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Deborah Gaskill
Deborah Gaskill , Caregiver, Parent asks:
Q:

How can we get our 10 yr old son to like writing?

Our son Robert is a very intelligent boy. But, he gives us so many problems when he has to write an essay, paragraph etc. We have try ed the reward and take away system. How do we get him to except this as one of the things he has to do the rest of his life and like doing it?

Thank you,
Deborah
In Topics: Helping my child with writing
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Sylvia HS
Mar 15, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Deborah,

In my work as a Reading Specialist in a public school system, I've seen a number of children who feel the same way as your son.  Immediately, I look for reasons for this.  Does the student have difficulties with printing/handwriting?  Does the student have ideas in his/her head, but can't write them down very easily?  Does the student have difficulties with spelling and not want to put things down on paper if they aren't spelled correctly?  These kinds of questions.

If your son, Robert, has difficulties with the fine-motor control required for printing/handwriting, then I suggest that you have him assessed by an Occupational Therapist.  They can give your son, yourself, and your son's teacher valuable information for strengthening the fine muscles of his hand, using an effective pencil grip, using certain kinds of lined paper, learning keyboarding, etc.

If your son has lots of ideas in his head but doesn't know how to write them down very easily, then I suggest that you try the following techniques.

 You could be his scribe.  He would do the research on the topic and when he says he's ready, he could tell you what he knows and you could write it down for him.  After it's written down, then you and he could edit it.  You might write the main body of the essay/report, and he could write the opening paragraph and the conclusion.

Or, you could do "paired writing".  You and he would take turns writing.  You could each write one sentence in turn.  Or, you could write several sentences on one aspect of the topic, and he could write several sentences, or a paragraph, on another aspect of the topic.  I've found this technique to be very successful in building up the confidence of reluctant writers.  Gradually, you could write less and he could write more.  He would decide how much he wanted to write the first time you do this together.  And then gradually, you could encourage him to write more.  This technique takes the pressure of writing everything off of your son.

If he has spelling difficulties, then you could tell him the correct spelling of any word he doesn't know.  Or, he could circle any words he doesn't know how to spell, and you could help him fix those words afterwards.  We don't want children to be stopped in their creativity, by not knowing how to spell certain words.  Their thinking is usually at a higher level than their spelling.

Another technique that I've found very helpful is to have students sketch their story/essay/report ideas in an organized drawing before they write about it.  The sketch shows all of their thinking.  In fact, they do all of their thinking before they write.  Then the task of actually printing/handwriting is really shortened up for them and they find it much easier.

I hope that these ideas will be helpful to you and to your son.


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Additional Answers (4)

lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Dear Deborah,

Thanks for your question. I know that there are many parents of school-aged children who are struggling with exactly the same situation, and I am confident that your experiences and the advice you receive will help others.

I would consider moving away from the reward system for writing. Although this approach will get him writing, I think that he may ultimately associate writing with some form of external reward or punishment. If your larger goal is to encourage a love and appreciation for writing, you should work to model positive writing habits in the home and provide small opportunities for writing each and every day. For instance, you might try some of the following strategies:

1. Role model a love and appreciation for writing in the household. Write personal letters and cards to friends or start a journal. Let your son know what you are doing and and express your enjoyment and appreciation for the activity.

2. Provide opportunities for your son to write at home using everyday activities. Ask your son to take notes for you while you put together your grocery store shopping list. Begin using post-in notes to communicate important messages or words of adoration to one another. For instance, leave a note on the bathroom mirror reminding him of clarinet practice or letting him know you love him. Encourage him to use notes to communicate with you, too.

I have included a number of URLs with additional tips for inspiring a love of writing below. The National Writing Project has produced a wonder booklet for parents available for $1.75. The last link will provide more information for ordering.

Good luck!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
Education.com

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Danielle
Danielle , Parent writes:
I make my living writing, so I'm a bit biased in how important a skill I think it is to cultivate! That said, what jumps out at me here is the fact that your comment could have come from my own mother-- she had a daughter who loved to write (me) and a son who resisted writing assignments with a passion. Part of that was the fact that he really hated the handwriting portion of it. Once my parents got permission for him to type all his assignments, it made a huge difference. I think it's also important to allow your son to see the joy of writing, so that he learns to enjoy it. Right now, it sounds like he dreads the assignments. If writing came more easily to him and he realized it was something he could be good at, and something that could be fun for him, things might be different when an assignment came around. Think about things you can encourage him to write that might be more fun for him. Boys often gravitate towards fantasy writing, graphic novels/comics, writing a film script, sports writing, and other genres that as moms, we might not find quite so interesting. Think about where his interests lie and what he enjoys reading, then figure out what he might like to write.

With my son, I will often tell him that "all I want for my birthday" or "all I want for Mother's Day" is a book he writes for me himself. Sometimes he will write and illustrate a story for me. Sometimes he'll write about an event we did together and tape on some photos, then bind the book. I've also asked him to write a letter to himself about who he is this year, so down the road he can look back at it and say, "Wow. That's what I was like then!" Kids are often attracted to this sort of writing project if you frame it as a "time capsule" rather than an essay.

The main thing is to figure out ways to make writing fun rather than something he "has" to do--whether it's writing a story, writing dialogue for his own comic book, or writing the family blog or newsletter. Good luck!

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olivialeeper
olivialeeper writes:
Start at the good part. If you're writing a story, start in the middle when the action begins. Most of the time, if you jump in you can connect the spaces after you finish what you are inspired to write. If you're working on an essay or similar and know how you're going to conclude, write that. It's easier to get from point A to point B if you actually have one of those points written down.
> 60 days ago

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shinesprite
shinesprite writes:
My son had this same problem. We are a traditional home schooling family, previously e-schooling. He is very advanced in all subjects, but does have issues with spelling. He is a very literal little guy, so needless to say when asked to write about your opinion on something he was clearly frustrated and didn't want to do it. His interest have expanded since we switched our schooling styles, but it is still a very short list. Before switching he would write only as many sentences as necessary. That was like pulling teeth it was so horrible for both of us. Now it takes less than the several hours it took before, normally up to 20 minutes including re-writing for spelling errors, etc. If you can change the subject to something he's interested in, do it. Find something new or just different and make it fun. Read a book and have him write an essay to show you what he learned. Write a story, breaking it up into parts. Talk about it aloud first, then write it down having him use his words. I found that slowing my son's thought process down and concentrating on one section at a time, especially if it isn't his favorite thing to write about, works wonders. I'll give my son a topic and have him google it and list facts. Then he has to turn that into a paragraph. Add on to the paragraph with an opening paragraph, a summary paragraph, and an opinion paragraph. Picking fun adjectives with a topic makes it fun to figure it into the essay. It's all about making it fun. It is a process, but it doesn't have to seem so big for them. It's like putting a puzzle together. You separate pieces and put sections together. You don't just jump in and go for it. One step at a time and they'll love what they've created and feel proud of their work.
> 60 days ago

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