Can your child talk and tell stories for hours but can't seem to get more than a few words on the page when it comes to writing? Try these tips to overcome fears and discover a love of writing together!
1. Keep the goal in mind
Fears of being embarrassed, making spelling errors, having learning difficulties, and the demanding physical process of writing can really hinder creativity. When you sit down with your child to write, make sure there is plenty of time to complete the assignment. This alleviates the added pressure of producing under a time constraint. Use this opportunity to explore and encourage creativity.
2. Try Freewriting as a warm-up
Freewriting is a stream of consciousness exercise. It means writing down whatever comes to mind without editing or judgment. The only rule in freewriting is "Don’t stop!"
If your kids are having trouble starting a writing assignment, try a few short freewriting exercises to help them become more comfortable. Here’s one suggestion: Ask them to think about their dream house. Where would it be? What color would its walls be? What kind of furniture? Have your kids write their ideas without editing or correction. Or, try a timed writing based on a one-word prompt.
3. Keep moving through mistakes
Getting hung up on perfect spelling and punctuation can halt the creative process completely. Praise your child for recognizing the mistake, but keep the focus on content. Come back to the misspelled words or confusing commas when the writing is finished and give the errors full attention.
4. Is the pencil getting in the way?
If holding pens and pencils is uncomfortable or seems to distract from the writing process, try a simple dictation program. This will let your child's thoughts and imagination relax. Apple's built-in dictation program and Dragon are two of the more popular programs.
Once they see the words they’ve produced, children often have a sense of pride in those words and are more willing to make them better.
5. Have a plan
Tackle one part of the writing at a time. If the assignment is to write a short story, start with a simple outline. Celebrate finishing the first goal and jump into the next, perhaps writing the first sentence of each paragraph.
Breaking any task down into smaller, more manageable pieces makes the whole endeavor less frightening and more fun.