Reluctant writers tip #1: Using a tape recorder

My son was writing-phobic. Hard as I tried, he hated everything about writing, from holding the pencil to putting words on paper.

Me:  What are some good words to describe the dog’s fur?

Ben:  Soft? Fuzzy? Brown?

Me:  Those are all great choices. Which one would you like to use in this sentence?

Ben:  Um…which one is the shortest to spell?

OK, so that was my life.

Fortunately, Ben did learn to write…eventually. Now he’s a grad student who writes words I can’t even pronounce, yet alone define. So there’s hope for any kid. But meanwhile, what can you do with your own child? Perhaps he has ideas, even if you have to coax them out of him. But that blasted pencil and paper keep getting in the way of his creativity!

One idea that works with reluctant writers, especially verbal ones: Have the child narrate his account into a tape recorder. You can then transcribe his words onto paper to help him see the relationship between the spoken and written word.

By third or fourth grade, when his writing skills have developed sufficiently, you may want to have him write his story from dictation as he listens to the tape. He can stop and start the tape as he writes his own words on paper.

Go back with him to catch and fix capitalization and punctuation errors. His spelling errors can become part of his list for the week. Depending on the child, you may want to focus on one or two areas that need attention. You might also note his errors so that you can bring them to his attention before the next dictation assignment. “Bobby, let’s review. What begins every sentence?” 

Writing activities don’t have to be formal! Keep trying new ideas till you find a handful of tools that work for you. And keep checking back for more suggestions to help your reluctant writer.

Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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