Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Working with Young or Reluctant Writers

Dealing with a reluctant or beginning writer can be frustrating at best. At worst, it can make you want to throw your hands up in surrender.  Instead, refocus your energy on small accomplishments and find ways to “trick” your young writer into frequent practice.

One way to get your reluctant writer practicing is to have them write thank you notes. Even preschool and kindergarten age students can be writing their own thank you notes at birthday and holiday time. (For even more practice, write thank you notes for play dates and outings with grandma!)  Sit with your reluctant or young writer and let them dictate a basic thank you of 2 or 3 sentences. As they dictate the words, write them on a tablet of primary lined paper. Carefully form each letter properly. Be sure the grammar is correct—even if you need to correct the way it was spoken to you.  Then read the note back to your child while pointing out each word.

“Is this what you want to say?” 

Give the young or reluctant writer ownership of the words and the message. This will make them aware that each word is important.  The message might be simple:

     Dear Aunt Sally, 

     Thank you for coming to my birthday party. Thank you for the doll. I love her. 


Short and sweet but completely appropriate for a young child.  Now have your child copy the words on a clean sheet of paper. You may need to sit with her and help her stay focused—but DO NOT take over!  After the note is written, let her decorate the edges with crayons or markers and then fold it and put it in an envelope.

Finish each note beginning to end in one sitting. After all, writing is a process that will be more fulfilling when it produces a finished product.

Have high but reasonable expectations. Insist on proper spelling, letter formation, and punctuation. (I highly suggest writing in pencil!) You might only finish one note a day—but that’s okay! This means more time to practice tomorrow!

Believe me, the positive reinforcement that comes from those who receive the notes will more than encourage your little one to keep on writing!

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