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How to Make Your Kids Want to Write (or at Least Grumble a Little Less)


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If motivating your children to write seems like an impossible dream, try these tips to tone down the writing-related grumbling in your homeschool.-

“My kid hates to write!” How many times have you said those words or heard another homeschooling parent say them? Reluctant writers are the entire reason we started sharing monthly printable writing prompts.

But, even with writing prompts, how do you get a reluctant writer to like writing…or, at least not grumble about it quite so much?

motivating your children to write

Try these tips to make writing more agreeable to the pencil-twirlers and corner-doodlers in your house.

How to Make Your Kids Want to Write (or at Least Grumble a Little Less)

1. Give Writing Purpose

Writing needs to have a purpose. Think of all the reasons adults write. Most of the time it isn’t just to practice our handwriting or get a smiley-face sticker for a job well done.

While we don’t all enjoy journaling our feelings or publishing a blog, and we can’t all be authors, nearly every adult writes something regularly as part of our everyday lives. As adults, we write:

  • emails to share information
  • Facebook posts to connect with friends
  • lists to help us remember what we need to do or items we need to purchase
  • letters to the editor to express an opinion
  • notes to friends and loved ones

Have your kids write for various reasons:

To Communicate with a Friend or Relative

A friend has a daughter who is dating a boy who joined the Marines. He’s in basic training right now, and the only way they can communicate is through letters. My friend says her daughter has written more in the last month than probably her entire existence prior with nary a complaint. {grin} Obviously, a military boyfriend isn’t going to work for everyone, but you can look for other ways to give your kids’ writing meaning.

So Their Writing Can Be Displayed

The Reason for Handwriting books provide pretty writing pages for kids to write their final handwriting practice for the week. They’re perfect for mailing to grandparents or decorating the fridge.

To Be Published

There are children’s magazines that accept stories, informational pieces,  essays, poems, etc. from children to publish in their magazines. Some may be physical magazines and others may be online, but it doesn’t matter! It’s always fun for a child or teen to see his/her work in print somewhere! (Look below at #5–which is about publishing.)

To Give Feedback or Ask for Information from a Company

Let them send letters or emails asking for information from or sharing feedback with companies whose products they use and enjoy. When I taught middle school years ago, I had my students choose a company and ask a question about something they wanted to learn more about. For example, one student wrote to a toothpaste company asking how the company got the toothpaste inside the tube. One student wrote to a magazine asking how they chose writers and articles. One student wrote to a candy company asking what they did with the candy that was misshapen. Many of my students got great responses, and some even got coupons for free products, free magazines, etc. It turned out to be a really fun project that truly did give my students a reason for writing.

2. Define Your Purpose

Decide why you want your kids to write. The reason will likely vary based on your students’ ages and abilities. Do you want them to be able to convey their opinions on a topic? Craft a killer college application essay? Express their creativity? Practice their handwriting? Put grammar, mechanics, and spelling rules into practice?

Once you define your purpose for writing, align your assignments with those goals. Your reluctant writer who hates journaling doesn’t necessarily need daily journal prompts. Instead, plan assignments designed to perfect his college essay writing skills.

Let your young writers practice their penmanship skills by copying passages from their favorite storybooks or graphic novels. And, when you’re working on punctuation and capitalization, don’t comment on the handwriting.

Are you working on tapping into your students’ creative side? Put the red pen down and leave spelling and grammar lessons for another day.

WriteShop

3. Provide the Tools

Make sure your students have all the tools they need to be successful writers – and these tools aren’t just pens and paper. Surround them with good stories. Make regular trips to the library. Listen to podcasts and radio shows. Tell each other stories. Read aloud. Listen to audiobooks in the car.

One way to ensure strong writers is by growing strong readers and storytellers.

Make sure your kids have easy access to the physical tools for writing, as well. Some options are a well-stocked writing center or even mini-offices. You don’t have to do anything elaborate, though.

Make sure they have access to a good dictionary and a quality thesaurus. If colorful pens or pencils and cute journals make writing more palatable, make them available. (Crafty kids might enjoy writing more just because of creating this make-your-own-journal to write in!)

tips for getting kids to write without complaining

4. Editing

One of the most important things you can teach your kids about writing is the “sloppy copy.” So many kids struggle to write because they think everything has to be right the first time, or they edit as they go. I used to tell my kids that they could not turn in a paper without the accompanying sloppy copy (first draft).

You can’t edit a blank page. Kids need to just get their thoughts on paper so they have ideas to work with. Always have your students write their sloppy copy one day and edit it during the next writing session. Waiting to edit helps them view their writing with a fresh perspective.

Teach your kids self-editing techniques. When you edit their papers, focus on only one or two types of errors at a time. For example, if you’ve been working on using strong verbs and proper capitalization, mark those errors. Let the spelling errors and missed punctuation here and there slide until the next lesson when that’s your focus.

motivating your children to write

5. Publishing

Finally, fulfill the purpose of the writing assignment by publishing your child’s work. Publishing doesn’t have to mean getting your student’s work into a print book or magazine – though it can.

Publishing might mean:

  • sending a letter to a friend or relative
  • creating a blog post
  • producing a video
  • creating a presentation
  • making a homemade book
  • mailing that college application with the fantastic essay

You might also try printing certificates for completed assignments or figuring out a “leveling up” system for acknowledging completed types of writing (essays, poems, persuasive, how-to, etc.).

It means absolutely nothing to my everyday life, but I get excited every time I earn a badge or level up playing Words with Friends. (Even though I thought the whole badge thing was ridiculous when it was first introduced.) Sometimes it’s fun to have a tangible record of your achievement. Maybe leveling up earns your student a treat such as candy, extra screen time, or an outing with Mom or Dad.

Writing lessons don’t have to mean grumbling and an hour-long doodle fest. Try these tips to help your kids see the usefulness of learning to write well.

What has worked for you to tone down the grumbling about writing in your homeschool?

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Author profile

Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, Homeschool Road Trips, Love These Recipes, and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 29 years ago, and they live in the South with their three children. Hannah, age 25, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 24, was the second homeschool graduate and the first to leave the nest. Mary Grace, age 18, is the remaining homeschool student. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow an herb garden every summer with limited success.

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One Comment

  1. My kids don’t hate writing, but they’re obviously not enthusiastic about doing it. I guess all kids are like that, though. But I think handwriting is a very important skill that kids need to learn (I am sharing an article about the benefits of handwriting to support this opinion: https://www.homeschool.com/blog/why-your-teen-needs-to-know-cursive ).
    It’s been a long process of teaching them how to write by hand. We came up with all kinds of ways – writing letters to Daddy or Grandpa and Grandma, writing garage sale notices and hanging them around the neighborhood, making grocery lists, and other things. I really tried to get them interested in writing in some way. So that they didn’t just write one word on paper over and over again, but applied their knowledge in some real-life practice.
    Now we practice handwriting with the youngest child, the others are already confident pencil users. But it is more difficult to get them interested in writing. Your ideas might help a lot!

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