Strategies for a Reluctant Writer

It's a common lament: "My child hates to write." This post will help you with practical strategies for working with a reluctant writer. 


Parents often tell me that their child will only write a few sentences and they want to know what they can do to help their child become a better writer. 

First things first. 


Good writers are always avid readers. Ask any prolific author his or her secret to being a great writer and they will tell you that you have to read a lot to be a good writer. So, make sure your child is reading a lot and reading from a wide range of genres. This will help him understand what good writing looks and sounds like and will help him discover his voice as a writer. 


Help your child understand that reading is receiving a message and writing is conveying a message. Children need to see themselves as communicators in order to see themselves as writers. 


Since writing is more than answering some questions on a test, make every effort to help your child see writing as a personal and unique way of expressing himself.



If your child struggles to get his thoughts on paper, here are some suggestions to help set the stage:

  • offer a safe environment in which to write - no criticism or critiquing of ideas or thoughts.
  • give opportunities to write daily.
  • offer short, focused writing opportunities that do not require revising and editing.
  • get them involved in everyday writing activities: shopping lists, directions, recipes, letter writing, thank you notes, etc.
  • exposure to great literature and great authors
  • provide tools to write with that will entice him: journals, colorful pens, a student dictionary, etc.

Students must be able to write fluently as well as read fluently.


Just as you would encourage your child to read with fluency, you should encourage and nurture fluent writing. This means allowing him to write freely without stopping to spellcheck every word. Teach your child that spelling, grammar, and word choice can be worked on later. The most important thing is to get their ideas flowing and onto paper. 


The biggest challenge most young writers face is overcoming their fear of spelling a word wrong. Take the emphasis away from spelling during the brainstorming and drafting stage and watch your child blossom as a writer!


Simple Ways to Incorporate Writing Into Your Day:

  • Journaling - this is a private safe space for children to write about anything
  • Readers' Response - ask them to write 3-5 sentences about a story they just read. It can be anything from "I like this story because..." to "This story made me happy because..." It's a simple way to build in writing and help them process what they've read.
  • Give them story starters. "My favorite part of the day is....because." "If I were a...I would..." etc. 
  • Write alternate endings to stories.
  • Write a letter to a character in the story.
  • Write a letter to the author.
  • Write a persuasive paper about why they should be allowed to stay up late, eat junk food, or go somewhere with a friend. 

Writing Tips to Encourage Writing and Improve Writing Skills 

  • Always write about what you know.
  • Choose a topic of interest.
  • Create short and catchy titles.
  • Use details - words that paint a picture for the reader.
  • Brainstorm: start with one word and then write down all the words that come to mind when you think of that word. For example: Camping. Write down all you can think about for camping: Smores, fire, bears, getting lost, tents, fishing, ghost stories. This will stimulate ideas for a story.
  • Do some interactive writing: write a story together, you write a line, he writes a line. 
  • Make lists of ideas for future writing.
  • Copy favorite poems, song lyrics, quotes, and sayings. Keep in a journal. 


Final Thoughts

A little goes a long way. Short everyday practicing with writing will help your child develop skills that will sustain him when it's time to create a fully published piece of writing.

Teach editing skills naturally. Remind him about punctuation and ask him to fix spelling errors without making it into a lesson. 

Don't edit everything and have fun with writing! 


Lastly, your attitude or feelings about writing will impact how you teach your child. Let go of your frustrations or fears and that will free you up to enjoy exploring writing with your child! 




PS: If you need support and more resources, just message me in the Facebook group


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