Is it painful to see your child slamming his head against a wall when all he has to do is write a simple paragraph? What if that could change?
The subject of Language Arts comes with a mixed bag of expectations. While your child is learning all about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation he is also expected to write. More often than not, the rules of writing are emphasized more than the content of what is written. The child must obey the rules while at the same time come up with his own original thoughts. Before you know it, he is frustrated because he can’t seem to meet the expectations the rules are placing onto his creativity. The key is separating the expectations of writing. When we separate the rules and creativity of writing we loosen the tight grip a child may feel when asked to complete a writing assignment.
Rules vs. Creativity
There is a place for learning the rules. However, if we make space for a child to be free from the rules of writing, for a time, to focus primarily on creativity and letting his thoughts flow, he will begin to cultivate the content of the writing. This is the goal of writing, after all, to have the actual body of written words. Once we have thoughts on paper then at some point down the road we can take a closer look at revising and proofreading.
In the weekly Co-Op writing class I teach, we have seen several children grow leaps and bounds in their willingness to write. One of the catalysts for that growth is the positivity we emphasize in class. Every week we have three students read their stories and after each presentation, their classmates first applaud and then share only positive feedback. I love to watch the enthusiasm of students overflowing with praise for the work of their fellow classmates. This positivity alone may be what is motivating certain students to write. In his book Burro Genius, Victor Villasenor shares his powerful story of struggling in school. One day a substitute teacher overlooked the many technical mistakes in a story he wrote and gave him the first ‘A’ ever in his life because the content of his writing was pure, passionate, and heartfelt. From that moment forward he knew he had something special to share with the world. Now he is nationally acclaimed for his work as an author and lecturer. One person was able to overlook mistakes to see the true ability of a child and then shared a positive review. That positivity was a life raft for Victor Villasenor and helped him to see himself for what he was: a writer. For more info check out https://victorvillasenor.com.
We all are writers. Whether we realize it or not we all have a story to share with the world. Children and young people need the freedom to write. Writing prompts, journals, poems, and lists are all great ways to get kids to write. Giving a child the freedom to choose what he would like to write might unlock his desire to write.
Encourage your budding writers and provide opportunities for them to grow with positivity and freedom. Who knows what could happen? They might learn to love writing.
Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog sarahswritingcafe.blogspot.com and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.