How to motivate kids to write when they’re unmotivated, apathetic, or bored

by | Sep 13, 2021 | Reluctant or Struggling Writers, Teaching Homeschool Writing

Problem: “Writing is boring,” they say. But you don’t know how to motivate your apathetic kids to pick up a pencil and write.

Solution: Give them a wide variety of writing experiences and let them choose their own topics.


Face it. Many students are unmotivated because their writing assignments ARE boring. But honestly, other times it’s because they simply don’t care. This lack of motivation is another stumbling block that keeps children from becoming successful writers. 

When a child struggles with motivation, there’s no simple fix, but addressing what’s at the heart of their apathy can help. Here are four things to try with your kids when nothing else seems to light a fire under them.

RELATED: How to inspire your kids when homeschool writing feels pointless or lacks purpose

1. Offer a Varied Writing Diet

Do you have one child who loves creative writing and another who prefers to write nonfiction?

Unfortunately, too many homeschool writing programs limit students’ options. Restricting them to a steady diet of book reports or essays snuffs out creativity and stifles initiative. But letting them only write stories isn’t the answer, either.

Instead, give them a chance to dabble in different genres by varying their writing assignments. They won’t always like every type of writing you assign, but it’s good to mix things up. Not only will it expose your kids to a wide range of writing genres, but this small change could be the very catalyst that will motivate them to write!

Here are just a few ideas (along with links to instructions). Give them a try!

2. Give Kids Freedom to Choose Topics

Not only is it good for unmotivated kids to write in different genres, it’s also important to give them flexibility of topic choices within those genres. Nothing squelches creativity like saying, “You MUST write about THIS.” When their assigned topics feel irrelevant, boring, or uninteresting, students can feel less than enthusiastic about writing.

I’m not saying your kids should run the show. After all, you’re still their teacher! But if you’re teaching a particular kind of writing—describing a place, for instance—give them some choice. Let them describe a baseball stadium or a coffee shop, a mountain cabin or a busy street corner, your garden or their bedroom—all while remaining within the lesson’s framework.

It’s the best of both worlds when you establish some parameters but offer freedom too. When children have some “ownership” of the subject matter, they’re more likely to invest themselves in the writing.

Does your homeschool writing program limit your child’s or teen’s writing experiences or restrict their topic choices? WriteShop can help!

Each lesson in WriteShop Primary, WriteShop Junior, and WriteShop I & II provides the framework for a wide range of engaging writing assignments. At the same time, the curriculum gives kids freedom to pick their own topic.

3. Tie Writing to Other Subjects

When other approaches fail to motivate kids to write, incorporate writing across the curriculum whenever possible. Instead of teaching writing as a separate subject, “writing across the curriculum” lets you mesh writing instruction with your study of history, literature, art, music . . . the opportunities are endless.

Your kids might love exploring art-based writing or trying their hand at nature-inspired writing projects. And if they’d rather create than write, special projects let them demonstrate knowledge of a subject without having to do a lot of writing.

RELATED: Tips for writing across the curriculum in your homeschool

4. Write with Delight

Finally, consider delight-directed learning, which allows children to explore a favorite topic—hobby, sport, historical period, whatever their passion—and write about it in many ways. The beauty of delight-directed learning? Your child can explore one broad topic of interest while using many different writing genres or styles, including:

  • Using vivid description
  • Explaining a process (“how-to” composition)
  • Writing fictional stories and nonfiction narratives
  • Writing essays and reports
  • Developing news articles

Meanwhile, each individual writing project focuses on a different aspect of your child’s topic, whether it’s 4-H, horses, LEGO, dance, or antique guns. You may grow tired of reading essays, stories, and reports about the history of football, Patrick Mahomes, how to throw a football, and “My First Touchdown,” but if it means your student is writing . . . well, rejoice!

How to Motivate Kids to Write When Unmotivated, Apathetic, or Bored

7 Comments

  1. Amy

    This is SO good, give direction, but not too narrow of a focus… Give an idea, yet allow freedom for creativity within the given boundary… yup, I like it.

    Amy in Peru

    http://fisheracademy.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. Kim

    That makes so much sense, Diane. Make sure to check back when we get to Stumbling Block #9: Inability to see a purpose for the writing assignment!

    Reply
  3. Diane

    My children seem to lack motivation because they lack purpose.

    Reply
  4. Kimberly

    Absolutely! Why not let the child write about something he’s interested in? 🙂 And across the curriculum…only our creative writing is a topic in and of itself, the rest of our writing is for History, Science, etc.

    Reply
  5. Isabelle Lussier

    Yes indeed we are…. Thisis my third year of homeschool… Year one – 1 child. Year two – two children. Year three – 3 kids…

    Sometimes I wonder how come I still have my head… LOL

    Seriously though I also have a toddler who wants to sit with us. Not always convenient. Good thing my JK can go play with her sometimes…

    The one that needs more attention is my 3rd grader since I am trying to do grammar in both languages. Yikes. What was I thinking. But we persevere and continue to advance. *grin*

    The SK and JK is mostly basic learning. My SK want to learn to read so we work on that one too… slowly. Not fast enough for him I think. He wants to go shopping with his dad for his own bible. *grin* too cute

    Reply
  6. Kim

    You’re doing a great job of being a sponge and absorbing all sorts of new info. We’re all still learning, Isabelle, don’t you think? 🙂

    Reply
  7. Isabelle Lussier

    Flexibility…. such a small word but it tells a lot.

    And it is necessary when you are homeschooling – being flexible so that even if we don’t meet our plans we don’t stress.

    Same goes for writing obviously. Sometimes I can be stuck up in my guidelines… why not being flexible? This year I am trying to be more flexible with my 3rd grader… I’m still learning…

    Reply

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