start by asking your child to write a sentence or two about the book she is reading or how she would decorate her room.
Every day just a little prompt to warm up and get her mind on track with the getting thoughts on paper.
Allow For Fun Writing Activities
Creating opportunities for fun writing activities help relieve the anxiety and pressure, reluctant writers feel. Try something fun like “create a story together.” Each member of the family writes a sentence building on the last sentence.
Pass around the paper until you complete a paragraph or two. When the story is complete, the entire family can laugh at the story they helped create.
Or why not try this fun writing activity by John Spencer, Create a To-Do List for a Super-Villain. Kitty Kat is a huge Darth Vadar fan, so this was right up her alley!
Download these FREE themed writing pages to use with your fun writing activities! Choose one theme for your reluctant writers or download them all!
Consider Graphic Organizers For Reluctant Writers
Offer your student a graphic organizer. For some students utilizing a graphic organizer as the first step in the writing process helps them organize and sequence their ideas. Graphic organizers serve as a visual tool, making writing manageable and approachable.
Be Their Scribe
Yes, I know this post is about writing. But I found when my reluctant reader wasn’t focused on spelling, grammar, and punctuation, she was able to focus on story development.
Once her ideas began to flow, it was like the flood gates had finally opened.
Encouraging Your Reluctant Writers
I hope you find these tips helpful in motivating your reluctant writers. Please continue to encourage your kids to practice and to have fun with their writing!
Writing is a process. The more you practice, the better and more confident writer you become.
Do you have a reluctant writer? What strategies have you used to help motivate them?