Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Developing a Love for Writing

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to extinguish a child’s love for just about any academic activity. Writing often tops the list of many students I-hate-list, but it is the tool that will perhaps benefit them most of all as they move on to university.

Heres a few tips for helping your children develop a love for writing.

Use flexibility in writing assignments. Instead of assigning a topic, allow them to tell you what they’d like to write about. Help them brainstorm for ideas using some of their favorite activities, hobbies, or specific interests. Nothing will douse a love for writing like being forced to write about something they have no interest in. (They’ll have to do plenty of that in college!) If the curriculum you’re using says they must write a descriptive paragraph, at allow them to choose what they’d like to describe

Try different genres or types of writing. If their heads love to concoct stories, allow them to choose if it’s going to be a fantasy, science fiction, or historical mystery. If fiction’s not their thing, maybe they’d like to write newsletters or even make their own newspaper. Let them try their hand at cartoons, plays, or poetry.

Avoid making every assignment a masterpiece. While they do need to learn how to edit and revise, it doesn’t have to be perfect every time. Remember, if they love to write, they’ll improve faster than if they hate it.

Celebrate successes. Compliment them on word choice or find a sentence that is particularly good and let them know. 

Publish the writing. Our local homeschool group publishes a Literary Magazine each year with students writings and artwork. We’ve had both elementary and high school students submit work for it. The cover of the magazine is a contest for the best artwork. If you don’t have a group to work with, them publish your own Magazine of all the work your child does each year. Grandmothers love to receive such work and often offer outside praise that will further encourage the writer.

Realize that not everyone excels in every subject. If you have a math-oriented child, his writing skills may not rise to the level of his math skills. Help him gain enough skill to help him in college, but don’t try to make him a literary genius. Being a math genius is okay!

Study the Masters. When you read good books with your children, point out some of the great word choice or sentence structure. Or talk about the page-turning plot. Help them to study from the pros.

Remember to bless your children. Give them praise and loving touches. Let them know that you see a bright future for them. This may not turn them into famous authors, but it will help them to appreciate good writing.

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