I wrote the other day about a very welcome article I found in the latest edition of TOS. Vicki Caruana addresses reaching the Reluctant Writer, and this is something we have been struggling with in our home. The ideas that folks came up with in the comments are terrific! My sister-in-law suggested that we turn every request of our daughter’s into a writing assignment, and that has possibilities. Want to invite a friend over? Put it in writing! Want to have a movie night? Put it in writing!
Now, obviously, we don’t want to destroy spontaneity, and we don’t want to make her have to work for every family activity, but I see real possibilities here (I wonder if I could work that into my college classes).
Caruana also addresses “Lack of Focus” in her article, and I think that’s valid. Children (and college students AND college graduates) need some amount of direction in terms of such an assignment (although I would say that submitting a written request for a sleepover, for example, provides a lot of focus). Still, I understand this idea of focus. We don’t want her flailing as she tries to figure out what to write about.
Set your child up for success by providing ways to generate and then organize her ideas.
We are working more on this. For example, when it comes to spelling, I began by saying, “write three sentences using your spelling words.” She complained that she couldn’t think about what to say, or she gave me what I consider “lazy sentences” (”I see a penny.”) So I switched to just giving her sentences that used the spelling words. Then she asked, “what if I want to write something different?”
New approach: we make up the sentences together. I sit at the computer and she and I hack out sentences for each of her spelling words. She seems to like that. Eventually, I might let her take the driver’s seat (see? I knew you were going to say that!). For now, we’ll give this cooperative approach a whirl.
This is a small example of providing focus, but I think it gets at what Ms. Caruana is talking about.