10 ways to reduce writing stress
Teaching writing can seem complicated and stressful. For for many homeschoolers, writing is the most challenging, stress-inducing subject you teach. Whether you’re teaching a 4th grader or a 14-year-old, you can lighten the load with a few small, simple adjustments to your normal teaching attempts. Try these ten tips on for size!
1. Don’t let your child go it alone.
At every age, your child needs your involvement in the writing process, not just to give editing feedback, but to instruct and model. Like teaching your child to wash the car, crochet a hat, or clean the hamster cage, you’ll need to remain involved until she is confidently and successfully progressing.
2. Give guidelines for the assignment.
What’s one of the most frustrating assignments you can give a reluctant child? Believe it or not, just ask her to “write about whatever she wants.” While it seems that this should inspire her, it can actually shut down her creativity altogether. Why? Because without guidelines, she feels like she’s been tossed into a vast ocean and told to swim for shore!
Instead, provide clear instructions and lesson boundaries, which make her feel more secure.
3. Offer choices.
An unmotivated student may benefit from having choices, such as deciding between several writing topics or choosing whether to do his writing assignment at his desk or the kitchen table.
4. Plan before writing.
When a student goes off on rabbit trails, he loses his focus and ends up with writing that’s awkward or hard to follow. Help him create an outline or use a graphic organizer before he begins so he’s less likely to wander off the path. Work together, modeling the brainstorming process for your child.
5. Just write!
Though it’s tempting for your student to try to correct everything as he goes, have him finish his rough draft without wrestling with every word, phase, and sentence. That’s what revising is for!
6. Kick perfectionism to the curb.
Perfectionism—personal pressure to “get it right the first time”—is the mother of all stumbling blocks and the key contributor to writer’s block. Don’t get hung up on perfection. Your child can always improve the rough draft. Remember: the creative process isn’t always neat, tidy, and measured, and it’s certainly not perfect!
7. Give your teen frequent essay practice.
Regularly assign essays related to other subjects of study such as literature and history. Practicing often with essay writing of all types—including timed essays—will make college writing that much less stressful.
8. Give deadlines.
Establish a due date for each writing assignment. When you don’t give a deadline, you imply that your child can put the task off indefinitely. Set a cut-off date and stick to it.
9. Use writing checklists.
Children should begin using a checklist as a guide to help them identify errors in content, style, and mechanics. A checklist makes self-editing more objective by offering specific expectations to meet.
10. Bless your student’s writing efforts.
Before you make a single correction on a paper, affirm your student by helping them discover what’s right about the story or report, not just what needs fixing.
Be brave! Which of these 10 tips will you try this week?
Photos: Patrick Lim, Caleb Roenigk, and Alena Navarro-Whyte courtesy of Creative Commons.
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