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A common complaint I hear from parents is that their student doesn’t like writing. My recommendations vary depending on the student’s age, but there are a few universal tips for any age. First, it’s important to understand the components of writing and the reasons students may be avoiding it.
Writing is one of the vital parts of a well-rounded education. It is typically a necessary communication skill. Writing things by hand has been shown to be beneficial for brain development and it helps learners retain information. But there are many reasons students may dislike writing or avoid it.
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers enjoy scribbling. Eventually, they create recognizable images. Then, they start adding letters to represent sounds (phonetic writing). Writing, as a skill for communication, generally comes after reading. Pre-reading and pre-writing (about ages 3 to 6), most students see shapes that later become refined into letters and then words. As students understand words and spelling, their writing begins to reflect that.
Somewhere along the way, students may begin to avoid writing. There may be physical or cognitive difficulties. It can also be a mismatch of expectations. Young elementary students are not physically strong enough for prolonged writing.
However, once your child is physically and mentally capable and comfortable with writing, how can you encourage them to practice this skill?
Tip # 1 – Tell a story
Kids LOVE sharing their ideas and stories. For the littles, I’d say around 4-8 years old, pairing their writing with a picture or in a book is a great way to get them engaged. Composition books with a blank picture area and drawing area below or little blank books are usually well–received.
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Tip # 2 – Whiteboard magic
I don’t know exactly what it is, but kids really like writing on whiteboards. Maybe because markers are easier to hold or because it’s easier to correct but a simple whiteboard set can go far. We have a whiteboard magnet on our fridge that my big kids use and my oldest (12 with ADHD/dyslexia) likes to do his math work on a whiteboard instead of paper.
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Tip # 3 – Write a note or a letter
Sticky notes or a nice stationery set are an inviting way to get students to put pen to paper. Set up a pen pal group with friends or ask them to label things with sticky notes. I really like the pen pal group because then students get experience with sending and receiving mail. There’s not much that excites kids more than getting something in the mail. Another way to practice writing notes is to do a parent-child journal or talk by writing. For sensitive subjects or to avoid his little brother knowing what he’s talking about, my big kid will sometimes write notes to me and I’ll respond.
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Tip # 4 – Let them choose their writing tools
Aside from being a stickler for pencils with math work, I don’t care what the kids write with (unless it’s going to bleed through). Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and fancy pens can make a difference. Think gel pens and scented markers. Adults tend to have their favorite types of writing utensils and kids prefer to write with what feels good/looks nice/is fun too!
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Tip # 5 – Technology is your friend
Two things I’ve used successfully for my oldest are speech-to-text and mobile messaging. Sometimes the brain moves faster than the hand. Speech-to-text lets the thoughts flow without worrying about handwriting or spelling. Once the “writing” is done, they can go back and edit it. With mobile devices, your student can type their message and send it by text or social media. Sometimes my kid will ask to communicate through the note app on the phone.
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Hopefully, these tips will give you a good start for your learner to write more often and happily.
Below are some things that may be helpful. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (no cost to you but gives me more time to blog) BUT…
Check the thrift store and dollar stores to find inexpensive deals to try. Also, stores like Big Lots or TJMaxx often have discounted items.
Leave a comment below telling us how you get your kids to write more often.
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